Being an Optimist: 8 Ways to Overcome Pessimism

The opposite of a leader isn’t a follower. The opposite of a leader is a pessimist.
Marcus Buckingham in The One Thing You Need to Know

Pessimism is disastrous. It ruins hope and possibilities. If someone is pessimistic, he doesn’t hope for a better future neither do something to achieve it. The obstacles along the way seem enormous, and he doubts his ability to overcome them. At the end, he will just stay where he is, without making any progress. People can waste years, even their whole lives, because of pessimism.

Pessimism is something I face every now and then, and I’m sure some of you too. So let’s fight it. Let’s overcome it so that we qualify as leaders in life.

Here are 8 ways to overcome pessimism and be an optimist:

1. Find a cause you believe in

A cause from the depth of your heart has a burning flame that can overcome any pessimism. A superficial cause won’t last long, but a cause you believe in will give you the strength to overcome any obstacles. So find yours. Find a cause that matters to you, a cause you believe in.

2. Focus on the possibilities, not the impossibilities

People become pessimistic when they focus their mind on the impossibilities. All they see is the enormity of the challenges ahead. That way, their mind is overwhelmed by the difficulties and they can no longer see themselves as the winners.

So focus your mind instead on the possibilities. See how you are able to overcome the difficulties. See how you can go through all these and be victorious.

3. Read inspiring stories

To help you focus on the possibilities, you should read inspiring stories of the people who have made it before you. It will inspire you since you know that other people can do it despite the challenges they face. Just like you, they also face enormous difficulties, but they persist and achieve their dream. So you can too.

Here are some figures you might want to read about for inspiration: the Wright brothers, Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, and Abraham Lincoln.

4. Be part of a team

It’s difficult to face everything alone. In fact, most people can never make it that way. You always need someone to lift you up when you fall. By having a team, their flame can ignite yours when you need it, and in turn, your flame can ignite theirs when they need it.

5. Connect to your cause

Sometimes we are too busy dealing with difficulties that we no longer remember why we do it in the first place. So you should have time to connect to your cause. Have some time to think about your cause and why it’s important. Let your cause inspire you and light up your fire once again. Let it reminds you of all the difference you will make if you go through all these.

6. Connect to your spiritual power source

Our strength is limited, so you need other sources of power. While your cause and friends can give you some power, a great source of power is spiritual source. By praying or meditating, you connect to a supernatural force that can give you the strength you need. For many people, this is the strongest power source.

7. Get rid of negative words

Nothing takes your optimism away faster than negative words. So get rid of them at all costs. Always see the positive side of things, and speak about hope and possibilities. I don’t know about you, but I believe that there is always positive side in everything we face. This doesn’t mean that you are denying the reality; you just look at it from a different angle.

8. Open your mind for unexpected ways

One reason people becomes pessimist is they see all the possible ways in their mind closed. Since they can no longer see any open door, they become pessimistic. But things don’t have to go the way you want it for you to succeed. The solution can come in unpredicted ways that never occur to you before.

So open your mind for such unexpectedness. Let new things happen and solve the problems. If you have this mindset, you will always have a reserve of optimism at hand.

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Photo by makelessnoise


  1. There’s an awesome 1920’s clip of Edison on his wiki page. Weird to actually see him talk, it’s like his speech is disciplined and presice, which i’m sure reflects his personality.

    I’m tired of the pessimism we get from the media on just about everything; it thrives on bad news. Hey media people, how about more GOOD news? How about a news program that’s 80% good news! I’d watch it every day.

  2. thanks for the profound wisdom!!!

  3. Matt,
    Thanks for informing me about Edison’s clip! I’ll check it out. I don’t know how Edison talked until you told me, but I agree with you that it reflects his personality: discipline and precise. No wonder he made so many inventions!

    I also agree with you about the media. We should have media that focus more on the positive side of things to ignite optimism.

    You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Two-Party
      Two-Party "Democracy" Is GREAT

      Look up Tesla and his contributions as opposed to Edison. And should corporate mainstream media continue to spin reality, or simply paint everything rosier so that you don’t know rusts coming for this planet and the species that inhabit it? I think it’s better that truth be told so that we can change the world for the better, rather than twiddle our things and hope for the best. Oh, almost forgot the obligatory God bless America!

  4. Great post! I’m adding a link back to it from my blog, the horizon post. Keep up the good work!

  5. […] This post from is a great reminder for all of us to stay optimistic. […]

  6. Thanks, Emile! I appreciate it 🙂

  7. Thanks for the great post,

    I totally agree with the reading inspiring stories of people who have made it before you. Also focussing on the Possibilities instead of the Impossibilities, Creating a ‘Can Do’ mentality that way definately makes sense.

    Also thinking about all the things your thankful for, and all the things you look forward to can – in my opinion – help you connect to your spiritual power source.

    Just as a ‘Random’ example; ‘Joke of the Day’ and ‘Funny Cartoon’ you can find on ‘HP’s Happy Blogspot’. Isn’t that something to look forward to everyday? 🙂

    All the Best,

  8. Consider the Possibilities

    I think people are much more moderate than we would be led to believe by the media and other typical sources of information.  As pointed out frequently by Atheist Revolution, it’s unsettling that we seem to have made a hard shift towards theo…

  9. Point No 7 is very important and I would add “Get rid of Negative people” In my article10 TIPS to reach your Goals and create the future YOU WANT! I mention the importance of not letting negative people brainwash you to their own mindset. Its deadly! I am currently experiencing this situation at work and its problematic to say the least, because you can’t just quit. I am resorting to amplify my positive self talk and filter out negativity. In NLP terms reality is what you as an individual are aware of. Why not make it a positive reality to live in? This, in my opinion is the essence of optimism.

    • Proud Guiltless American Sheep
      Proud Guiltless American Sheep

      Yes! And let’s keep mindlessly voting for Democrats and Republicans instead of Greens and Libertarians because we each insecurely need our singular vote “to count!” God bless America! And God bless your ignorance and naïveté. Bless you my child, bless you. Fingers crossed, right?

  10. HP,
    ‘Can do’ mentality is a good term to describe the theme of this post, I like it.

    Your thoughts about NLP and reality are interesting. I also agree with you about getting rid of negative people. Being around them can easily drain our optimism.

  11. For further study you can watch the films The Secret and What the Bleep do we know. They tell you the same story, in different words. Werry effective.
    I would also recomend the book The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent: Living the Art of Allowing.

  12. Sabina,
    Thanks for the recommendations!

  13. Thanks Donald,

    I have added a few extra comments on my blog Crystal Growth .
    I think we all have negative things or challenges in our life to ground us in the present. But how we dwell on them and deal with it depends on how pessimist or optimistic we are. The more Optimistic we are, the more we are likely to see it as a molehill and not a mountain.
    Always look on the bright side of life – Life of Brian.

  14. I agree with you, Leona. Your quote summarizes it well.

  15. […] Train yourself to be an optimist.  Yes, this is possible.  You have to start seeing the glass as half full, instead of half empty.  This takes some effort.  However, if you really want more out of life, you have to do it.  No one was born a pessimist so, it is possible to retrain your thinking.  Donald at Life Optimizer offers some great suggestions on how to do this in Being an Optimist – 8 Ways to Overcome Pessimism. […]

  16. thanks too Donald! It will probably be helpful..

  17. Hi!
    Thanks a lot. I enjoyed reading your site. Thanks for giving me hope…God bless and continue to inspire a lot of people cause it could really help.

  18. Arnold,
    I’m glad you find it useful 🙂

    Thanks for the encouraging words! I wish you all the best and God bless you too.

  19. Thanks I am not very optimistic at this point of time in my life. So ur article is indeed helpful. I wish be the confident happy person i was. your article /points make me see the efforts i need to get going with.

    • Absolute Realist
      Absolute Realist

      You and me both. You’re not alone. MILLIONS are pessimistic right now in the US and have been so since the late ’90s.

  20. Not one inspiring story about a woman mentioned in your list….interesting. The pessimist in me would say yee be a tad sexist!!

    • Proud Two-Party Voter
      Proud Two-Party Voter

      You’re lame. I like to bury my head in dirt, cross my fingers and pray for the best. And I LOVE aimless and clueless modern uber-liberalism from the past 15 years. What a great future the US has coming for it… Oh, was I being pessimistic? Or simply realistic?

  21. abdul hayee khoso
    abdul hayee khoso

    Very good and practical precise knowledge. Although present scenioro in our country Pakistan is higly disturbing by daily suiccide bombing and killing of innocent people and really disturbed by bad events, find these views higly beneficial to sooth mind and soul, when it shattered by loss of fellow human being, friend, faimly member or co country man.

  22. […] I’m agree with this article especially point no 3, 6 to 8; read inspiring story; connect to your spiritual power source; get […]

  23. Hi,

    I read the article and have found it useful. I wanted to share my story
    , I have always been an optimist, but I have gone through so many bad experiences and have dealt with them alone, that is, I had a few friends who knew about it all, but didn’t actually help. I found myself becoming a pessmist and I currently suffer from anxiety and believe this is part of the reason. I find it hard on me because I feel like it happened in an instant, as if I didn’t notice the change when it happened. I am completely aware that I am pessimistic, but my mother doesn’t help and just keeps “rubbing it in my face” and mentioning it. It is really hard on me, she is the only close family I have here. You see, I live in Israel, the area that is sometimes being bombed which is a story within itself, but my sister, who is married lives in the States and her and I have never been close partially because we are such different people (personality wise), and my father lives in Australia and for family reasons I have no contact with him. He is also the biggest reason, I beloeve, that I am a pessimistic. I didn’t grow up here in Israel and it is hard for me to now start making friends. So you see, I don’t exactly have anyone here to help me. I know it has to come within me, but having a “team” supporting me is what is missing.

    What should I do? How else can I overcome this? Especially with a mother who keeps mentioning it and that makes me even more distant from her.

  24. This has been one of the most life-changing articles I’ve ever read, and I’m thankful to have stumbled upon this. I’m trying to become a better person for myself and others, learning to grow out of pessimism. It’s very difficult at times. I read this article every day of my life. When reading it in the mornings, my day starts out fresh and it helps to remind me to keep positive. So I very much thank you for all that you’ve done for me!

  25. Thank you. It truly inspired me to be positive. Tell me more about how to connect to spiritual source

  26. I wanted to die right now. All that I saw in the world is sadness. Yes there are times that we became happy but in the end, it is still the sadness that reigns.

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