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How to be More Optimistic: 10 Surefire Strategies

Hello and welcome. Our staff spent significant time putting together the best time-tested strategies to help you be more optimistic. I hope they help you.

You don’t have to use all of these strategies to benefit. Just choose the one or two things that you connect with and that you feel good about and then use those to create a better outlook.

The most important thing is to make a commitment to practice your preferred strategies everyday for the next 30 days. You can make it a 30-day challenge for yourself. If you’re struggling to get started, then begin with something that is simple, fast, and easy to do.

1. Start Your Day Smiling and Feeling Grateful.

How you begin the morning shapes your entire day. If you start with a smile and cheerful outlook, everything will go way better. You can make it easy for yourself by developing a simple and easy, yet powerful habit. 

There is solid research 1 showing that you can be more optimistic and happy by keeping a simple journal. The secret is to regularly write down and think about things that make you smile or feel grateful.


Instant Journal Strategy

  • Keep a simple journal and begin your day by remembering and writing down at least one thing that makes you smile or feel grateful.
  • Make it a habit to do this first thing every day. It only takes a few minutes and the benefit is amazing.

2. Reduce Negative Thinking by Planning Your Day.

Stress and mistakes can foster negative thinking and make it difficult to stay positive. You can reduce mistakes and stress by planning your day and then following your plan. 

Ruthlessly prioritize your tasks and work on the top one first. 

  • Choose the most important one and either work on it all day or set a minimum time period to focus on it. Then move to the next task only after finishing the first task or time period. 
  • Delegate less important tasks or tasks you aren’t good at when possible.

Some people like to plan for their day the night before just before they go to bed. That gives you a chance for your mind and your dreams to maybe be focused on some things that you’ll be doing the next day. It’s best to decide on a way that you’re comfortable with and you’re most likely to follow through with.


Free Planning Tool and Strategy

  • Use the FREE Microsoft “To Do” app or something similar to plan your day and setup reminders. It’s available on Windows, IOS, or Android and it synchronizes across all devices.
  • It makes organizing and managing your tasks simple and easy. It’s also very good for setting one-time and repeat reminders.

3. Use the Pomodoro Method to Stay Focused and Get Things Done.

We can all get distracted at times and lose track of what’s important now. You can keep yourself on track by setting goals and priorities for what you think and do. Then be sure to concentrate on things that need to be taken seriously.

At the same time, you should also take short breaks to relax and enjoy. This way, you can achieve good results. Here is a good strategy and tool to help you stay focused and take breaks at regular intervals.


Strategy and Tool to Stay Focused

Use the Pomodoro method to focus intensely for 25 minutes, take a short break of 5 minutes and repeat. After 2 hours take a 15 or 20 minute break.

Plan time periods for your top priorities and stick with it. You don’t need a special timer. I just use this one from google search and set it for 25 minutes.


4. Stop Wasting Energy Worrying. 

If you’re like most people you’ve wasted energy worrying about something that you either couldn’t control or didn’t happen anyway. Worrying can ruin a good mood as quickly as anything. Stop worrying and you will automatically have a more positive mindset.


Worry Solving Method  

Banish most worries by taking these steps: 

  1. Write down precisely what you’re worried about. 
  2. If it’s something out of your control, then plan how you will respond.
  3. Write down what you can do about it. 
  4. Decide what to do. 
  5. Start immediately to carry out that decision.

Worried Girl


5. Plan and Practice How You Will Respond to Negativity

Yes, we all want to control our own mind and the big question is “How in the world do I take control of my mind?”  You do it by deciding you must change something and then following these steps:

  1. Make a list of things that trigger you to be negative, angry or upset.
  2. Then, consciously decide that, from now on, when a trigger comes up, you will instead respond calmly and optimistically in a specific predetermined fashion, and you won’t allow yourself to be negative, upset or angry. 

To control your mind, you need to condition yourself with repitition following a specific pattern. You can use the negative trigger to prompt you. Here is a conditioning method that works.

If you need more help with negativity, here are 7 powerful exercises.


Mind Control Method

  • Use this formula to take control of your mind: IF {TRIGGER} THEN {I SAY} AND {I DO}. An example would be:
  • IF { I make a mistake and begin to feel upset}.
  • THEN { I SMILE and say “I don’t get upset over mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. I learn from my mistakes}.
  • AND {I focus on what I want to accomplish}.
  • Making habits your identity is the most powerful way to take charge and change. Saying things to yourself like “I’m not the kind of person who…” or “I don’t…” and “I’m the type of person who…” conditions you to identify with these statements as who you are.

6. Master Control of Your Focus

Avoid dwelling on the past and be sure to focus on solutions not problems. 

Pessimists think about  problems more while optimists spend more time thinking about solutions. While it’s natural to worry about problems, it won’t change your situation. The problems may not feel good or not seem fair, but what has happened is done.

So, let go of negative thoughts and regrets. Get aggressive and start preparing to move forward in a positive way.

You can use the same mind control trick here as responding to negativity to change your focus towards the solutions..


Focus Conditioning Strategy

IF {TRIGGER} THEN { I SAY } AND { I DO }

IF {I’m focusing on the problem}

THEN {I SAY “I focus on solutions”}

AND {I follow the simple worry solving technique}

  1. Write down precisely what you’re worried about.
  2. If it’s something you don’t control, then plan how you will respond.
  3. Write down what you can do about it. 
  4. Decide what to do. 
  5. Start immediately to carry out that decision.

FREE WORKSHEET

Focus on the Positive

Click Below to open this worksheet in another window and you can download FREE!

7. Leverage Positive Mantras to Condition Your Optimism

While many of us think our happiness is controlled by external events, we’re more likely to be holding ourselves back by our own negative, conditioned self-talk or mantras. 

We constantly feed ourselves negative messages without even noticing. We persuade ourselves that we’re “not good enough”, “not smart enough” or “not attractive enough”. 

You need to identify these negative thinking patterns and take control to replace them with positive thoughts. Look out for negative thoughts that pop into your head and replace them right away with positive messages. Here is a good article about making and using your own mantra. 

You can use this formula to replace negative thoughts with a positive mantra or affirmation:

IF {I have a negative thought} THEN {I repeat my positive mantra 5 times}

It’s best to craft your own mantras or affirmations to address your unique negative habits.

You also may want to use subliminal technology to help condition positive thinking.

8. Fake It and Feel More Confident and Optimistic

Optimism doesn’t come naturally to any of us, and you may see that it takes time to transform your attitude. Meanwhile, try acting before you feel like it and fake a more enthusiastic outlook. Research has shown that you can trick yourself into feeling happier by physically going through the motions.

So, go against your natural instinct, and instead try smiling and laughing more and consciously speaking more positively. Acting how you want to feel will propel you to be an optimistic person.


Fake It Technique

Every time you go to a room with a mirror, like the bathroom, grin a big wide grin at yourself in the mirror. Then, assume a positive, confident, upright posture before you leave. Your body will respond and you’ll feel more positive, optimistic and confident.

You can choose other triggers if you like. For example, you might choose every time you get up from being seated to always smile, and assume a positive and confident posture.


9. Celebrate any Small Improvements

Even one step in the right direction is a small  improvement. You can be more optimistic, think more positively, and orient yourself toward success by looking for any small improvement in the current situation as a success and celebrating it.

For example, writing one paragraph may not seem like much when you’re writing a book, but it is the first step in the right direction. 

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a single step.

10. Start The Day By Focusing On Goals And Expectations

Thinking about what you want to accomplish and imagining achieving your goals is a very powerful way to start the day. It will put you in the right mindset to focus on the things that are important to you. You’ll be less likely to let distractions sidetrack you.


What to do.

As soon as you wake up, think about what you want to get done and expect it to happen.

Imagine as vividly as you can and visualize yourself at the end of the day having done everything on your list. Don’t be concerned if it seems too ambitious to finish.

Spend a few minutes repeating your long-term goals to yourself, too, including whatever you consider to be your current mission or larger purpose in your life right now. Visualize yourself having already reached these goals.


Conclusion to How to be More Optimistic

Practice, practice, practice. It has taken me years of work on this and I still sometimes dip into pessimism. It took you a long time to learn negativity and will take you a long time to learn optimism.

Action Plan to be More Optimistic

1. Choose 1 or 2 strategies

2. Choose a starting day and commit to 30 days.

3. Set a daily reminder [Reminder Services Search].

4. After 30 days choose 1 or 2 more strategies.

5. If you miss a day, pick up the next day and keep going until you finish.

Best wishes in your efforts to embrace optimism!


Authoritative Reference Links

1. The benefits of using a journal.

Lyubomirsky, S., & Tkach, C. (2003). The consequences of dysphoric rumination. In Papageorgiou, C. & Wells, A. (Eds.). Rumination: Nature, theory, and treatment of negative thinking in depression (pp. 21–41). Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons. 

For a review of this work, see Lepore, S. J., & Smyth, J. M. (Eds.) (2002). The writing cure: How expressive writing promotes health and emotional well-being. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 

Spera, S., Buhrfeind, E., & Pennebaker, J. W. (1994). Expressive writing and coping with job loss. Academy of Management Journal, 3, 722–733. 

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.

King, L. A. (2001). The health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 798–807. 17. Burton, C. M., & King, L. A. (2004). 

The health benefits of writing about intensely positive experiences. Journal of Research in Personality, 38, 150–163. 18. Floyd, K., Mikkelson, A. C., Hesse, C., & Pauley, P. M. (2007). 

Affectionate writing reduces total cholesterol: Two randomized, controlled trials. Human Communication Research, 33, 119–142.

2. Listing things you’re grateful for before going to bed. 

RA, E., & ME, M. (2003). Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 84(2). Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12585811/

Wood, A., Joseph, S., Lloyd, J., & Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal Of Psychosomatic Research, 66(1), 43-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores. 2008.09.002

References for the Benefits of Being Optimistic

On the Power of Positive Thinking: The Benefits of Being Optimistic

Affective and Social Self- Regulatory Efficacy Beliefs as Determinants of Positive Thinking and Happiness

Looking for adolescents’ well-being: self-efficacy beliefs as determinants of positive thinking and happiness | Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences

Optimism, pessimism and mental health

More Resources