Home » Blogs » Leveraging Adversity » Three Ways to Teach Yourself to Think More Optimistically

Three Ways to Teach Yourself to Think More Optimistically

optimism photo


Thinking optimistically isn’t simply about seeing the glass half-full. Instead, it’s a systematic way of using your thinking to shift not just the way you feel, but how you respond to what life faces you with. Those who are optimistic may be more aware of the positives, but they also look for opportunities in the challenge – which sometimes turn out to be positives. They choose flexible thinking – the kind that sees things from multiple perspectives – over rigidity, not only because it produces better results, but because it consistently makes them feel better. And they don’t settle – instead of expecting more from those around them, they expect more from themselves.


Here are three ways to teach yourself to think more optimistically:


Look for the hidden opportunities in setbacks

Setbacks can often feel like there is nothing positive to be gained. However, setbacks, like any adversity we face, presents a set of circumstances that demands our skills. And this is the opportunity that setbacks offer: to learn new skills, and refine existing ones. When you can teach yourself reframe setbacks in this way and look not to what is difficult, but what must be learned, you take a powerful step toward thinking more optimistically.


Use Paradoxical Thinking

Paradoxical thinking is about seeing everything in life as a paradox – with both good and bad qualities. While in love there is joy, there is also loss, and while with success, there is also struggle. Using paradoxical thinking not only helps us see life in a more balanced way, but find creative solutions that we would have otherwise overlooked. Teaching yourself to use paradoxical thinking helps you see things from multiple perspectives – a critical part of thinking optimistically.


Identify Strengths

Facing challenges gets a whole lot easier when you know what your strengths are and how they can be used. By asking yourself what your strengths are, and how you use them, you not only boost your confidence immediately (speaking about strengths as oppose to weaknesses has a lasting positive effect on mood), but you see that these strengths can be used effectively to face the many challenges life brings.



Claire Dorotik-Nana is the author Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards. For more information on Claire or her work visit

Photo by Camdiluv ♥

Three Ways to Teach Yourself to Think More Optimistically

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2015). Three Ways to Teach Yourself to Think More Optimistically. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Sep 2015
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.