This One Hack To Make Yourself An Optimist Is Easier Than You Think

If it's not your inclination to view the glass half full, fear not: change is possible. When it comes to how to be more optimistic, it's largely a matter of doing one little thing differently (from there, everything else unfolds). “Research shows that change is possible, even if you’ve had the same mindset since you were 10 years old,” said happiness researcher Shawn Achor, head of GoodThink and author of The Happiness Advantage , to mental_floss. “When it comes to things like pessimism, genes may play a role, but they’re not the end of the story.”

As it turns out, gratitude is the most fundamental way to change your outlook. Though we hear that word tossed around a lot (a lot, a lot) people who practice it regularly will understand why it's so crucial. When you shift your focus from what you want to what you have, from what you want to change to what you already appreciate, your whole life begins to change, simply because you're training yourself to seek the good in everything.

As for other benefits? Achor's research shows that people with a more positive mindset are 40 percent more likely to get a promotion and report being more creative and productive: “Most people think happiness follows success, when really investing in your happiness now might be what helps you get there.”

If you're not sure where to begin, Achor says that you should "try to think of three new things you're happy about while brushing your teeth at night." The key here, he notes, is that it must be new. As in, you must think of different things each time. If you keep defaulting to "friends, family and health," you're not going to really have an emotional response to it and it won't actually work. Your list needs to be things that inspire you in that moment, that are new and somehow emotionally linked to whatever you're going through at the moment. If you want, you can start taking mental (or physical!) notes throughout the day so you're never at a loss.

Why does this work? Because the difference between a pessimist and an optimist is whether or not you scan your days for things to be happy about, or not. When Achor and his team asked a group of pessimists to try this habit for 21 days, they found that most people had shifted to being more optimistic. “You can do this with 4-year-old kids or 84-year-old adults,” says Achor. “Even a one-minute happiness habit can begin to affect the other 24 hours in your day.”

So there you have it: if you want to be happier, look for things to be happy for each and every day. That's all it really takes.

Images: Giphy (1); Unsplash