In The Optimism Advantage, psychology PhD Terry Paulson offers 50 tips for how to be optimistic. He developed these insights over 30 years of doing programs on optimism and change for companies like the Federal Reserve, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart. Here are 17 habits of optimists gleaned from the book:
1. Optimists are realists who have overcome challenges in the past, and believe they’ll overcome them again.
“If you think optimism means adopting a Pollyanna mind-set where everything turns out right, then you’ve got the wrong idea . . . True optimists have earned their positive attitude from a proven track record of overcoming real obstacles. They did it the old-fashioned way; they earned confidence one obstacle, one challenge, and one victory at a time!” – Paulson
2. Optimists adopt a survivor mentality and believe they’re in control of their lives. They don’t think like victims or look for others to blame.
3. Optimists don’t ask “why me?” They understand that life isn’t fair or unfair; it just is.
4. Optimists are grateful.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” – Albert Einstein
5. Optimists put the bad in perspective and even see the good in it.
6. Optimists consume heroic, inspiring stories (like biographies) rather than negative news on TV.
7. Optimists have a purpose that helps them overcome obstacles and stress with a positive attitude.
“Be a humble explorer, repeatedly becoming a beginner in new arenas as you keep shaping your life one day at a time. Finding your purpose is too important a goal to come easily, and it’s worth every second of the struggle!” – Paulson
8. Optimists keep learning new knowledge and skills so they can be confident they’ll be prepared for the future.
9. Optimists take care of their bodies by eating and exercising well.
10. Optimists embrace action and are constantly adapting their strategies and goals (like entrepreneurs).
“The tragedy of life is not how soon it ends, but how long you wait to begin it.” – Paulson
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
11. Optimists aren’t afraid to fail, because they know failure is part of the journey to success.
“To have a great idea, have a lot of them.” – Thomas Edison
12. Optimists dispute the negative thoughts in their head by looking for conflicting evidence, entertaining alternatives, focusing on the most likely rather than the worst consequences, and recognizing that worry is useless.
13. Instead of calling themselves names, optimists focus on constructive criticism of their own actions. They ask: what did I do wrong? How can I fix it? How will I act differently next time?
14. Optimists focus on what they’re doing right and recognize their accomplishments.
15. Optimists take advantage of simple pleasures and humor.
16. Optimists surround themselves with optimistic people and make time for them.
17. Optimists understand that it takes hard work to stay optimistic.
Want more? Check out Terry L. Paulson’s “The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results.”