5 Ways to Start Being An Optimist


Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  ~ Abraham Lincoln

In the last post, I told you science has proven that our brains can be wired differently. It doesn’t happen by accident. Like Abe said, we can be as happy as we make make our minds to be.

Since we aren’t born optimistic, why do some people have beliefs that push them towards success while others have beliefs that only help them fail?

It comes from a mindset that develops over time. So where does this mindset come from? It comes from things that you can change starting today.

Your environment plays a role of breeding success or failure

It’s not where you live that’s the main factor. You could live in the suburbs or the ghetto.

It’s the effect the environment has on beliefs and dreams. How does it affect your mindset? If all you see is failure and hopelessness, it’s very hard for you to form the internal images that will nurture success.

If you grow up in an environment that provided examples of people who had overcome great odds to produce a happy life, you’ll believe it’s possible.

That’s why it’s important to take a closer look at the people you associate with the most. They have influence over you that you may not realize. If you’re surrounded by a bunch of lazy and whiny people, it’ll rub off on you.

If you surround yourself with positive and hard working people, guess how that is going to make you?

Think about the environment you’re in. Does it nurture you or bring you down? Do the five people you hang out with the most represent the type of person you aspire to be like?

Environment may be a big factor of fostering optimisim, but it’s not the only one. If it were, we’d live in a world where only the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.

Small or big events can form the beliefs that change our lives

There are some events that we will never forget. Do you remember where you were on 9/11? I’m sure you know and will never forget. I still remember how I found out the news and my initial reaction when I turned on the TV. It shook our beliefs on how safe our country is from terrorism.

Most of us have experiences we will never forget. Experiences that had such an impact on us that they are permanently in our brains forever.

A grandmother lifted a car off her grandson and saved his life. That experience had such an impact on her that it changed her beliefs.

She didn’t like talking about the event because it challenged her beliefs about what she could and could not do. She said, “If I was able to do this when I didn’t think I could, what does that say about the rest of my life? Have I wasted it?”

The story has a happy ending. Because of that experience, she believed anything was possible for her. She went back to college, got her degree, and pursued her passion of teaching geology.

Knowledge grows optimism

A way to gain knowledge is by what you feed your brain.

What you feed your brain comes from reading, watching movies and television and what you decide to focus your attention on. It can have an effect on how you view the world.

If you read about crime, war, the failing economy, and unemployment rates, you’re going to think there is no hope!

Instead use knowledge to break the chains of a limiting environment.

Be more conscious about what you’re reading and watching every day. Decide to feed your mind with positive and inspiring messages. Learn a new skill. Listen to audio CD’s in the car instead of the radio. Cut back on watching television.

It’s up to you if you want to feed your brain with clean water or dirty water.

What you decide to read or watch is decided by you. Think about what you’re giving attention to if you’re looking to change your mindset to a more optimistic one.

No matter how bad your world is you can create the beliefs, through knowledge, that will allow you to succeed.

Results are created through our past results

This one is simple. When you’ve succeeded once, it’s much easier to form the belief that you’ll succeed again.

I had never run a half marathon before almost two years ago, but when I finished my first, I wondered what else I could push myself to do that I had never thought of before? What else could I achieve with deliberate practice and consistency?

I developed one iPhone app. Now, I have the belief that I can do it again. Before I started, I didn’t think that way.

Often we forget that successes we have. When we try to tackle a big goal, we think that it seems near impossible.

If you feel that way, think about the small wins you’ve had. I know you’ve had a lot of successes that you take for granted.

How about learning to walk? Riding a bike? Typing?

Often we take these abilities for granted, but being able to type well and quickly doesn’t happen over night. It takes a lot of practice. Same goes for walking and riding a bike. If you think walking is easy, tell that to someone who had a spinal injury and is learning again how to walk. It’s not easy, but we’ve mastered it.

When you set huge goals for yourself, set up some small ones along the way. You’ll feel great when you achieve them and it’ll propel you to keep going towards your bigger goals.

Create the experience in your mind as it were here now

Just as past experiences can change your internal represenatations and thus what you believe is possible, so can your imagined experience of how you want things to be in the future.

When your current situation isn’t helping you in being in a positive and powerful state of mind, you can simply create the world the way you want it to be.

I like to remind myself “act as if”. Let’s say my goal is to write a non-fiction book. Since I have no experience writing one, nor unsure if I can, I can act as if my book is already published and selling thousands of copies a month.

I’d close my eyes and really feel as if I were a successful author.

How does it feel to have people buying my books? What would I say to myself? What would I be doing every day? What did I do to achieve this?

When you try this, really feel it. Often when visualize what I want to achieve, I feel happy and calm. I’ll often have a smile on my face.

It’s not magic. It’s not voodoo. Just thinking about it isn’t enough to make it come true. But no actions begins without a thought. Those thoughts are influenced by your beliefs.

The more you visualize the success you want, the more your outside world will try to align itself with what you truly desire.

Change begins today

Starting Line

More optimism doesn’t just happen to us. We can control what we believe. We can control our life. We can change.

So much of what you do starts with a belief. If you want to succeed, it’s smart to choose your beliefs carefully, rather than going with what everyone else thinks.

If you feel like your life has been spiraling downward for awhile now, you can start to change that. Remember failure breeds failure. If you’re unhappy with not getting the results you desire for so long, you’re going to believe you won’t ever be able to produce the results you want. You end up doing little or nothing.

Instead if you start expecting that you will succeed, you’re going to begin to activate parts of your brain that will help you achieve your goals. You’re excited. You’re motivated. You expect only success. This time you won’t just try. You’ll work as hard as you can. If you get knocked down, you’ll get back up and say “That’s all you’ve got?”

If you had that kind of mindset, the chances are you’ll produce great results. And what does that do to your belief in your ability to produce great results in the future? In this case, success feeds on success and creates more success. Then momentum carries you to succeed on an even higher level.

Does this attitude work for every goal you want to achieve? No and that’s reality. There is no forumla that will guarantee flawless success every single time.

But if history has proven that if people maintain the belief systems that empower them, they’ll keep coming back with enough action and enough resourcefulness to succeed eventual. Just look at these famous people who succeeded despite failures.

It’s not too late to change your beliefs and be an optimist. You can start right now.


Photo by babasteve and tableatny
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25 responses to 5 Ways to Start Being An Optimist

  1. Great post, Benny! I was not raised in an environment where optimism was modeled for me. Quite the opposite was true and I believed that life was pain and suffering. Despite this, I refused to believe that’s all life had to offer. Believing there was no hope for happiness was to depressing and I stubbornly clung to the idea that a better life was possible.

    After many years and a lot of self discovery I have found the happy life I believed I could have. You’re absolutely right that we can affect our own beliefs and attitudes. Surrounding ourselves with positive people and positive self talk us key!

    Have a grateful day!


    • Hey Chrysta,

      You’re definitely an inspiration! You’re proof that you can overcome a negative environment. I’m glad you’ve found happiness and didn’t let your past dictate how your future would be.

  2. Benny I’m a big fan of these optimistic posts! Everyone should read this kind of material.

    As I’m reading this I’m like “Yup that’s me, Totally agree”, why doesn’t everyone feed themselves a little optimism!”

    Like you say in the last line its never to late to start !

    • Thank Jeremy! It’s not too late to start to turn things around. I hope many will find these tips helpful to incorporate in their life.

  3. Awesome post Benny! Optimism is definitely something that has a huge impact on how successful someone will be not only with business and entrepreneurship but in life. It’s all about having the right mindset. Like you mentioned, if you picture yourself succeeding and always keep in mind WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, it will make being positive and optimistic that much easier! Just don’t let optimism make you lazy – no matter how much you picture yourself being successful, if you don’t work hard you won’t be 🙂


  4. I am an absolute optimistic to the core! I told myself two years ago that I could potential retire in 2012, and today I announced my freedom. Without optimism, I wouldn’t have been able to build the Yakezie Network, grow Financial Samurai, invest and save, and now retire.

    Got to believe folks!


  5. I had a period of terrible pessimism, after a couple failed businesses and a foreclosure – but I’m back and visualizing myself as a sought after speaker, coach, and author. It’s funny how just taking action will get you enough results to begin to believe again!

  6. Neil | Butterfield July 10, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Great post once again Benny. A lot more people would achieve much more if they simply listened to what you are saying here. Well done and thanks for sharing.

  7. your so right about being a optimist. The other thing about being an optimist is that it seems to really grind on those who are so negative. Staying away from the negative people really goes along way to your own happiness
    Have a great week to all

  8. I like the most- the environment thing. The friends you hang out with and all other people close to you- influence the kind of mindset we live. From experience I agree! Yet we have the ability to change!

    • Hang around people who share your same mindset is what I’d tell people. I know for myself, just talking to people who blog and build businesses online has really helped me so much. It’s kept me motivated when I’ve felt like quitting. And congrats on the blog launch Rob!

  9. Yea, where you live/grew up is not as important as who you grew up around. I have seen happy as can be people in ghettos and I have seen depressed people in mansions.

    I like the idea of feeding positive material into your brain. I do this a lot. I don’t watch a movie or show that can depress me and instead watch things that uplift my mind. Some people can call it living in a bubble but it is simply a matter of shutting out negativity. It is a choice.


  10. I’m half pessimist and half optimist. “Knowledge grows optimism” I really love that paragraph. Thank you for sharing this great article.

  11. Thank you for reminding us of all the important things in life.
    Being an optimist also seems to mean more chances of finding and keeping happiness, all the more reason why we should always look at the bright side of things. Thanks You again

  12. Thank you for reminding us of all the important things in life.
    Being an optimist also seems to mean more chances of finding and keeping happiness, that the reason reason why we should always look at the bright side of things.

  13. Hey Benny,

    I think environment and the people you surround yourself with are two of the biggest factors when it comes to being an optimist. This becomes a tricky situation when you find it’s your own friends and family who are actually bringing you down. It can be hard to cut the cord in that case, but if you surround yourself with negative people (even if they are your own friends and family), then it’s going to be much harder to be optimistic about life.

  14. Great article and great site!

    I found this article after comparing myself to a couple other business people and they were extremely successful and it made me feel like a total loser in life.

    The thing is many people would probably consider me to be successful as I do well in my career.

    I have a feeling that turning 50 might have something to do with it in that I feel I have wasted so much time and I see these young people with their startups making millions. It could be worse!

    Reading having a career to make someone else happy. My career used to make me happy but I hate it so much that I am pursuing something completely different.

    I have learned a few things over the years. Even when I am down like i am today, I am still excited and optimistic about what I am doing. I can look at my other successes and know that I am capable of more successes in life. I have learned to quickly cut extremely negative people or sabotagers out of my life. Before, I would let these people hang around and over time they would drag me down with their laziness, insults, and gossip.

    To all the young people, don’t wait another minute to go for your goals. I didn’t discover I had a gorgeous singing voice until the age of 48. I have dreams of being a famous singer but really, at my age? Don’t get involved with friends or romantic interests who do nothing in life. People with addictions, mental problems, abusers, people who use welfare as a lifestyle, and people who play the victim card. Stay away from these people and don’t be one either.

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  1. Link Love 7/13/12 | Cordelia Calls It Quits - July 13, 2012

    […] 5 Ways to Start Being An Optimist It’s not magic. It’s not voodoo. Just thinking about it isn’t enough to make it come true. But no actions begins without a thought. Those thoughts are influenced by your beliefs. […]