Can a Pessimist Become an Optimist?

While some individuals are born with sunny dispositions, others are more prone to negative outlooks. Many factors come into play:

  • Childhood experiences
  • Temperament
  • Environment
  • Economic status
  • Genetic predisposition

While these are all valid reasons as to why one person might be more positive and optimistic than another, there is one factor which may have the power to transform those reasons – the power of choice.

Optimism as a Choice

Given a set of negative circumstances, some with a negative mindset might view this as an all or nothing, catastrophic event. However, those individuals with a positive, optimistic mindset might feel the impact of the negative circumstance, evaluate their choices, and then go on to make the best decision in their control. Those with positive mindsets of optimism are more apt to also choose a more constructive and useful attitude.

While we may not be able to change our circumstances, we can change our reaction and attitude toward those very same circumstances.

How a Pessimist can become More Optimistic

Brain Training

While changing any part of our personality is never an easy task, it is doable. An individual must want it though. Chances are, telling a pessimist he/she can change their outlook and change their life will most likely be met with some cynicism. After all, it’s a pessimist we are talking about; however, if someone makes the decision on their own – say perhaps seeking to find his/her purpose in life or finding more joy – there is certainly more of a chance of success.

Through practice and some brain training techniques, a pessimist can most certainly become more optimistic.


What a person focuses on expands. Constantly focusing on what is wrong and what does not work is a surefire way to get more of the same; situations where just about everything can and does go wrong. There are plenty of positive circumstances in life to focus on:

  • What does go right in your life?
  • Counting your blessings
  • What do you have to be grateful for?
  • What does work?


When faced with adversity, is there some semblance of a silver lining within that circumstance? Can a pessimist view an ending as a beginning or as a lesson learned? Can a pessimist find the deeper meaning instead of looking through a negative lens?


While an optimist views the proverbial glass as “half-full” and a pessimist views the glass “half-empty,” what if a pessimist did not internalize circumstances as personal to themselves? In other words, what if something happened simply because it happened and not because the pessimist has “bad luck?” Moving away from the woe-is-me way of thinking opens the door to a broader view and removes the unfortunate situation as having any meaning to the pessimist themselves.


Another way a pessimist can move away from negative thinking is to tell themselves and others different stories. Instead of seeing only the story surrounding the circumstance as all black (for example, a pessimist might say they have no luck, everything always happens to them, everybody else gets to get what they want), a pessimist can opt to see it in black and white. Something happened because something happened – no story attached.

Changing the focus and perception along with not internalizing and telling a new story, a pessimist is able to see the glass as half-full and have a life full of optimistic results.


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