11 Steps to a More Optimistic and Positive Attitude

optimistic and positive attitude

Our attitude has a profound effect on the quality of our life. Optimism and pessimism create two completely different realities. By taking a few simple steps to adopt a more optimistic and positive attitude, you can enjoy both immediate and long term benefits.

“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.” ~Earl Nightingale

Increased happiness is one of the immediate positive effects of a more optimistic attitude. The fact is, optimistic people tend to experience much greater personal joy on a day-to-day basis than their pessimistic counterparts.

The prospect of a longer healthier life is also a scientifically proven benefit of living with an optimistic and positive attitude. In contrast, a negative, pessimistic mindset has been shown to contribute to scores of health challenges including immune disorders, cancer, and heart problems. All other factors being equal, a happier life means a healthier life.

11 Practical steps to a more optimistic and positive attitude

Learning to maintain a positive attitude during stressful times can be challenging. It may take some time before your natural response to almost any situation is optimistic. However, when you consider both the short term and long range benefits, your efforts are bound to pay big dividends. Let’s consider 11 simple steps you can start using immediately to move you in a more optimistic direction.

1. Think Gratitude. A grateful mindset exerts a powerful influence on your outlook. Not only does it make you feel good in the moment, it also shifts your focus in a positive and optimistic direction. Turn your attention toward your blessings and keep it there. As you focus more on what you are grateful for in your life (even the really small blessings!), you will worry less about anything that may be lacking. As a result, you will experience a more pervasive sense of happiness!

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” ~Cicero

2. Choose Happiness. Being happy is not about circumstances or any other outside force. Happiness is a decision we make. Why not make up your mind to embrace happiness, starting now? Go ahead and make a decision. Let your personal identity get all wrapped up in the concept of happiness. Fold it around yourself like a big comfortable blanket.

“The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.” ~Martha Washington

3. Substitute Challenges for Problems. Subconsciously, the word problem says, “Life is not as it should be.” This causes your energy to be funneled toward repairing something that’s gone wrong. On the other hand, the word challenge sends no such message. Instead of trying to repair a malfunction, your resources are recruited to search for a new opportunity. Seeing an experience as a challenge will focus your attention on a positive outcome.

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”~Winston Churchill

4. View Life as a Journey. A journey is an adventure of discovery. When we are on a journey we don’t fear change, we welcome it. We look forward to new and unfamiliar experiences. On a journey we are optimistic about new experiences because we are filled with the expectation of a wonderful adventure. This is the perfect positive attitude to carry with you every day.

5. Stop and Smell the Roses. When you constantly feel rushed and scattered, it can be difficult to maintain an optimistic outlook. Buying out regular opportunities to focus on simple pleasures can help restore a sense of balance to your life. By pausing briefly to really taste your food or enjoy a beautiful piece of music, you remind yourself of the joy of simplicity.

“It is always wise to stop wishing for things long enough to enjoy the fragrance of those now flowering.” ~Patrice Gifford

6. Begin Your Day On a Positive Note. Find a few minutes each morning to clear your mind and then think positive thoughts about the upcoming day. Focus on the people and events that bring you joy or a sense of satisfaction. What’s your favorite part of the day going to be? Take some time to look forward to everything that you will enjoy. Now carry that optimistic feeling with you all day long, even during the less enjoyable activities. Let your optimistic and positive attitude flow into your entire day.

7. Be Positively Aware. Make it a habit to actively search for the positive side of everything. Turn it into a private game. With practice, you will be surprised how easy it becomes to see the not so obvious benefits and pleasures all around you. Being alert to all the reasons to feel optimistic about your life also helps move your attention away from the negative side of life.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~Max Planck

8. Act Out Happy. You can use words and body language to program your nervous system. When you make a conscious effort to walk the walk and talk the talk, your feelings will soon follow. Our personal perspective takes a lot of clues from how we act. If you act like a happy optimistic person, your mind accepts that as your reality. Try it and see for yourself.

9. Hang Out With Optimistic People. Use the power of peer influence to feed your sense of optimism. The positive attitude of the people around you can be a powerful force for good. Seek out the company of those with a sunny disposition and let yourself be influenced by their optimism. Use the group dynamic to your benefit.

10. Do A Gratitude Review Nightly. This is a great way to end your day. Before you go to bed think of at least ten things that you are truly grateful for. Let yourself feel the joy that those things bring to your life. Fall asleep reflecting on your blessings.

“Reflect each day on all you have to be grateful for and you will receive more to be grateful for.” ~Chuck Danes

11. Minimize Exposure to Negative Influences. Stop watching, reading, or listening to the news. If you can free yourself from this negative influence it will change your life. Without that pervasive daily dose of despair, you will find it so much easier to be optimistic and to focus on positive things in life.

30 Days to a more positive you!

Print out this list and read it daily, it will help you stay on track. If you catch yourself sliding into a pessimistic head space, stop and review your list. All you need to do is stay the course for 30 days and these thing will become part of your new, optimistic nature.

How important is an optimistic and positive attitude?
What ways have you found to stay optimistic?
The lines are open!

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This short video (6 min.) explains why many people feel disappointed and
let down by life, and what it really takes to experience greater satisfaction.


  1. Mike King July 6, 2009 Reply

    Love the list and the quotes on this one. Your first sentence says more than one might take from it. Attitude is what matters here, you have to CHOOSE these things and WANT these things to be more positive as well. Practical or not, you can’t adopt any of these things without a desire and attitude that welcomes it.

    Great stuff!.

    • Jonathan July 7, 2009 Reply

      Hey Mike, your comment reminded me of a quote. I can’t remember who said it but it goes something like this: “Take charge of your attitude. Don’t let someone else choose it for you.”

  2. Arswino July 7, 2009 Reply

    These are powerful tips, Jonathan.
    I am agree with you that happiness is not in our circumstances, but it is in our mind.

    • Jonathan July 7, 2009 Reply

      Hi Arswino, thanks for stopping by. Isn’t it nice to know that happiness is something we can control? I find it empowering.

  3. kate smedley July 7, 2009 Reply

    It is all down to attitude and a positive attitude is so important. Great article as always, thank you for sharing with us.

    • Jonathan July 7, 2009 Reply

      Thanks Kate, glad you could join us.

  4. Kikolani July 7, 2009 Reply

    I really like the last tip. As much as I would like to be more aware of the news, locally and worldwide, I find that most of it is negative and depressing. When I would watch the local news, I would be absolutely surprised if they reported about somebody surviving something, or someone having something good happen to them. So I just stopped watching, and that lightened my mental load tremendously.

    ~ Kristi

    • Jonathan July 7, 2009 Reply

      Good decision Kristi. It’s amazing how many people feel that they are addicted to the news. You chose wisely.

  5. Rocket Bunny July 7, 2009 Reply

    This is a wonderful post. I enjoyed the reading the Martha Washington quote, words of wisdom then, all the quotes have so much value. You have a wonderful list that we all should live by.
    One thing I feel is responsible for happiness are my friends. I surround myself with inspiriting and happy people on line and off line. Like you : )
    Thank you for writing this, it is solid advice.

    • Jonathan July 7, 2009 Reply

      Hi Bunny, I really enjoy insightful quotes also. The people in our lives have a huge influence on our attitude and outlook. I’m sure you are benefiting in many ways because of your wise choice in associates.

  6. Mike King July 7, 2009 Reply

    I had to come back to this again. Item #11 has been critical in my life. I don’t watch the news ever (other than a bit of news from radio or comics) since it really adds nothing to my life or others. I still heard about and learn about major events enough via relationships and its much easier to stay positive and ignore the crap I don’t want to hear anyway. This is one action step that will have a huge impact for anyone who is willing to do it. Try it for a month, you won’t go back if you actually watch how it changes your attitude.!!

    • Hi Mike, glad you came back to comment on this point. Very few people realize the negative impact of the nightly news. It’s encouraging to hear that you have freed yourself from this over sensationalized negative influence. I haven’t watched the news in over 25 years, and like you I still know the important stuff. Thanks for your feedback.

  7. Stephen July 7, 2009 Reply

    Jonathan, fantastic article!

    ““Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.” -Earl Nightingale

    I love that quote!

    I quit watching the news, and almost all of the rest of TV as well some time ago. Now, I find I can hardly stand to have the TV on.

    • Jonathan July 7, 2009 Reply

      Hey Stephen, Earl Nightingale was one of my personal development mentors way back when. It’s funny how a little absence from “the tube” changes our perspective. Congratulations on breaking free from the grip of “public programing.”

  8. Dragos Roua July 7, 2009 Reply

    I especially liked the Act Out Happy one :-) Great list, simple things are the best things in life. :-)

    • Jonathan July 9, 2009 Reply

      Hi Dragos, most people don’t realize how our actions actually program our minds. While recognizing that our actions are usually a reflection of our mindset, we can also reverse the process.

  9. Yogesh Gautam July 7, 2009 Reply

    Thanks for listing valuable tips and interesting collection of quote! I have bookmark your blog, i will read it at weekend.

  10. Vin July 8, 2009 Reply

    I couldn’t agree more that a happier life leads to a healthier life. It applies in reverse as well!

    Every single one of these tips is excellent! I’m naturally a pessimist, and although I’ve gotten much better about shaping a positive outlook, I still need to work on it. I think this list will be very helpful!

    • Jonathan July 9, 2009 Reply

      Hey Vin, I am so glad you found this useful. Periodic reminders can sure go a long way toward helping us stay on track. Sometimes, that’s all we need to readjust our thinking.

  11. George Serradinho July 9, 2009 Reply

    A great list and my favorite has to be ‘Choose Happiness’. I recently got divorced and was in the dumps, I had to believe in myself and choose to be happy even though I was experiencing loads of pain.

    We can choose to take the easy way out and let the issues and problems we face bring us down or we can choose the hard way and create a better life for us by being happy and enjoy life to the fullest.

    Thanks for sharing these points, it’s sure to make others feel better :)

    • Jonathan July 9, 2009 Reply

      Hi George, thanks for joining in. Sorry to hear about your divorce, but I am thrilled that you are choosing to grow from the experience. Spent some time on your blog and found it very informative, especially the article about Thesis.

  12. Robin Easton July 9, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jonathan, This is SUCH a soothing, healing and easily implemented list of things to improve our attitudes. I particularly love gratitude and seeing life as a journey. The gratitude thing came about after suffering a particularly long bout of physical pain. It made me thankful for every single moment and the most simple of things. And seeing life as a journey has been something I chose at the age of 25, BUT I am really understanding and living all the way to my deepest core the last few years. It is a wonderful thing because I think it allows us to let go more. We aren’t as attached to outcomes, but are more attached to whole adventure of Life or Life’s experiences no matter what they are.

    You writing is beautiful and kept simple, which allows people to stay more in their bodies and hearts and less in their heads. I think that’s because the information goes into us more directly. I like that. Thank you my friend. Robin

  13. LJ July 27, 2009 Reply

    I think #11 could be expanded to go with #9: not only is it good to hang out with positive people, but you need to jettison those habitually negative people from your life.

  14. Miche November 13, 2009 Reply

    Great post! I think you’ve included some really important elements here. 4,5,6,10,11 are my favorites. Taking time to smell the roses, approaching life as a journey, crafting our day at the beginning and at the end with gratitude. These small actions and mindsets really can have a profound effect on our outlook and shape how we experience life. They help create the mindset for experiencing more joy, the joy that’s often simple and right in front of us, that we can easily miss if we are not “tuned in” to notice it.

    Thanks for sharing this!
    -Miche :)

  15. Alexandra Barrett November 14, 2009 Reply

    Well you certainly got #1 and #2 in the right order and priority! I agree with all your choices and compliments on your entire blog!

    This site/blog aligns well with my thinking, writing and feelings about living a downstream * feel good * life. That is my laser focus til the end of the year especially. I am keeping records of each day.

  16. Joel July 15, 2011 Reply

    The metaphor of life being a journey is a great one to reflect on, because it reminds us that the landscape of life is continually changing and that our experiences are part of a process rather that a finished product.

  17. Justin August 17, 2011 Reply

    You really touched base on the aspects of becoming more positive and also finding more of you along the way. Through these steps to gain a positive you, I feel you are also gaining more of yourself in the process.

  18. Stephen.J.Hepburn September 22, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for your list and many of the related comments, I have been challenged by depression and anxiety since I was a teenager, I am now in my late thirties. I have been seeking help and always trying to self help over the years, in many different ways, for example, psychology, medication, groups, E.F.T. and am currently embarking on C.B.T.
    I want so much to feel safe and content and optimistic, but to this point still haven’t achieved it. I will try doing what is on this list in the hope it may help and if you have any other advice it would be appreciated, Stephen

  19. khalida July 15, 2012 Reply

    i read this artical feeling much more possitive in myself, thanks alot

  20. Jim Dean March 13, 2013 Reply

    How coincidental. I have a friend who puts videos on Facebook and many are comical. I just complimented her for doing that. I usually start my day by reading the news while having breakfast. Then I watch her videos. The comment about not readings the news is well taken as watching her videos clears away all the doom and gloom from the news and puts me in a good mood for the day.

  21. Swapna Michael July 12, 2013 Reply

    Actually I was searching the net for an article on positive attitude that would help me take a class for my students .Accidentally I came across this blog and on reading it as well as the comments from others,dear Jonathan ,I felt i came to the right place. It is such a wonderful article and I find it useful for myself and would be useful my teenage students.The quotes are also touching and properly placed.I think I should practice these steps before I take a class.Thank U for such a wonderful blog.

  22. Amy August 17, 2013 Reply

    Thank you, just what I was looking for

  23. Jennifer February 6, 2014 Reply

    What a great way to live life! Thank you – great article.

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