Examples Of Optimism And Why It's Important
Updated 14 August 2019
by Hugo: Founder of Tracking Happiness, marathon runner, data junkie and happiness tracker for almost 6 years.
In a world that is cluttered with a lot of negative noise, it’s extremely important for an individual to be optimistic. Why? Because it is only when we have belief in the positivity of future events that we actually start “trying” and eventually make it work.
This is why I decided to write about optimism and the many examples of optimism. It might not surprise you, but I really believe the world would be a better place if more people were more optimistic, rather than living a life filled with pessimism. In fact, optimism and having a bit of positivity is a crucial factor of happiness.
So that's what this article is about. By the time you finish reading this, you'll know what optimism is, and some examples of how optimism can help you improve your life!
Table of contents
- What is optimism exactly?
- What are some examples of optimism?
- What are the benefits of being an optimistic person
- Actionable methods to become an optimist
- How can optimism improve your happiness?
What is optimism exactly?
Without diving into the nitty-gritty, optimism can be simply defined as being positively hopeful and having confidence in the future success of events. Optimism and positivity are both fundamental factors of happiness, as I've discussed with a lot of detail in my article about the 5 pillars of happiness.
This may sound simple in theory, but in reality, it’s actually a rare trait to have. The few people that do have the trait of optimism are able to achieve things against odds, things that could easily be considered impossible in the eyes of others.
This is because whilst most people see the negatives and think about why something will not work, optimistic people focus on the positives or the “what if’s” of how something could work.
Optimism is being hopeful and having faith in the success which you have no evidence of and simply having the will to keep going without succeeding right away.
What if I'm not an optimist?
Do not fret if you aren’t an optimist! The fact that you’re reading this right now is a sign that you want to improve. And you can!
Because I believe optimism is a skill that can be developed!
And that’s what this article is about: real-life and actionable examples of optimism, that you can put to use right away!
What are some examples of optimism?
Like I’ve mentioned before, optimism is looking at the positives of probable events. It basically means seeing the positives and the opportunities of certain scenarios, no matter what the odds might say.
Here are examples (some personal) that will show you how optimism could help you steer your life in a better, happier direction.
Example 1: Getting your only debit card blocked in a foreign country
This example actually happened to a close friend of mine. Two weeks back, he embarked on his first-ever solo backpacker journey. Being a beginner, he made a bunch of amateur mistakes, like not preparing backup methods for transferring or paying money.
So when he used a shady ATM, it got stuck inside the machine. Yikes. What made it worse is that it was a Sunday so the bank wasn't operational and unable to help.
So what did he do?
He freaked out for a moment, as he was in a foreign country without any money. He even thought of going back home but then wisely decided to tackle his problem as an optimist would.
He thought of solutions instead of problems.
He soon found that cryptocurrency (He’s a crypto fan) could be easily exchanged for the local currency, so looked for people online and within a few hours exchanged some of his crypto for the local currency.
While his pessimistic self would've given up and blamed the world (anybody but himself) for not having enough redundancies, the optimistic version of him focused on alternatives and eventually found one.
Example 2: Stuck in traffic
In today’s world, it almost seems like everyone and their mom is getting a new car. As a result, traffic is a problem that is becoming a common part of our lives. And while many people dread being stuck in traffic, optimistic people will find a way to still look on the bright side of life.
For instance, I always keep a book in the car just in case I'm stuck in traffic. In addition, if I’m only going to be stuck for 5 or 10 minutes, I’ll usually give my girlfriend a call, or crank up the volume on one of my favorite music albums.
You see, this way you’ll be able to shift your focus from something negative to something that’s positive. And that’s exactly what an optimist would do.
What if you’re late for work due to traffic, and your boss will flip?
Send a picture of the traffic and he can't be mad at you. Busy traffic and accidents are such a regular event nowadays, that your boss will likely understand.
If not, then you’d best suggest him to practice more emotional self-awareness! 😉
In short, while most people would fear getting stuck in traffic, an optimistic person would look at it as an opportunity to learn something new, talk to his/her partner and focus on something positive instead!
It’s probably not hard to see how this can have a great effect on your happiness, right?
Example 3: Losing your job
A lot of us have experienced this: losing your job and being laid off.
For some people, this leads to a major depression and sometimes initiates a mid-life crisis. Now, while losing your job undeniably sucks, an optimistic person would look at this as an opportunity for a much more fitting job rather than a complete setback.
I think by now you should be able to recognize how much better the approach of an optimistic person is compared to that of a pessimist.
In a similar situation, an optimist will always have a better experience in dealing with the issues at hand. Sure, the challenges and amount of stress might be theoretically the same, but it’s easier to work on a solution when you actually have a positive mindset.
And that is the biggest advantage of being an optimist. An optimist has the ability to to remain calm, no matter what the circumstances.
What are the benefits of being an optimistic person
Every day, we are faced with challenges and uncertainties, and while these are things that are out of our control we can most definitely control how we react and feel in such scenarios.
It is very beneficial to practice optimism. And while it may be hard to see the silver lining here, I’ll share some benefits of how a bit of optimism and positivity can change the way you react in the face of adversity:
Benefit 1: You will be more committed towards your goals
When most people set a goal they don't account for the problems that most definitely come on the way. This is why the minute something doesn't go as planned they start to procrastinate and end up giving up.
They view these problems as hurdles that can’t be overcome.
On the other hand, an optimistic person is more committed towards his goals as they are more open to problems. In fact, an optimistic person will merely look at them as obstacles. They understand that failure is just part of the process and welcome it with open arms.
Benefit 2: More likely to try something new
A pessimist sees the negatives or the difficulty in every opportunity whereas an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
— Winston Churchill
Most pessimists give up before even trying because they focus too much on the negatives and how something can go wrong.
From experience, I've learned that the hardest and most critical part of reaching just about any goal is actually starting.
Thinking about all the possible negativity will keep a pessimist from starting at all. It’s rather sad actually because most people are too busy trying to convince themselves to start.
In the meantime, an optimist has already started by now and is putting in the work it takes.
Sure, he’ll eventually face the same challenges a pessimist would, but facing these challenges is much easier when you’re already moving forward!
Benefit 3: More likely to feel content with life
Optimistic people have a more positive outlook on life. In fact, they are more likely to be happy and content with their life.
For instance, even upon accomplishing a goal a pessimistic person would dwell on what can still go wrong rather than enjoying the moment like an optimist. A pessimist in this scenario would always focus on how it could’ve been done better and never really acknowledges the accomplishment for what it is.
While this may be in a way beneficial towards improving further, it’s important to be grateful for the current accomplishments and to simply enjoy the moment as well.
A big benefit of being an optimist is, therefore, having the ability to feel content and happy about accomplishments, even though they are not necessarily perfect.
Benefit 3: Improved health and longevity
There have been numerous health benefits linked with being an optimist. The easiest to explain comes from reduced stress.
Stress causes high levels of inflammation, higher blood pressures, a weaker immune system, and headaches. We can all agree on that, right?
While optimistic people aren't immune to stress, the way they handle stress is much more efficient than pessimistic people. In equally challenging situations, an optimist generally experiences much less stress when compared to a pessimist.
Focusing on the things that could potentially go wrong will only let your mind spiral out of control. The result? More stress!
You should know by now that you can decide what to focus on!
Focus on something positive (it can be anything!), and your mind will slowly turn brighter. This will result in:
- less stress
- a can-do attitude, instead of a "this and that could go wrong" attitude
- actually starting to work on the issues, instead of feeling crippled by what may go wrong
- a happier and longer life (being optimistic is one of the steps discussed in my complete guide about how to be happy)
Actionable methods to become an optimist
People often tell me that I'm incredibly optimistic and positive in life. What they don’t always recognize is that I haven’t been an optimist for my entire life. In all honesty, I think I am a pessimist by nature.
But that's not a dealbreaker.
What people have to understand is that you can actively work towards being an optimist. It’s really simple. We, humans, are so far advanced, we get to choose how we react to certain events.
They say happiness is a mindset, right?
Well, so is optimism.
And it just so happens that you can train your mind into that of an optimist.
I understand it can seem frustrating, as the road to becoming optimistic is tough. This is why I thought I'd share my insight and help you by sharing some actionable methods you can use right away to feel more optimistic.
Method 1: Having gratitude for what you have right now
A lot of people aren’t happy in life because they feel the constant need to change things up (or thinking about what they still lack). And while this may be true for certain things, there are many other people in the world who have it much worse than you.
It’s time to be grateful for that.
Let’s try to understand this with a simple exercise:
I want you to look at how you are feeling right now and save this feeling for future reference.
Are you happy, or just content?
Now, let’s say you hypothetically lose your wallet, your job or - God forbid - someone close to you. How would you feel in this scenario?
If you compare the former situation with the latter, obviously you would want to be in the former scenario. This infers things aren’t as bad as you think they are. You could have had it much worse.
Try to think of what good things you already have and focus on that, instead of focusing on what you don't have!
Method 2: Problems are inevitable so learn from them
When you ask someone: what is the definition of a good life?
More often than not the answer will be something along the lines of: A life without any problems or hardships. And while this may be true in theory, it’s far from realistic, impractical and just not true.
The truth is: we all have hardships in our lives and most of them cannot be prevented.
In fact, a solution to one problem is more often than not going to lead to a new problem so trying to live a life without problems is quite simply impossible.
Here’s a tip:
Instead of looking at challenges as problems, think of them as experiences that will help you grow. This is something you're probably already doing when you are completely self-aware and in control of your mind.
Now, I get that this is easier said than done.
But take it one step at the time. Once you face and overcome a challenge, you’ll be better equipped for dealing with the next one.
It’s important to not forget this true fact of life: You cannot control the negative experiences that life throws at you, but you can control how you react and deal with these challenges.
If we allow our minds to spiral down into negativity every time we have a negative situation, we are simply going to hurt ourselves by making a situation worse than it already is.
So the next time something bad happens, simply ask yourself: what can I do right away that can make things right? An optimistic person would look at it as a temporary obstacle that can be conquered, and so can you!
Method 3: Surround yourself with positive people
In a world filled with negativity, it is obviously quite common for someone to be surrounded by negativity. In fact, spending time with negative people who continually see the bad in every situation is the quickest way to become a negative pessimist too.
There’s an old saying: “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”.
I couldn’t agree more.
If you hang out with pessimists, it’s likely you’ll slowly turn into one yourself.
It luckily works the other way around too. Surround yourself with positivity, and you'll slowly embrace that mindset yourself as well!
My actionable advice to you?
Unfriend people who add nothing but negativity to your life! Pay attention to only the people who mean something to you and have a positive influence on your happiness! If you're currently not happy, you have to distance yourself from people who don't add something to your life.
You can decide who you spend time with, so choose the people who will actually add positivity to your life!
Method 4: Don’t let past experiences cloud your expectations of future events
This is a big one, as most negative people are in a way still scarred by some negative experience in the past.
What does that mean, exactly?
Well, I have a friend who flew to Indonesia once, via two flights with a transfer in between. He had planned a long holiday with his girlfriend. Upon arriving, it turned out his luggage got left at the airport. So there he was, at the start of his holiday with no luggage!
This obviously sucked and was never going to have a positive influence on his trip.
But he allowed that one negative experience to influence the rest of his entire holiday. Even though he retrieved his luggage the next day.
This one negative experience, therefore, had a big impact on the rest of his holiday. And in my opinion, that’s on him. Sure, not having your luggage is super inconvenient, and there’s nothing he could’ve done about it.
But his bad mood and pessimism affected the rest of his holiday, which wouldn’t have happened if he decided to have a positive mindset.
If you're ever in a similar situation, try not to allow your past experiences to cloud your future forecasts. One bad experience does not have to ruin potentially good experiences in the future!
Method 5: Focus on your own success and don’t compare
Let me share you something very simple, yet extremely important:
Comparison is the thief of joy.
This is such an important concept, especially now that everybody is constantly trying to impress the world of what an amazing life they have (looking at you, Facebook).
Some people compare what they have to what others have and then decide to feel down about not being able to keep up. Why can’t I be successful? Why can’t I go on that nice holiday? Why wasn’t I invited to that party?
Those are all toxic and negative mindsets, that will get you nothing but misery.
It’s simple, most of us are quick to envy somebody else’s accomplishments, but in the process neglect what we’ve already accomplished.
The grass is always greener, right?
How about you appreciate what you have going for yourself a little more? Screw the rest of the world! You should be positive about what you already have, instead of what others have that you don’t.
If you find this hard, then I really advice you to experiment with blocking social media. Try to remove Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat for a week, and see how that influences your state of mind.
Trust me, you’ll notice the difference.
How can optimism improve your happiness?
If you're reading this article, you are probably looking to feel happier, right?
While optimism may not be identical to happiness, there is definitely a connection between the two.
You now know that optimistic people have a more positive outlook on probable events as compared to pessimists. This results in them being happier because of that positive anticipation.
It’s really that simple.
In today's world with increasing complexity, it is evident that these two traits - happiness and optimism - are extremely important. In fact, the benefits can be seen in most aspects of our life.
Optimism is a simple yet powerful mindset that can make a huge impact on how we live our lives. If you learn to embrace optimism, you'll likely live a longer, healthier, and happier life.
I hope you now know a couple of relatively easy and actionable methods to reach this positive mindset. Methods that you can use right away!
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Who runs Tracking Happiness?
My name is Hugo, and I'm from the Netherlands. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering, a passion for data and statistical analysis and am an expert in happiness.
I've tracked my happiness every day for 5 years in a row. And I'm now using my knowledge to inspire you to prioritize your happiness. You see, I'm a strong believer in what gets measured gets managed. I want to show you what I - and many others - have learned while tracking your happiness.
My Happiness Essays have reached thousands of people around the world and have been shared in many places.
With my data, I have inspired hundreds of others to also track their happiness. And I'm hoping this number will only grow more!
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