How can I teach myself to be optimistic?

Optimism is the tendency to have positive expectations. Optimists pay attention to the things that go well and anticipate potential for positive outcomes, fostering hope and a positive mood. In depression, individuals tend to expect a bad situation to remain the same or worsen (pessimism) and become highly attuned to things that went wrong during their day, failing to notice the many things that went right. Pessimism fosters feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair. While some people are naturally more optimistic than others, optimism can be a learned perspective. How? This can be done by shifting attention to focus on the positives of a situation.

Here is a good optimism activity: Reflect on the events of the day, identifying what went right. Initially, it may be challenging to identify these positive events because we take for granted the things that went right -- they escape our notice and don’t receive proper credit. For example, we may take for granted and fail to appreciate getting out of bed, finding a good parking space, or making it to an appointment on time. What went right for you?

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.