How To Stay Optimistic In Difficult Times

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We all go through various challenges and situations that can make us feel down, stressed or overwhelmed. One of the powerful tools to overcome these feelings is optimism.

Even in the worst of times, the tiniest fragments of good survive. It was the grip in which one held those fragments that counted. -Melina Marchetta Share on X

Here are some ways to stay optimistic in difficult times by increasing your levels of optimism.

What Is Optimism?

Optimism is a mental attitude characterized by positive thoughts and expectations about the future. It is the belief that things will work out for the best and that good things will happen. Optimism is not the same as being unrealistic or naive. It’s about having a positive outlook while still being aware of the challenges and obstacles that may arise.

Forward Steps Personal Development Collection ImageIt is a mental attitude that enables people to view the world through a positive lens, even in the face of adversity. An optimistic person believes that good things will happen and this belief fuels them with hope, motivation and resilience.

Why Is Optimism Important?

When you have a positive outlook, you’re more likely to take action towards your goals and persist in the face of obstacles. An optimistic person is more likely to see setbacks as temporary and overcome them. They are also more open to new opportunities and experiences, which helps them achieve their goals.

When you have a positive outlook, you’re less likely to experience negative emotions such as anxiety and depression. An optimistic person is more likely to have a healthy coping mechanism, which reduces the impact of stress on their lives.

Focus on an ocean of positives, not a puddle of negatives. -Kevin Ansbro Share on X

Optimistic people tend to have better relationships with others. People are naturally drawn to optimistic individuals and optimistic individuals are more likely to have positive and fulfilling relationships. They tend to communicate more effectively and have a better sense of empathy towards others.

Ways To Increase Your Levels Of Optimism

While some people may be naturally optimistic, others may need to work at it. The good news is that increasing your levels of optimism is achievable by incorporating a few of the following simple yet effective strategies into your daily routine.

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Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is the act of focusing on the good things in your life and being thankful for them. Research has shown that practicing gratitude can increase levels of positive emotions, reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

To practice gratitude, try keeping a gratitude journal. Each day, write down three things you’re grateful for. These can be big or small things, such as a sunny day, a delicious meal or spending time with loved ones.

Gratitude is a powerful tool that can help shift your mindset from negative to positive. By focusing on the things you’re grateful for, you can cultivate a more optimistic outlook on life. Take a few minutes each day to reflect on the things you’re thankful for, whether it’s your health, your loved ones or even the little things like a good cup of coffee.

Focus On Solutions

When faced with a challenge, it’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of the situation. However, this can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Real optimism is not the pep talk you give yourself. It is earned through the labor involved in emotional housekeeping. Augusten Burroughs Share on X

Instead of dwelling on problems, focus on finding solutions. This can help you feel more empowered and in control of your life. When faced with a challenge, ask yourself what steps you can take to overcome it. By focusing on solutions, you can increase your levels of optimism and confidence.

Forward Steps - Stay Optimistic In Difficult Times quote 1500px_1Ask yourself, “What can I do to improve this situation?” or “What steps can I take to achieve my goals?” You’ll feel more empowered and optimistic about the future.

Surround Yourself With Positive People

The people you surround yourself with can have a significant impact on your levels of optimism. If you spend time with negative or pessimistic people, it can bring you down and make it harder to stay optimistic.

Surround yourself with positive and optimistic people. Seek out friends, family members or colleagues who have a positive outlook on life. These people can help you maintain a positive mindset and provide a source of inspiration when you need it.

When you spend time with these individuals, their positive energy will rub off on you and you’ll feel more optimistic and hopeful too.

Practice Positive Self-Talk

The way you talk to yourself can have a profound impact on your levels of optimism. If you’re constantly putting yourself down or focusing on your flaws and weaknesses, it can be challenging to feel optimistic about the future.

Even the smallest changes in our daily routine can create incredible ripple effects that expand our vision of what is possible. -Charles F. Glassman Share on X

When you notice negative self-talk creeping in, challenge it with positive affirmations. For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I’m not good enough,” challenge that thought with, “I am worthy and capable of achieving my goals”, instead of saying “I can’t do this,” say “I’m capable of overcoming this challenge”.

Forward Steps - Stay Optimistic In Difficult Times quote 1500px_2Practice reframing negative thoughts into positive ones. By changing the way you talk to yourself, you can build a more positive mindset.

Engage In Self-Care

Prioritizing self-care can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being, you’ll feel more optimistic and positive about the future. When you take care of yourself, you feel better both physically and emotionally. Engaging in self-care activities such as exercise, meditation or spending time in nature can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.

Try to make self-care a regular part of your routine. Set aside time each day to do something that makes you feel good. This can be as simple as taking a walk outside or reading a book.

My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud. -Henry Rollins Share on X

Set Realistic Goals

When you set goals that are achievable, you’ll feel more confident and optimistic about the future. On the other hand, if you set goals that are unrealistic or unattainable, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.

Break your goals down into smaller, more manageable steps and celebrate your progress along the way. By setting realistic goals, you’ll feel more motivated and optimistic about achieving them.

Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity

Forward Steps - Stay Optimistic In Difficult Times quote 1500px_5With a growth mindset, you’re more likely to view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than a reflection of your abilities. Many of the most successful people in the world have experienced significant failures on their journey.

Embracing failure as a learning opportunity can help you develop resilience, gain valuable insights and ultimately achieve your goals.

The key is to view failure as a natural part of the learning process and to use it as an opportunity to grow and improve. The only real failure is not learning from your mistakes.

Find Meaning and Purpose

When you have a sense of purpose and meaning, it can help you stay motivated, focused and optimistic even in challenging times. To find meaning and purpose, start by identifying what matters most to you.

Reflect on your values, interests, and passions and find ways to incorporate them into your daily life. Remember, finding meaning and purpose is a lifelong journey and may require experimentation and exploration.

Feeling lost, chaotic and desperate belongs to a good life as much as optimism, certainty and reason. -Alain de Botton Share on X

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a powerful tool for cultivating optimism and well-being. It involves being fully present in the moment and observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness can help you reduce stress, increase self-awareness and cultivate a more positive and present-moment focused mindset.

Forward Steps - Stay Optimistic In Difficult Times quote 1500px_3To practice mindfulness, try incorporating meditation, deep breathing exercises or mindful movement into your daily routine.

Visualize Success

When you visualize success, you’re creating a mental image of yourself achieving your goals. This can help increase your confidence and motivation, making it more likely that you’ll take action towards achieving your goals.

Take a few minutes each day to close your eyes and imagine yourself achieving your goals. Visualize yourself taking the necessary steps and overcoming any obstacles that may arise. This can help you develop a more optimistic outlook and increase your belief in your ability to succeed.

Incorporate Positive Habits

Try incorporating one or two positive habits into your daily routine and see how they impact your levels of optimism. For example, practicing mindfulness or meditation can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.

Unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so. -Noam Chomsky Share on X

Similarly, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise can help improve your physical and mental health.

Take Action

The key is to break your goals down into small, achievable steps and take consistent action towards them. When you take action, you build momentum and increase your sense of control and agency.

Taking action doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s the process of taking consistent, small forward steps towards your goals that will ultimately lead to success.

Engage in Humor and Laughter

Forward Steps - Stay Optimistic In Difficult Times quote 1500px_4Engaging in humor and laughter can help reduce stress, increase happiness and improve your overall well-being.

To incorporate humor and laughter into your life, try watching a funny movie, spending time with funny people, or finding the humor in challenging situations. Laughter is contagious, so don’t be afraid to share a laugh with others.

Embrace The Journey

You can cultivate a more positive mindset and develop the confidence and resilience you need to succeed.

Increasing your levels of optimism is a journey. It takes time, dedication and consistent effort. Yet, with persistence and a willingness to learn and grow, you can develop a more optimistic outlook on life and achieve your goals.

Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. -Nelson Mandela Share on X

Optimism is not about ignoring the challenges and obstacles in life, it’s about having a positive outlook and belief that good things will happen. So start cultivating your optimism today and watch as your life transforms for the better.

PLUS check out these free gifts from friends…CHECK out the following great resources as well…Forward Steps Personal Development ยป How To Stay Optimistic In Difficult Times

Hi, I'm Thea Westra at Forward Steps (

Hi, I'm Thea Westra at Forward Steps (

Since March 2003, I've been sharing practical, positive, thought provoking and inspiring self improvement content online. My aim is simple - to offer tips and resources that help us enhance our daily experience of life and to keep stepping forward. Perth, Western Australia is the place I call home and I'm the author of "Time For My Life: 365 Stepping Stones". You might also know me from the Forward Steps personal development blog and the daily series of "365 Forward Steps Notes", all designed to add wings to our unique life journeys.

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