3 Ways Optimism Adds Joy to Life

People who reflexively look at life and see hope and opportunity and beauty and noble motives in good people, who see solutions and possibilities in life are simply better off than those who don’t, who instead see problems and obstacles, reasons to avoid and prevent and resist and disbelieve, who first and foremost see the ugliness in others and in life.

There have been some groundbreaking studies on the subject over the last several years that have shed light on the effect of optimism on people, their environments, marriages, success and elsewhere. Following, is an introduction to some of the findings of the more recent studies, mixed with a few of my own observations:

Three Reasons to Start Flexing Your Optimism Today

1. Practical Optimists Are Happier. There’s just no way around it: people who look at the world, life, and their own role in it with the faith, hope, and confidence of an optimist, are simply going to live a life richer in happiness than those who don’t.

Practical optimists focus on the positive; pessimists focus on the negative. There are predictable results to the two very different ways of perceiving the world. And happiness rests in the balance.

Optimists look for the good in all that surrounds them. Life is sweeter and filled with goodness and beauty, not because optimists ignore the horror, tragedy and heartache, but because they focus on the good. They do what they can to correct the bad, but don’t wallow in the misery that is also so much a part of life.

Unproductive misery is both miserable and unproductive. Optimists are not masochistic. Why suffer needlessly? Rather, optimists optimize the moment. The result? Happy productive action toward a reasonable goal and a more rewarding life of greater happiness.

2. Practical Optimists Are Better Equipped to Deal with Life Tragedies. Practical optimists are confident that opportunity dominates, but are practical in their expectations that trial and tragedy will come. That is, after all, one of the purposes of life, to test us, to challenge us, to help us develop strong spiritual, moral and emotional muscles that have been tested in the field of sorrow.

That expectation, then, helps prepare optimists to endure life’s trials. Besides, optimists are positive thinkers too. So when life breaks down and starts to crumble around them, instead of going into the fetal position, practical optimists are more likely to start asking questions like the following:

“What is life or God or the universe trying to teach me?” “What can I learn from this?” “What does it teach me about me?” “How can I best get through this?” “How can this become a blessing to me or to others?”

Such questions add purpose and meaning to trials. Senseless suffering, after all, is the worst kind. But answers to questions that produce meaningful contexts also provide direction: “I am heading in that direction, through this trial to the other side of greater self-awareness or empathy or emotional maturity!”

3. Practical Optimists Are More Liked and Respected. People who whine and complain and moan and groan are just no fun to be around for very long. Many of them can be handled in short spurts. There are people like this in my own life who I love and care for deeply.

But an endless string of complaints can begin to grate on the nerves.

Practical optimists – as long as they aren’t the annoying in-your-face types – are much more uplifting. Not only dot hey see the best in life and in negative circumstances, but they see the best in us and in the motives behind the goofy things we so often do as imperfect beings.

And who doesn’t need more of such people in their lives?


Practical optimists excel in life. Their daily experiences include obstacles to happiness and success, for sure. But while a pessimist’s gaze never wanders far from the obstacle itself, a practical optimist sees the whole picture, but focuses on a point far past the obstacle, envisioning the solution to the problem and the life that will be lived once the obstacle is surmounted.

And then the optimist begins climbing and growing, motivated by the possible, moving toward a better self and a better life.

And that, to me, is a happy life.

Return tomorrow for 3 more concrete ways practical optimism will improve your life!

Please comment to let me know what you think. Do you know optimists or pessimists? What has been your own experience with optimism or pessimism?

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