5 Things Optimistic People Do Differently

The only thing stopping you from being happy is your mindset.

Written BY

Matt Lillywhite

Playing at the intersection of education, mental health and relationships.

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March 3, 2020

5 Things Optimistic People Do Differently

What if you were no longer concerned with the actions of other people, and you began to accept things as they are?

Think about how optimistic you would feel each day, knowing that you have control over your future. Your life would be beautiful, wouldn’t it?

For the longest time, I found myself blaming other people for any adversity that I faced. Despite wanting to live a happy life, I couldn’t help but feel like a victim whenever someone wronged me or made me feel insecure about my appearance.

But while walking through the streets of Sydney on vacation, I stumbled across the following quote from Marcus Aurelius, which completely transformed my way of thinking:

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

I’ve discovered that optimism isn’t reliant on the actions of others, and merely hoping that everything is going to be okay. Instead, it’s a profound mindset shift that enables you to accept everything you can’t control, so you can focus on what you can.

So if you want to be more optimistic, understanding your thought processes in any given situation is a great place to start. Each of the following insights into the attitudes of optimistic people changed my life, and I’m sure that they’ll do the same for you, too.

They Are Empathetic To Negativity

When you genuinely understand why someone is pessimistic, it’s a lot more difficult to let their comments affect you. For example, they might feel jealous that you can afford a vacation, so they might post a hateful comment on your Instagram post merely to feel better about their situation.

Of course, there are going to be moments when hateful comments get to your head, despite your best efforts to prevent them. But when you understand that negativity often stems from jealousy & insecurity, your entire life will change as you’ll no longer be upset whenever someone tries to put you down.

Whenever you notice someone being pessimistic, take a moment to be empathetic to their situation, and you’ll discover that negative comments will affect you much less frequently in the future.

They Are Grateful For What They Have

If you’re always searching for ways to improve, it’s challenging to recognize the importance of being grateful for what you already have.

Perhaps this is what Epicurus meant when he said,

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

So instead of always wanting to change your life, I’ve found that a better solution is being grateful for the present moment and accepting things as they are. For example, I’ll write a few sentences in my gratitude journal before going to bed so I can focus on the positive elements of my life.

Although practicing gratitude may seem like a quick task in your daily routine, the positive effect it will have on your mental health is profound.

They Take Responsibility For Their Actions

One of the biggest mistakes I made was not taking responsibility for my actions. As a result, I developed a feeling of entitlement, which made me believe that everyone else would fix my problems.

I’ve recently started owning up to my mistakes in daily life. For example, I’ll be open about the fact that I don’t have enough information on a specific topic to create an informed opinion during an argument.

Even though my ego is damaged, I’ve found that it’s easier to be optimistic when I’m honest during every conversation.

Admit to your errors, take ownership of your actions, and do anything else that stops you from placing the blame on other people. Because when you start taking responsibility for your mistakes, you’ll be in control of your future as each of your actions will either have a positive or negative consequence.

They Forgive People’s Mistakes

The mistakes of other people have hurt every single one of us. But unless you have the strength to focus on creating a better future, you’ll always have a bad habit of holding onto trivial grudges from the past. As Epictetus once said:

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

When the mistakes of other people do not define you, I’ve discovered that you’ll gain a newly-found sense of mental clarity as your mind can begin to focus on the things that genuinely matter.

So take a moment to forgive everyone for their past mistakes. Because when your mind isn’t preoccupied with negative thoughts, it’s much easier to focus on the positive aspects of life. Marcus Aurelius said it best: “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”

They Don’t Live Their Lives For Other People

When your confidence is subject to the opinions of others, you’ll inevitably experience a lack of self-worth whenever someone says something negative. After all, it’s impossible to make yourself happy when your happiness is dependent on receiving validation from other people.

So if you want to begin fulfilling your potential, and living each day with a renewed sense of optimism, letting go of external judgment is a great place to start. In the words of Marcus Aurelius:

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”

So every day, ask yourself: “What actions can I take right now to remove negativity from my mind so I can be optimistic about the future?”

That’s all you need to do.

Further Reading
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