Successful Optimism


The way to success is often messy. We need determination and optimism to keep us going.
—Jean Browman

The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.
—William James, 1842-1910

Which attitude gives us the best chance of success in life?

  1. Always think positive thoughts and the universe will reward us.
  2. It doesn’t matter what we do, things will turn out badly.
  3. Things won’t always go the way we want…challenges are bound to come up, but we can handle them.

Not too surprisingly, the answer is #3. In spite of all the talk these days about the law of attraction, studies show that successful optimists don’t expect life to always go smoothly. They know bad things sometimes happen, but they think of themselves as problem solvers. They tend to work longer hours each week, save more, expect to retire later in life, eat healthier food, get more exercise, and are less likely to smoke. They have a long-term view of life and believe in enjoying the journey. It’s no surprise, then, that they tend to be healthier and live longer…as well as have more fun.

What can we do to be successful optimists? My approach is to eat a healthy diet, get a reasonable amount of exercise, and keep working on developing the traits of stress-hardiness. What about you? What’s your approach?

This site is about sharing, so please tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo by ZMB via Flickr. Creative Commons license.

Related posts:
What I Learned From Being Downsized
Celebrating Life

Thanks to everyone who commented last week: Joanna, Alex, Brad, Galba, and bikehikebabe.

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7 Responses to Successful Optimism

  1. Hello Jean.

    While I agree that 3 is the most powerful of the options, I think the relationship between 1 and 3 is a little complicated.

    A person can be a positive thinker without practicing, or even being aware of the Law of Attraction.

    Many positive thinkers use that thought process to triumph over adversity.

    Many positive thinkers are optimists.

    I think the key to your point lies in your quote, where you link optimism and determination together. As the Bible (James 2:16 NIV) says:

    “faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead” Thanks, also, for the link :)

  2. Jean says:

    😉 Thanks for pointing out I wasn’t clear on Option 3. Successful optimists are positive thinkers…they expect their efforts will, on the whole, result in good results. I should have made that more clear. You and I are both successful optimists, I’m sure…we believe it takes right action as well as faith.

  3. Jean says:

    I’ve added Celebrating Life as another related post. It’s about Dr. Randy Pausch, who exemplifies successful optimism.

  4. bikehikebabe says:

    I used to think of 5 things that were wrong in my life before I got out of bed in the morning. The idea was to “fix” them. Some of them were unfixable. (Here’s where Monkey Trap knowledge comes in handy.) Now I think of 5 wonderful things in my life.

  5. bikehikebabe says:

    I listened to Randy Pausch’s last lecture. (Not all YET) It downloads broken up at first, but by the time Randy comes on, it’s steady. Click on it and do something else for 15 min. before you watch. You won’t regret it!!!

  6. ml says:

    Hi Jean,

    I looked around your blog a bit and enjoyed it very much. I especially like your earlier entries, but it seems like you’ve found your niche in the world since 2007. You seem like an attractive, interesting and fun person, and I love your dogs.

    Thanks for the refections on stress resilience. It’s just what I needed right now.

    Best, ML

  7. Jean says:

    Thanks for coming by! Glad the reflections helped some.

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