Optimism: 8 benefits & 12 tips for positive thinking (+ sayings)
How happy you are depends only to a limited extent on external circumstances. Your thinking is much more important. With our tips, you can learn about optimism and how to become happier overall.
Everyone has been in a situation in life where it was difficult to think positively. Yet it is precisely with our thoughts that we control our well-being. The good thing is: you too can train your mind and teach it optimism.
What optimism is
Optimism or positive thinking means seeing the famous "glass half full" in a situation, that is, noticing its positive aspects rather than its negative ones.
It also means having confidence in something, believing in successes and possibilities, and tackling things that others think are not feasible.
Almost all of history’s great successes have to do with positive thinking: Someone believed in an almost unbelievable possibility and made it happen.
But positive thinking has many other benefits for your life:
- Focusing on the good things makes you happy.
- If you always see the bad things, the dangers and failures, you will soon be paralyzed. Positive thinking keeps you able to act and ensures that you can always get up and move on.
- Positive thinking makes you healthier: if you believe you can heal, you have a much higher chance of beating even bad diseases.
- Optimism is an important prerequisite for professional and personal success.
- When you learn positive thinking, you learn a second important lesson in the process: you are the master of your thoughts, you can decide for yourself what you think up to a certain point. This opens up whole new possibilities!
- A positive view of yourself and your successes strengthens self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Positive thinking makes you open to new things and helps you expand your horizons.
- It has been found that the sensory organs of positively minded people function better. So negative thinking seems not only in the figurative sense that we "close our eyes".
What positive thinking is NOT
Many people first roll their eyes at the topic of "positive thinking" or "optimism". The reason is a misconception of what is actually meant by it.
Positive thinking does not mean simply blocking out everything negative. And it certainly doesn’t mean just prancing through the world with a soulful attitude, as some people might imagine.
Optimism is just as realistic as pessimism: After all, there is virtually nothing that is only positive or only negative. Which aspects you focus on is entirely up to you.
Learning to be optimistic: tips and tricks
With a few small changes in your everyday life you already take a big step towards positive thinking.
Because often there is already a lot of positivity in your life, you just need to learn to put your focus on it. On the other hand, don’t let negativity get too close. We’ll explain how to do that.
Drain negative thoughts from your attention
Negative thoughts can have tremendous power. They destroy your mood, your courage, and your joy. However, you don’t have to give them that power.
You can simply withdraw your attention from negative thoughts. Of course, this does not mean that they will no longer be there. But they won’t have such a big influence on you anymore.
And this is how it works: When you notice that you are once again preoccupied with worries, fears, self-reproaches or other negative thoughts, draw an energetic line in your mind and turn to other things. Distract yourself from the negative thoughts, they don’t help you anyway.
A good method to let go of negative thoughts is meditation. For example, you focus completely on your breath, your body or smells.
There are people who always go through life grouchy and others who always have a smile on their lips. The smiling ones are almost always the happier people.
The reason also lies in the smile itself: Researchers have found that a positive facial expression releases happiness hormones almost immediately. The brain seems to pick up information about how you’re doing from the facial muscles, too.
So smiling makes you more relaxed and content, and that helps you see things around you as not quite so black.
Always look for the good in a situation
There is almost always something good in a situation, even if it’s just something you can learn from it. You can also interpret obstacles as challenges, and mistakes as learning opportunities.
If you can’t find a parking space near your apartment, you can either get angry or enjoy the little evening walk. If the food you need for your recipe is sold out, it’s a chance to experiment with something new.
Granted: When it comes to big, existential issues, it’s often very hard to find something positive. "It’ll be good for something" is unhelpful advice for someone who is grieving a terrible loss. But on a small scale, there are countless opportunities to look more closely and find the positive. And eventually, you’ll be able to do that with bigger issues, too.
Keep a gratitude journal
Even though sometimes everything looks bad: There are certainly plenty of things in your life to be grateful for. By keeping a gratitude journal, you focus on those things instead of the perceived lack.
Just write down three things every morning or evening that you are grateful for. It doesn’t matter if they are the same ones over and over again.
The main thing is that you notice that they are there. And over time, you’ll notice more and more positive things in your life.
Dose the news
Disaster news on television, radio, social media and through other channels can quickly give the impression that there is nothing but bad in the world. This, of course, is not the case.
In addition to the major disasters and acts of violence, there are millions of positive things happening every day. Only these are not the reports that run first in the news.
To soften the negative impression, it can help to dose the news. Simply stop watching the news for a while, or at least isolate yourself from the constant messages popping up on social media. Don’t allow yourself to be incessantly bombarded with negativity.
Remove yourself from complainers
Whether we are positive or negative also depends on the people who surround us. If you’re constantly dealing with people who bitch and moan, that negative attitude will rub off on you, too.
Conversely, fun-loving people can also make you happier. Do the grumpy ones or the sunny ones predominate in your environment?
Get rid of your victim role
Thinking positively also means taking full responsibility for your own life. Say goodbye to thinking that you are the victim to whom bad things keep happening.
You are in control of many more aspects of your life than you think. Once you understand this in its entirety, it will be much easier for you to embrace the possibilities in a situation.
The neighbors have such a nice apartment and a big car, the colleague is slimmer and prettier, and the cousin is much more successful in his job than you are.
Such comparisons make you unhappy and are an expression of negative thinking.
You could just as well compare yourself with the many people who are worse off than you. But you probably rarely do.
You tend to compare yourself in every area with someone who is supposedly better off. If you manage to avoid these comparisons, your basic attitude will almost automatically change towards the positive.
Clear your successes with positive thinking
Even though it may not feel like it sometimes, you’ve already accomplished a lot in your life. Why don’t you make a list of all the successes you can think of: your school-leaving qualifications, your driving license, difficult situations you’ve mastered, the children you’ve raised in a halfway decent way after all, the move to a nicer apartment, completed projects, … If you think about it, you’re sure to come up with a whole lot.
Then keep adding to this list with the little things you encounter every day. You finally made an overdue doctor’s appointment or fixed that dripping faucet? Great! A daily "I’ve-done-that" list is much more motivating than a to-do list.
Be mindful of your limits and needs
It’s very hard to stay positive when your boundaries are constantly being disregarded. Paying attention to your needs and boundaries is therefore an important step on the path to positive thinking. Take good care of yourself.
Start the day with positive thoughts
If you start first thing in the morning by consciously thinking something positive, the rest of the day will go better right away. To do this, this exercise helps: every morning, put yourself in a situation in which you were doing really well, in which you were happy and carefree and felt really good. Try to feel that situation again, and enjoy that positive moment.
Read books about being happy
There is a lot more to say about positive thinking and about being happy than is possible in one article. What’s more, dealing with these topics helps to change your thinking. So read a book about happiness and other positive topics regularly.
Sayings about optimism and positive thinking
Also, inspirational sayings can help you think more positive thoughts. Many personalities already recognized the far-reaching effects of positive thoughts and optimism.
The following sayings and quotes reflect their experiences with positive thinking.
- "Choose to be optimistic, it feels better."
- "There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view."
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
- "Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life."
- "The true optimists are not convinced that everything will go well. But they are convinced that not everything will go wrong."
- "The greatest people are those who are able to give hope."
- "The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts."
- "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
(William L. Watkinson)
- "Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power."
- "Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still."
- "In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision."
Uplifting sayings for more courage and strength
The following sayings are meant to give you more courage and strength, for example in case of an illness or crisis. You can take them for yourself as inspiration or send them to a good friend or a friend.
- "Correction does much, but encouragement does more."
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
- "Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others."
- "Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others."
- "We do not need to live on as we lived yesterday. Let’s get rid of this view, and a thousand possibilities invite us to a new life."
- "How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them."
- "If there is a faith which can move mountains, then it is a faith in one’s own strength."
(Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach)
- "There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires."
- "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."
- "Courage conquers all things: it even gives strength to the body."
- "Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage."