We all have our ups and downs, but some people seem always to be happier and more optimistic. They always see the glass as half full and quickly recover from setbacks. Optimists seem happier, healthier, and more productive. It’s inspiring and sounds like an ideal way to live life. But how do you become an optimist? However, there is not necessarily one specific way to start being more optimistic. You can look at a list of optimistic quotes, read self-help books or try to look on the sunny side of life.

Things An Optimist Does Differently

To help you out, here is a list of fifteen things that an optimist does differently that may inspire you to make different decisions in your life.


1. They See Failure as a Learning Experience

Every experience in life has its positives and negatives. When a situation turns more negative, it can significantly impact our lives. Maybe you presented a proposal at work, and it was rejected, or you are trying to lose weight and have gained a few pounds instead. These situations can seem like huge setbacks, and you may even feel like giving up completely.

Optimists choose to look at these scenarios as learning experiences. Ask your boss for constructive criticism on your proposal, analyze where you went wrong with your diet and exercise, and get back to the gym.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.” – Helen Keller

2. They Express Gratitude

Optimists focus on gratitude daily, which can help keep things in perspective. It may seem like a simple concept but inviting more gratitude into your life can be a little complicated. When everything feels like it’s going wrong, it’s hard to concentrate on the positive. But searching for the things you are grateful for can improve your mood. There are several scientific benefits to increasing gratitude in your life.

3. They Focus on the Bright Side

Every cloud has a silver lining and optimists are good at focusing in on that lining. Looking on the bright side is often one of the hardest personality traits to adapt. Perhaps you got a speeding ticket, a flat tire and were late to work in one day. How can you possibly have a good day after such a stressful situation? Mental Health America suggests phrasing questions like, “How have I grown from this situation?” and “Are my relationships stronger now?” If you see no silver lining in the situation, try to think about things going well for you or people you care about. Optimism takes practice!

“The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity.” – Winston Churchill

4. They Surround Themselves with Positive and Upbeat People

Optimists attract optimistic people. If you are new in your journey towards optimism, a great start would be to surround yourself with happy, optimistic people. Whether or not you realize it, the people you surround yourself with impact your mood. If you are friends with someone who complains regularly, you are more likely to think about the bad side of life. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up all your cranky friends, but if you notice someone complaining, try to contradict their complaint by pointing out the positive side of their conversation.

5. They Let Things Go

Optimists are good at letting go of negative emotions. It may seem easy to them, but it can also be learned through practice. Stress and anger are difficult emotions to let go of. Most of us find ourselves clinging to negative feelings after a bad interaction. The stress and anger we hold onto will only magnify over time, leading to health problems, including headaches, weight gain, blood pressure problems, and more. Learn to recognize when you are having negative thoughts and work on letting them go. It will change your stress levels and make you feel happier in general.

6. They Respect Themselves

Assertive and confident people tend to have high respect for themselves. They are good at setting boundaries with others, leading to an easier and more convenient life. Respecting yourself and knowledge sets you up for healthier relationships and friendships. You will learn to handle criticisms better, lose any envy, and feel more complete. Studies show that living an optimistic lifestyle and respecting yourself will lead to better mental health and well-being.

7. They Live in the Moment

When you stop ruminating over the past or worrying about the future, your life will become less stressful. Why worry about a break-up that happened five years ago or whether you will develop health issues in the future when there is nothing you can do to change those worries in the present moment? Unnecessary worry leads to stress and anger. When you learn to live in the moment and work on problems you can solve now instead of later, big projects stop being scary, and you can tackle tasks more mindfully.

8. They Embrace Life’s Ups and Downs

Life is never going to be great 100% of the time. Conversely, life will never be terrible 100% of the time. Embracing that life comes with its ups and downs helps us ride through the low times more easily. When you stop and realize that your low points aren’t going to last forever, you are more likely to focus on the good times to come, which will make you more productive in the present moment.

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” – Lucille Ball

9. They Are Open Minded

When you have a closed mind, it is easy to jump to conclusions. You may assume the worst in people based on little you know about them. An optimist practices focusing on the big picture with an open mind. When you free your mind from limiting thoughts is when the change truly happens. You have a greater ability to love and be loved and your relationships with friends, coworkers and loved ones will greatly improve.

10. They Make the Most Out of All Opportunities

Not every opportunity in your life will seem enticing. Perhaps your boss assigns you a long, boring project, or a friend asks to borrow your car. Optimists will take these opportunities to make the best out of a seemingly unpleasant situation. Performing your best on a big project can further your career, and lending your friend your car is a step toward a closer friendship. There are good opportunities too, of course. Making the most of these situations will lead to a happier life.

11. An Optimist Will Always Appreciate the Things They Have

Today it is easy to focus on the things we don’t have. We see a coworker with a new car or a friend with the latest cell phone and we tend to feel a sense of envy. We are bombarded with advertising that reminds us of things we want and can’t afford. But if we only take a minute to stop and think about the things we do have, we learn to appreciate life a little bit more. The next time you feel jealousy about something you want, stop and make a list–on paper or in your head–about the things that you have and are grateful for.

12. They Empower Others

Optimism is infectious. When you adopt a positive outlook on life you are more likely to try to bring others with you. An optimist will regularly empower others at work, school, or even their personal life. Whether helping a coworker learn a new skill for their job or giving a friend or child a pep-talk, you will feel better about yourself knowing that you are helping others.

“I don’t think you lead by pessimism and cynicism. I think you lead by optimism and enthusiasm and energy.” – Patricia Ireland

13. They Practice Self-Care

Self-care can be as simple as getting plenty of sleep or something deeper like intuitive eating or meditation. Optimists understand that to maintain a positive lifestyle, self-care is key. It is nearly impossible to stay positive so regularly when you are not taking care of yourself first. Take time to write in a journal or a hot bath. You will be surprised how uplifted you will feel, and you will have more of yourself to give to others.


14. They Take Action

When you have a difficult task ahead of you it is easy to make excuses as to why you should not start. Optimists are ready to take action and begin a task right away. They don’t complain about how complicated a task is if they know it’s something they have to get done. Optimists are also proactive about completing tasks ahead of time, which provides far less stress down the road. Having a system to get things done gives you the freedom to choose what to do and when, and taking immediate action helps you make future commitments.

15. They Practice Their Interests and Passions

Setting aside time to practice your personal interests and hobbies helps your mental health, improves your creativity, reduces stress, and helps to strengthen your relationships. Having a gratifying hobby improves personal happiness and happiness leads to optimism. When you are happier, your mood will improve, and you will be more motivated to tackle other tasks that may seem less appealing. The productivity will snowball, and you will feel accomplished.

Final Thoughts

Adopting an optimist lifestyle takes practice. You must focus on the present, take the highs and lows in stride and practice self-care. Practicing these tips will help you develop a happy and healthy lifestyle.