Did you know only 25% of optimism is inherited? Top 5 tips to become more ‘glass half full’ from the Optimism Doctor herself

July 27, 2021

Hate to break it to you, but from an evolutionary standpoint, we’re all prone to be pessimists. Back in the day, our ancestors who predicted worst-case scenarios were the ones who survived. In modern life though, constantly imagining doom and gloom doesn’t exactly lead to happiness. But only 25% of optimism is inherited, so that means even if you think you’re a born pessimist, you can learn how to reverse it. 

Mentally, when you’re in a good mood, your brain kicks into high-functioning gear and you’re better positioned to come up with solutions to everyday situations. You’ll be more productive and have a better shot at achieving goals. 

Physically, studies have shown that optimistic people live longer, get sick less often, have better cardio health, fewer respiratory issues, bounce back from sickness sooner, experience less pain, and enjoy healthy social and intimate relationships. 

Ready to get your positivity practice on? Here are my top 5 ways to increase optimism levels, even for the most pessimistic out there.

Happiness is contagious, so surround yourself with joyful people.

In fact, happiness spreads to 3 degrees of separation in a friend group. In other words, when you feel happy, your friend’s friend’s friend has a higher likelihood of feeling that joy. Think about your core group of pals and figure out how many people around you are truly happy or exemplify optimism, then spend more time with them. On the flip side, give yourself permission to spend less time with people you don’t think spread joy.

Change your perspective.

A simple shift can make a huge difference. At the beginning of the pandemic, I kept saying I was “stuck at home.” The word “stuck” made me feel claustrophobic, so I shifted my phrasing to say “safe at home.” My situation didn’t change, but that one word swap reminded me how lucky and privileged I was to actually be safe at home.

Challenge yourself to find any upside in a tough situation, no matter how small.

You may not know how you’ll get through tough times, but the key is to be curious and open and gather the strength to say, “I wonder how I’ll grow from this.” And this is the important part: The goal is not to love your situation—it’s to see that it exists and recognize it sucks, but know that you’ll grow from it.

Spend time outdoors.

Research shows that spending 2 hours on average outdoors every week increases positive mood and decreases stress and cortisol levels.

Focus on things you’re proud of.

Self-gratitude is one of the most potent forms of overall gratitude, so celebrate your wins. They don’t have to be huge—in fact the smaller the better. The result is that you’re more likely to focus on achieving future goals because you’re feeding your self-esteem. Keep a list of your successes so you can remind yourself what you achieved and how hard you worked to get there.

About the Author

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Deepika Chopra, known as the Optimism Doctor®, specializes in bridging holistic practices and evidence-based science to cultivate self-mastery tools to help develop a sense of lasting happiness, resiliency, optimism and success. She practices from a unique perspective with the ability to speak to the popular wellness trends of today, while providing real evidence-based science and experience. Dr. Chopra holds a doctorate in clinical health psychology, and her work has been featured in Forbes, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Goop, Variety, E!, NBC and more.