Is Optimism A Choice?

Optimism is essentially a mindset. It is all about how we perceive things. In order to develop this personality trait we need to learn how to reflect on the positive aspects of life by challenging negative self-talk. Anyone can learn this skill you just have to want to. You may have been a pessimist in the past but that doesn't mean that you are always destined to be one.

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.
Is Optimism A Choice?

It is believed that hope together with a positive mental attitude can help us get on top of almost everything. There is good evidence to suggest that being optimistic can improve our physical and mental health, even having an impact on our life expectancy.

This is possibly because optimistic people are more resilient and better able to bounce back from unfortunate events. They are believed to be less susceptible to the negative effects of illness and depression, their immune systems tend to be healthier and they are often more motivated and energetic. Or perhaps it is just by their very nature they fully expect to live a long and healthy life.

The more positive our thought processes, the more the brain creates new links that make these thoughts more likely to become a reality. Negative thinking is unproductive and distracts us from the positives in life. So it is important to catch ourselves when our thoughts are tending towards the negative and re-focus our attention.

So can anybody learn to become more optimistic? Although it’s true that some of us are wired to be more positive than others, research shows it’s a skill that anyone can learn by training ourselves to do so.

Cultivating An Optimistic Outlook

Optimism doesn’t just make us feel happier, it also makes us more confident. It helps us to believe in ourselves and our ability to find a solution. Techniques for cultivating optimism include positive visualisation, challenging our thoughts, training our brain to look for the positive and practising mindfulness. 

It’s also important we don’t give in to catastrophic thinking. It’s hard, but when we start to have gloomy thoughts about the future, we have to remind ourselves of all the times when we thought things would go badly wrong, and they didn’t. Like looking for jobs as a college student convinced we’d never make the grade, or expecting the worst from our medical tests. Once we start to reduce our fear we can begin feeling more optimistic.

Getting into the habit of taking a few moments every day to ask ourselves what we have done well can be the simplest gesture to reinforce optimism and help us to build our self confidence. Appreciating even the smallest of things can work wonders for our mindset.

Recognizing Our Thinking Patterns.

When something happens that makes us feel pessimistic or negative, knowing that we can look at the situation differently can completely change our perspective. We are not our thoughts, so we don’t have to believe everything we think. The fastest way to change our lives is to change our narrative. We are empowered from the inside out and we need to feed a positive mind. Anyone and everyone can begin using positive statements to create change and improvements in their life. They are our thoughts, so we get to pick them.

How we respond to adversity will ultimately determine our success in life. Our mindset is everything. We can’t always control our outer circumstances in life but how we react is up to us. 

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...


    3 Myths About Optimism You Should Drop

    by John Turner
    Zigres / Shutterstock

    Do Optimists or Pessimists Fare Better During a Pandemic?

    by Nadav Druker

    The Bright and Dark Sides of Optimism and Pessimism

    by Gustavo Razzetti
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.