How To Be More Optimistic In 8 Steps

I wish I were more of a glass-half-full person. I really do. I don’t consider myself a pessimist, per se, but I'm more of a "realist" by nature. I can’t help but envy my most optimistic friends, though. You know who they are — they’re the ones who get stuff done, no matter what, all while exuding grace and confidence. It’s an admirable and totally magnetic quality.

There are many reasons to try to look on the bright side of things besides the most obvious: a general feeling of happiness and contentment. Optimism boosts your overall mental and physical well-being, too. Research shows that optimistic people are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease or have a stroke, and they also benefit from increased life expectancy. In short, optimism benefits you from the inside out, and it’s a way of life worth imitating.

Admittedly, it’s not easy to flip a switch if you’re more inclined to negative thinking. So let’s put our powers of observation to good use and figure out what exactly our friends up there on Cloud Nine do to stay there.

BIC Soleil conducted a survey of 1,000 women between the ages of 18 and 34 on what makes a good day versus a bad day, to encourage women everywhere to be more comfortable and optimistic in their own skin. We took a look at the results and found that the habits of optimistic people strongly align with the actions that make all of us happier — and it's not all about visualizing unicorns and rainbows (although there's nothing wrong with that). Here's a roundup of some of BIC Soleil's "Real Life Optimism" survey findings about the most positive-thinking people among us.

They Value Time With Friends & Family

Spending time with other people just feels so much better than swiping your smartphone screen or credit cards. After a particularly trying day, I always find that the calming effects of a phone call with a supportive friend far outlast any brief happiness I feel after buying a new shirt I don’t need.

Having strong friendships also increases your sense of belonging and purpose and gives you a sense of hope for the future. BIC Soleil’s survey showed that for a boost of happiness, millennial women far prefer to spend time with friends and family (35 percent) over shopping (18 percent) or browsing social media (13 percent). The true optimist actually puts this into practice, making quality time with loved ones a priority in her life.

They Take Time For Self-Care

I'm not just talking about being optimistic that the pricey face mask you bought is going to completely transform your complexion (and life) for the better. A good mood can sometimes come from the outside in so, in general, taking time for a self-care ritual in the morning is important. Nearly a third of women surveyed by BIC Soleil said that a close shave makes them feel more optimistic about the day ahead of them. If you think about it, rolling out of bed late without taking quality time for yourself pretty much epitomizes pessimism and says, "Ugh, let's just get this over with."

Though most of the other items on this list have to do with your relationships with others, it cannot be stated enough that putting yourself first is essential to an optimistic foundation.

They Find Joy In The Little Things

Contrary to what you might think, the optimist isn't just looking at the horizon for what comes next — the next fabulous party, the next big promotion, the next exotic trip. Getting excited about big milestones is key, but finding joy in the simple things you can experience right now is just as important.

In fact, 77.7 percent of women in the "Real Life Optimism" survey prefer little moments of happiness sprinkled throughout a given day compared to one thing to look forward to at the end of the week. The optimist knows to savor the basic, immediate pleasures in life that are easy to take for granted, like a perfect cup of coffee or a bit of head-clearing meditation.

They Take Breaks From Technology

The more time you spend on Instagram and Facebook, the more likely you are to believe that everyone else’s life is all sunshine, picturesque plates of food, job offers, and engagement photoshoots. That's so not true. Never forget that social media is just a highlight reel. By taking breaks from it, you're more grounded in the present and less likely to engage in those terrible, self-shaming spirals of comparison.

The physical devices themselves aren’t great, either. Many studies have shown that the blue light emitted by your devices (smart phones, TVs, etc.) messes with your REM cycle by affecting melatonin levels, consequently throwing off your circadian rhythm. Speaking strictly from personal experience, I, for one, can attest that better sleep equals a happier me.

They’re Genuinely Interested In Others

Taking breaks from technology also helps one to connect with others in a real way, which you know if you've ever tried to hold a conversation with someone who’s too busy scrolling through her Twitter feed. And you're not alone — 67 percent of the women surveyed agree that people are not as "present" as they should be in social situations, and 54 percent feel better when they take a break from their devices.

In turn, IRL social connectedness has its own benefits, such as lower risk of anxiety and depression. The optimist loves getting face time with and learning about other people. There are benefits to this behavior when dealing with hard times especially, such as bad breakups or illness. David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism, told Fast Company that when people share stories of perseverance with others going through something similar, it fosters a sense of hope. The optimist can rest assured knowing she is never really alone in the world.

They Know How To Balance Work & Play

Of the women BIC surveyed, an impressive 83 percent said that happiness is more important to them than money. Striking a balance between work and fun is key to being a well-rounded person, as is the understanding that it's more important to work smart than hard. A healthy work-life balance is fundamental to the optimist's life, as things like social relationships and self-care hold equal importance to her as work. The optimist knows how to unwind in and out of the office.

They Attract Even More Optimism

Forty-eight percent of the women surveyed strongly agreed that they are happier when around optimistic people. And why not? Good moods are contagious, as are bad ones. Without really even trying, positive people find themselves surrounded by like-minded people, breeding more positivity into their life. Those healthy, supportive relationships will help them to flourish. It's like a positive feedback loop of good vibes.

They Smile!

A real optimist knows she has a lot to be grateful for, and she lets that show on the outside. It doesn't hurt that the perpetuating effects of smiling are proven. The muscles in your face trigger the release of endorphins and in turn, make you feel happier and less stressed. That alone is something to smile about.

Images: Fotolia (5); Andrew Zaeh for Bustle (4)

This article is sponsored by BIC Soleil Shine razors, giving you a new way to Make Your Own Sun® and to find the bright side in any situation.