How to learn the skill of optimism

It’s easy to become so used to thinking negative thoughts that we forget there’s any other way of thinking; but there is. We have many choices in life and optimism is one of them. In the same way that you can choose whether to spend the evening chatting to a friend on the phone, or catching up on your favourite TV show with a glass of wine, we can also choose whether to have positive or negative thoughts.

In difficult times, it can be hard to accept that we can change our thought patterns, even if we can’t change what’s happening to us. But once we do, it’s much easier to start practising optimism in the same way that we would any other skill.


If your car breaks down on the way to the supermarket, you can choose to think about this one of two ways.

A negative response could be:

“Now I can’t go and get my shopping and I’ll have to wait ages for someone to come and tow me home. My day is ruined.”

When things go wrong like this, it might feel like you have every right to be fed up and angry – and you do! But it’s worth remembering that thinking this way won’t help your situation. It’ll only serve to increase the levels of stress hormones in your body and won’t help in solving the immediate challenges you’re facing.

In contrast, an optimistic response could be first recognising the facts of the situation – that your car has broken down and you won’t be able to continue your drive to get your shopping. You may initially find this annoying, which is normal. However, you don’t dwell on this. If you’re an optimistic person, you’ll try and work out what to do next – call your breakdown cover provider or a friend/family member for help, for example.

An optimistic person will also be able to consider the bigger picture. Yes, this is frustrating – but there are also many things to be grateful for, such as:

the fact that you have someone to call to come and help you.the fact that you can afford to have a car and to go shopping.

You may also think about other ways you can collect your shopping. Perhaps you can still walk to the supermarket and collect it whilst you wait for help (providing that your car has been left in a safe place), or maybe you could arrange to have it delivered instead.

As Maya Angelou famously said:

Author: wpadmin

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