Optimism, derived from the Latin term ‘optimus’ meaning “best”, is the philosophy or tendency to expect the best possible outcome (Peterson, 2010).
Rooted in positive psychology, it is a mental orientation or mindset that influences how an individual perceives and interprets situations.
Researchers assert that it’s more than just having a smile on one’s face or seeing the glass as half full; it is an outlook on life characterized by positive and hopeful attitudes (Carver, Scheier & Segerstrom, 2010).
A person embodying optimism generally anticipates good results regardless of the circumstances (for instance, an optimistic student expects the best outcome even when faced with challenging exams). They exhibit resilience in the face of adversity, manifesting as a tendency to persist and work harder with a faith in positive results (Scheier & Carver, 2018).
- Expecting good outcomes: This refers to an individual’s inclination to anticipate promising results, governed by a confident and proactive mindset. Such a mentality underscores optimism by proposing a continuous belief in positivity, despite potential obstacles.
- Trusting people’s intentions: This means exercising solid faith in the sincerity of people’s actions and objectives. It embodies optimism by presuming that people generally aim to act harmoniously and honestly, fostering a feeling of connection and mutual respect.
- Believing in oneself: This involves possessing strong confidence in one’s skills and capabilities. Rooted in optimism, it bolsters the assertion of one’s worth, driving the active pursuit to excel and revolutionize one’s life trajectory.
- Embracing change positively: This implies welcoming unfamiliar circumstances with an open heart and eagerness, expressing flexibility. Demonstrating optimism, it’s the canvas where life implements its colour, bringing along new opportunities to grow and blossom.
- Focusing on solutions: This encapsulates identifying and giving priority to answers or strategies rather than problems. An underlying pillar of optimism, it shifts the focus from passive lamenting to actionable steps towards resolution.
- Finding opportunity in adversity: This represents a virtue consistent with optimism, where disruptive situations are approached as beneficial circumstances offering valuable life lessons. It sustains a hopeful mindset, shaping arduous moments into nurseries of growth and strength.
- Visualizing success: This illustrates prediction and affirming of thriving outcomes even before they manifest, serving as a motivational tool. Such a mentality anchors one in optimism, fuelling courage to take on ambitious ventures.
- Perceiving the glass as half-full: The notion of viewing situations from a ‘glass half-full’ perspective exemplifies an optimistic worldview. This viewpoint emphasizes gratitude by appreciating available resources, thereby boosting morale and encouraging positivity outward actions.
- Encouraging others’ dreams: This comprises promoting and celebrating others’ goals, epitomizing an outward display of optimism. Such compassion and aliveness can often bolster a faith in humanity and proliferate optimism to surrounding acquaintances.
- Pursuing continual self-improvement: This encompasses a tenacious journey towards personal impartation and intellectual refinement. As an embodiment of optimism, its engenders growth and expansive experiences, leading to heightened self-awareness and satisfaction.
- Celebrating small victories: This represents valuing and commemorating even the seemingly minor accomplishments. Cultivating an optimistic outlook, it increases enthusiasm and motivation by appreciating about the process as much as the end result.
- Maintaining a cheerful disposition: This endows maintaining an ever-pleasant demeanor, expressing emotion tied to feelings of general contentment or joy. As a projection of optimism, it lightens one’s attitude and influences others positively.
- Cultivating gratitude: The act of fostering thankfulness towards life’s gifts whether big or small. Reverberating optimism, this practice reinforces positive observations of life experiences and bolsters overall wellbeing.
- Welcoming new experiences: This implies the enthusiastic acceptance of novel events or challenges, promoting flexibility and adaptability. In demonstrating optimism, it highlights the thrill in expanding horizons and the power of continual learning.
- Valuing personal growth: This exhibits a continued focus on self-evolution, embracing intellectual, emotional, and spiritual progress. A sign of optimism, it summons inner resources to better confront challenges, recognizing the inevitability and potential within progression.
- Seeing beauty in simplicity: This portrays a premise central to optimism — appreciation and zest for simple, often overlooked aspects of life. Such a perspective echoes the thought that happiness can be discovered within simplicity, spreading sparks of positivity.
- Embodying resilience in failure: This encompasses the embodiment of robust resilience in the aftermath of disappointments, using them as platforms to spring forward from. Viewing setbacks as conduits to triumph links to optimism, fostering growth and perseverance.
- Accepting uncertainty with poise: This means admitting and handling ambiguity and fluctuations gracefully. In the light of optimism, this underlines courageous acceptance of life’s unpredictability and promotes adaptability.
- Choosing happiness in hardship: This concerns electing to stay cheerful, sustaining high spirits and maintaining positivity amid trying times. It’s a shining beacon of optimism, advocating personal control over emotional states, notwithstanding external circumstances.
- Exuding confidence in abilities: This necessitates holding an unwavering faith in one’s knowledge, talents, and skills, undeterred by failures. Rooted deeply in optimism, it motivates continued commitment and releases latent potentials.
- Practicing patience and endurance: This includes providing substantial time for growth and processes without unseemly hurry, appreciating fluctuating stages of evolution. Organic to optimism, it allows for maturity and boosts reassurance in the attainment of eventual glory.
- Cherishing every moment: That requires an understanding of life’s fleeting nature, encouraging absorption in living instants with undivided attention. As a direct trait of optimism, it intensifies holistic enjoyment and harvests bouts of joy in ordinary situations.
- Upholding faith in humanity: This rests upon maintaining a positive perspective on mankind, anticipating mutual kindness, compassion, and decency. As an exceptional pillar of optimism, it steadies the belief in collective progress and morale in a supportive world.
- Being excited about the future: This is characterized by exhibiting enthusiasm and displaying vibrant anticipation about time ahead. With roots in optimism, it sparks motivation towards continually aspiring and persevering.
- Fostering a hopeful attitude: Maintaining such an attitude signifies carrying an optimistic mindset that envisages positivity throughout future occurrences. It influences personal and social realms of life, encouraging consistent anticipation of more pleasing and mirthful tomorrows.
50 Optimism Quotes (and Sayings about Optimism)
- “Every cloud has a silver lining.”
- “Tomorrow is another day.”
- “This too shall pass.”
- “When one door closes, another opens.”
- “Opportunities often come from obstacles.”
- “After a storm comes a calm.”
- “There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”
- “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”
- “Always look on the bright side.”
- “The sun will come out tomorrow.”
- “Better days are on their way.”
- “Every sunset brings a new dawn.”
- “Count your blessings, not your problems.”
- “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”
- “Challenges are just opportunities in disguise.”
- “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”
- “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
- “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
- “The only way is up.”
- “The best is yet to come.”
- “When it rains, look for rainbows.”
- “Hope is the beacon which points to prosperity.”
- “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
- “Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.”
- “Turn your face towards the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”
- “The future is as bright as your faith.”
- “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”
- “Every moment is a fresh beginning.”
- “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
- “Believe in miracles.”
- “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”
- “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.”
- “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
- “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
- “Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine.”
- “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
- “Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
- “Do not wait for the storm to pass, learn to dance in the rain.”
- “Always end the day with a positive thought.”
- “Hope is a waking dream.”
- “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.”
- “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”
- “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
- “Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger and never last forever.”
- “Start each day with a positive thought.”
- “Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.”
- “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”
- “Believe you deserve it and the universe will serve it.”
- “The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow.”
- “Every morning we are born again. What we do today matters most.”
Optimism has been linked to several positive health benefits. Researchers have associated optimism with reduced anxiety levels, lessened chances of developing chronic diseases, lower mortality rates, and improved overall health (Rasmussen, Scheier & Greenhouse, 2009).
A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health (Kim, Kubzansky, Boehm, Levkoff, & Kawachi, 2014) revealed that positive psychological wellbeing, largely driven by optimism, was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease (e.g., participants who regularly portrayed a positive outlook were found to have an 11% lower risk of heart disease).
Optimism also reflects significantly on one’s everyday behavior. Those with an optimistic viewpoint tend to lead a healthier lifestyle, demonstrating regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep (Friedman & Ryff, 2010).
Consider professional athletes, who, despite rigorous and physically demanding routines, maintain their fitness regimen with an optimistic frame of mind, often resulting in better performance records and a higher resilience towards stress (Beauchamp, Bray & Eys, 2017).
Overall, optimism goes beyond a mere positive attitude; it is a steadfast belief that facilitates resilience, healthier lifestyles, and efficient problem-solving skills while promoting overall well-being.
Beauchamp, M. R., Bray, S. R., & Eys, M. (2017). Group dynamics in exercise and sport psychology. Routledge.
Carver C, Scheier M, Segerstrom S (2010). Optimism. Clinical psychology review.
Friedman, E. M., & Ryff, C. D. (2010). Living well with medical comorbidities: A biopsychosocial perspective. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67(5), 535-544.
Kim, E. S., Kubzansky, L. D., Boehm, J. K., Levkoff, S. E., & Kawachi, I. (2014). Psychosocial factors and risk of hypertension: The Harvard School of Public Health Alumni Health Study. JAMA internal medicine, 174(11), 1756-1764.
Peterson, C. (2010). Looking forward through the lifespan: Developmental psychology. Pearson Education Australia.
Rasmussen, H. N., Scheier, M. F., & Greenhouse, J. B. (2009). Optimism and physical health: a meta-analytic review. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 37(3), 239-256.
Scheier, M., & Carver, C. (2018). Dispositional optimism and physical health: A long look back, a quick look forward. American Psychologist, 73(9), 1082–1094.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]