1. They Go to a Job They’re Passionate About
If you wake up dreading the day and have to drag yourself out of bed to get to work, “it might be time to start looking for greener pastures,” says Ilya Pozin, Pluto TV’s chief growth officer and co-founder, in a LinkedIn blog post. He notes that optimistic people choose jobs or careers for which they have a genuine passion. “For optimists, work is more than just an opportunity for a paycheck. It’s also an opportunity to learn, grow, and do what you love.” Eventually, your happiness and satisfaction at work will seep into every other aspect of your life, too.
2. They Try, and Try Again
Optimists constantly search for new solutions to old problems, thanks to their glass-half-full mentality. In one study, participants were given anagrams that were nearly impossible to solve; the most optimistic subjects tinkered for 50 to 100 percent longer than the pessimists. And since optimists tend to stick around to solve problems long after pessimists have thrown in the towel, in the long run they tend to be more successful: at work, in relationships, you name it.
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3. They Spend Time with Other Optimists
Finding a cheery partner is the best way to become one, according to Prevention. In a yearlong study of more than 100 college-age couples at the University of Oregon, positive thinkers and their partners reported greater satisfaction in their relationships than optimist-free pairs did. And the benefits apply to any kind of relationship: marriages, friendships, or even co-workers. Odds are, the more positive your environment is, the more positive you will feel, too.
4. They Pay a “Gratitude Visit”
Taking the time to thank somebody can go a long way. When people were told to write and then personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had been especially kind to them, but whom they had never thanked properly, they experienced a huge increase in happiness, according to a study at the University of Pennsylvania. Even more, that happiness boost lasted an entire month.
5. They Find New Ways to Use Their Strengths
Many optimists are creative and find ways to share their creativity with others, like volunteering at a local children’s art camp or cooking up a new dish for their coworkers to try. If creativity doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t despair; you can actually train your brain to start thinking in the right way. Try this: write down your top five strengths, and then use one of these strengths in a new and different way every day for one week. Those who did so reported increased happiness for a full six months afterward, according to a study published in Psychologists’ Desk Reference.
6. They Smile More
As it turns out, smiling does more than make us look happy—it could also make us feel happy, too. Studies have found that smiling (one of optimists’ favourite activities) has loads of psychological and physical benefits, including lowering stress levels, improving your mood, and helping you make more friends. Researchers believe that this is because smiling reduces stress hormones and makes you appear more approachable. So the next time you’re feeling crabby, crack a grin.
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7. They Don’t Hold Grudges
Although it may be easier said than done, learning to forgive instead of passing the blame can be the fastest track to living a more positive lifestyle, according to David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism. “Make peace with your past so that it won’t spoil the present. Once you accomplish this, you will close those chapters and live a more positive and happy life,” he tells huffingtonpost.com.
8. They Write Down the Good Things That Happen to Them
If you take a few minutes each day to journal about the good things in your life, you may be well on your way to a sunnier disposition, according to Amy Przeworski, PhD, in Psychology Today. Even if it wasn’t a particularly great day, try to find something positive to say about it. “Most situations can be seen in both a positive and negative light. You just have to find the positive one and keep reminding yourself of it in order to eventually believe it,” says Przeworski. The more time you take to notice your negativity and redirect it toward positive thinking, the more optimistic you’ll train your mind to be. Plus, the benefits of positive thinking go beyond the page; a study of journaling Catholic nuns found that those who focused on more uplifting content ended up living longer.
9. They Live Healthy Lifestyles
It’s common knowledge that exercise can boost levels of serotonin, the happiness hormone, in your brain, making you feel more positive and satisfied. But optimists take care of their bodies in other ways, too, like through a healthy diet or spending time outdoors soaking up some good old vitamin D. Mezzapelle suggests getting some form of exercise and sunlight every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. It’s sure to improve your mood and your productivity.
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10. They Focus on Relationships
Optimists are often good listeners, according to Mezzapelle, which allows them to build stronger relationships. “When you listen, you open up your ability to take in more knowledge versus blocking the world with your words or your distracting thoughts. You are also demonstrating confidence and respect for others.” In the morning or after work, take the time to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with friends and family.