The Science of Optimism: Developing a Positive Outlook

The Science of Optimism: Developing a Positive Outlook

Positive thinking has, in some form or other, been around for decades (or even longer).

Even real optimism, as in the science-backed version of positive thinking, has been studied and taught for longer than I’ve been alive.

There are similarities.

But there are differences. And the main difference is that real optimism is grounded in reality. It’s focus is not so much on positivity but more so on what will be helpful!

Most notably, when practiced properly, real optimism creates real happiness.

And even more so, real optimism creates resilience and benefits in pretty much every aspect of life …

via Psychology Today by Kathleen Marriott


  • Practicing mindfulness, gratitude, and visualization can help individuals build confidence, focus on a positive future, and change mindsets.
  • A tangible way to start cultivating optimism is by writing down three good things that happen daily.
  • Optimism is a valuable trait that can support emotional and physical health, promote resilience, and enhance overall well-being.

When on the edge of identity, it’s easy for you to become pessimistic about the future and keep you stuck. Being on the edge of identity refers to a transition state, such as changing careers, ending a relationship, or moving to a new place, and it is where you may feel uncertain or conflicted about who you are and who you want to become. Once fear takes over, peace and motivation are hard to find in this temporary change state.

Cultivating optimism is an effective way to change a negative mindset. By developing optimism, you create a tendency to expect positive outcomes or future experiences toward your new identity as you leave your past behind while in your change state. Some people may be naturally optimistic, but research suggests that it is a trait that can be developed through intentional practice if you are not or if you find yourself stuck.

Optimism Versus Toxic Positivity

Science-based optimism and toxic positivity are vastly different approaches to dealing with challenging situations or difficult emotions. The former acknowledges and accepts the reality of a problem, encourages finding growth opportunities, focuses on what can be learned from the situation, and looks for realistic, achievable solutions based on facts. On the other hand, toxic positivity is the practice of only acknowledging and focusing on positive emotions and experiences, regardless of the situation’s reality, which can be harmful in the long run.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2009 found that individuals who suppressed their negative emotions had worse mental and physical health outcomes over time than those who expressed them more openly. Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology in 2018 found that women who experienced more pressure to feel positive emotions had higher levels of depression and anxiety symptoms than those who did not experience such pressure.

Research has shown that optimism is associated with various mental and physical health benefits. For example, optimism can help individuals cope more effectively with stress and adversity, improve overall well-being, and promote better physical health markers such as lower blood pressure and a more robust immune system. In addition, practicing mindfulnessgratitude, and visualization can help individuals build confidence and achieve positive outcomes.

A 2020 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that a six-week mindfulness-based intervention led to significant increases in optimism and resilience, as well as reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms, compared to a control group. Moreover, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that a four-week online gratitude intervention led to significant increases in optimism, positive affect, and well-being compared to a control group. Both studies suggest practicing mindfulness and gratitude can help individuals develop a positive outlook…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE