Professional Development

5 steps to becoming more optimistic

Written by Kate Lopaze

Unless you naturally always see the glass as half-full, focusing on the sunny side of things may not seem like the easiest task in the world. (And even those natural optimists have their moments of frustration and doubt.) Positivity is a trait you have to work on, but it’s one worth cultivating—being optimistic is an asset in all aspects of your life, especially in your career. If you’re not confident and open, opportunities may pass you by.

Here are some tricks to use when you need to boost your optimism and confidence.

1. Note any negativity.

When you first respond to something, is your instinct to see what’s wrong? Take a mindful approach to your thoughts and statements throughout the day. You don’t need to feel ashamed of the negativity you feel, just make a note of it and think about why that might be your default response. Think about the assumptions you make. What’s behind them? Is it fear? Anxiety? It’s going to be very difficult to change your thinking if you aren’t putting much introspection into why you’re thinking negatively in the first place.

2. Fake it ‘til you make it.

When you have a negative thought, consciously add a positive one. Even if you don’t really mean it, or you don’t think it’s totally true, that’s okay. It might feel like you’re forcing it at first, but after a while you’ll find yourself automatically adding the positive to the negative—or even seeing the positive part first.

3. Pick a positivity mentor.

You probably know someone who’s routinely positive, or able to take a lesson from the bad things that happen. Make that person the little voice in your head (and they never have to know). How would she approach this situation? What perspective would he take? This is part of the mindfulness that can help you change your thinking and your behavior.

4. Be kind to yourself.

We’re usually our own worst critics—especially when things aren’t going very well. Changing your outlook starts with cutting yourself some slack. It might feel cheesy to (mentally) pat yourself on the back or cheer on your own decisions, but who’s going to know you’re doing it? Start by giving yourself positive feedback in everyday life like, “I did this poorly, but I did this other thing right,” or “I got lost, but I stayed calm and eventually found my way back to the road.”

5. Be ready to commit.

Changing how you see things (and how you react to things) is not going to be an instant process. And it’s not something you can set aside, say, an hour to practice on a Saturday afternoon. If you try to add kind of an internal review to your thoughts as often as you can, you’ll find that you’re tweaking your levels of positivity over time. You will also likely find that you’re feeling less anxious and stressed and more open to opportunities and possibilities if you’re not dwelling on all the reasons it just won’t work, or why you don’t deserve it. You deserve happiness, so go find it!

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.