An optimist is someone who always looks on the bright side of things even in the face of challenging situations.
Optimism can be helpful in many ways and these 15 traits will show you what it means to be an optimistic person. It might even help you feel a bit more optimistic yourself!
1. They show compassion to themselves
When we reflect on our past mistakes, we have the tendency to judge ourselves; to call ourselves out. “Oh, I was so stupid! How could I have done that?”
While it’s normal to admit moments when you weren’t acting your best, it’s still important to show yourself the compassion that you deserve, before you can express authentic compassion to others.
Being optimistic means taking care of yourself — all parts of yourself.
You liberate yourself from the pain of your past so that you can return to the present moment, where you are in total control of your next action.
2. They accept what’s out of their control
No matter how hard you work to impress other people, ultimately, you can’t dictate what they think about you.
This is a limitation that optimistic people accept. They admit that some things are out of their hands.
Instead of spending your energy trying to impose your will on things that will not change, it’s better to redirect it towards supporting your own actions.
Being optimistic means that you are willing to put yourself out there — your work, actions, words — and allow people to make do with it however they wish. It’s out of your control now.
3. They like to try new things
There’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that goes “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.”
Becoming a beginner again can feel embarrassing; when you’re putting the training wheels on your bike; or asking someone to hold your hand so you don’t slip and fall on the ice-skating rink.
We fabricate the weight of all the glares we believe we’re receiving.
The fact is that no one is tossing and turning at night thinking about how bad your form is — they’re too busy tossing and turning about theirs.
Or better yet, they completely forgot about you when they left.
Optimistic people open themselves up to trying new things out of their own curiosity and enjoyment.
They face the “crowds” and focus on giving their best shot. They’re happy to fail and pick themselves back up again. They’re still learning, after all.
4. They believe in themselves
When we get knocked down, getting back up can be difficult.
There’s that negative self-talk that goes “You failed because you aren’t good enough.”
And maybe that voice is right. There’s a reason why you failed. But what matters is how you respond to it.
Optimistic people can admit defeat. They’re willing to accept that maybe they don’t have the skills needed to accomplish certain skills. But they don’t let themselves feel down because of it.
They can always choose to improve their skills or learn new techniques. They could also accept their previous actions and learn from it.
Or they can accept that maybe some things aren’t for them. Whatever their choice, they always believe that they can get back up.
5. They live in the moment
No matter how much we worry, the future is still going to come.
The past is also a common pain point among people.
They wish for things to be different: that they made a better choice or said something nicer.
Wallowing in these emotions only causes unnecessary emotional and mental pain.
No one can go back in time, nor can anyone predict the future.
By appreciating what they have and the people that they get to meet, an optimistic person is able to return to the moment.
It was Annie Dillard that wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”.
By returning to the moment, an optimistic person is able to take back the wheel of their lives.
While they can also go with the flow, they are also intentional in their next actions.
6. They don’t worry about the future
Basketball All-star Michael Jordan once said, “Why would I worry about a shot that I haven’t taken yet?”
It’s that focus on the present moment, on the feel of the ball in his hands, and the play of the game that has allowed him and the Chicago Bulls to be deemed the greatest icons of basketball in his time.
An optimistic person doesn’t burn their energy in worry and distress about what might happen next.
After putting in all the effort that they can on a project, they understand that what happens next is out of their control.
Whether it’s evaluated as good, bad, value-adding, or a complete waste, doesn’t matter to them — all they know is that they did what they could at the moment.
7. They treat problems as opportunities
Let’s face it: there are more setbacks in life than successes. It’s certainly disheartening to keep pushing forward when it seems like all else is proving you wrong.
But optimistic know that when you’re entrenched in problems, the only way to go is up.
When you’re encountering difficulty, they focus on finding ways to solve it in order to become a strong person.
As you become better at solving problems, you gain confidence in yourself and your skills, and eventually, become better at finding more solutions.
8. They treat fear as a catalyst
As goal pursuers, it’s inevitable for us to hear a negative voice that makes us second-guess everything we do.
Rather than retreating to a far corner because of fear, optimistic people use it to prove themselves wrong.
They know that the key is making sure that you move past your fear and use it as motivation.
The more you succumb to this fear, the harder it is to ignore feelings of self-doubt.
On the other hand, actively fighting these will give you better self-confidence and teach you to ignore these negative feelings.
9. They’re kind and understanding of others
There are going to be times when other people are simply mean to us.
They cut us off on the road, cut in line for the printer, or be plain rude in conversation.
It’s easy to furrow our brows in anger at these things and let it taint our entire days — but that isn’t what a calm person would do.
An optimistic person would be more understanding of others.
They are patient and keep their cool. These things are not worth getting worked up over, in the bigger picture of things.
10. They don’t put down other people
In general, the people who like to gossip and talk badly about others are doing so because they want to feel better about themselves.
But a truly optimistic person doesn’t compare themselves with others, so talking bad about others doesn’t feel good at all.
They don’t feel the need to gossip about others because they’re focused on becoming a better version of themselves.
11. They Can Laugh At Themselves
We all make mistakes.
There’s bound to have been a time when you were halfway towards your destination when you remembered that something was left at home.
In those moments, we could feel a number of emotions — anger, frustration, disappointment.
But what if instead of punishing ourselves for it, we laugh it off?
That’s what optimistic people do. They don’t take themselves and their life too seriously.
There’s always a space to laugh at our mistakes, take it in our stride, learn, and move on.
There’s no need to get frustrated at things that have already happened.
We’re naturally drawn to people who don’t take themselves too seriously.
It shows a humble heart and a positive spirit, which can both be contagious.
12. They are thoughtful of others
Optimistic people don’t forget about other people.
Lunchtime at the office can be much like how it was in school; we ask around to see who’s available to eat with and where everyone wants to go.
Groups will invariably form and everyone goes their separate ways for an hour.
There’s always going to be that one person that pulls out their packed lunch and eats at their desk alone.
While others might ignore them, an optimistic person might invite that person out to join the lunch.
After all, they don’t judge others and see everyone in a positive light.
An optimistic personality is a welcoming personality.
13. They’re approachable
Optimistic people have nothing to prove; they’re at peace with themselves.
They’re present in the moment, even and especially when they’re in a conversation.
They are engaged and welcoming of other people, always generous, and willing to help solve others’ problems.
In group conversations, it’s easy for someone to have difficulty getting a word in.
Optimistic people make sure that all voices are heard, that everyone is part of the conversation.
This helps spread and promote the positivity that they have within themselves.
14. They understand that there is always going to be challenges
Injuries, sudden deadlines, increases in rent, loss of money.
There are going to be moments in our lives that we won’t anticipate.
It’s easy to get angry at the world for these inconveniences.
But someone with an optimistic personality is more understanding.
They view these not as obstacles in their path but challenges to overcome.
They’re the glass-half-full type of people, but they try to still keep their feet on the ground.
They still have to work their way through the mountains of stress that everyday life can hurl at us — they just perceive it differently.
15. They are patient and forgiving
We are bound to meet people that will test our patience.
While it can be tempting to throw our keyboards at clients that still aren’t understanding projects after the 5th clarifying email, there are some that can hold themselves back.
They’re patient and understand that allowing themselves to be overcome with emotion might not be the best course of action.
These people aren’t an enlightened few.
They still feel those feelings — they just act despite them. Instead, they empathize with others to try to work something out together.
Then, when things are cleared up, they don’t hold any grudges. They forgive and forget.
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