A lot聽of people pride themselves on being optimists, and TBH, if you can stay positive聽with everything that鈥檚 going on in the world today, major props to you. For most people who consider themselves the glass-half-full type, it鈥檚 a lifestyle. They try to look at everything that comes their way, from relationship troubles to work mistakes, with a positive spin. But a recent study聽investigated whether optimists still聽stay more positive than pessimists when things get really tough, and what they found was pretty surprising.

smiling positive happy radiant black woman

Scientists analyzed nine previous studies to see how both optimists and pessimists brace themselves for receiving important and potentially negative news, like medical test results. They found that even though people who identify as optimists tend to be more positive in general, they too start assuming the worst as the moment of truth about something important nears.聽It鈥檚 easy to understand this instinct, since some people tend to believe that preparing yourself for the worst will ultimately make it less shocking if it happens. On the other hand, some people would rather stay positive whenever possible, since it鈥檚 easier to fight off stress and anxiety when you have聽a sunny聽outlook. Here, we鈥檝e gathered some of our favorite expert tips for staying optimistic when you鈥檙e dealing with some super hard stuff.

Smiling woman enjoying coffee


1. Learn to reframe negativity. 鈥淭he trick to positivity is not avoiding pessimism,鈥 says Elaine Taylor-Klaus, a certified professional coach. 鈥淚t鈥檚 really about how quickly you can redirect your focus from negative to positive. Critical thinkers are going to see problems to be solved, but the ability to 鈥榬eframe鈥 the conversation is the really important skill for people to practice.鈥 She recommends getting into the habit of acknowledging negative thoughts and then asking, 鈥淲hat else is possible here?鈥 This can guide you back into a positive mindset more quickly.

鈥淏ottom line: Negativity happens,鈥 she says. 鈥淧ositivity is a choice, and the quicker you learn to reframe, the more time you鈥檒l spend in a positive space. Then, over time, the more likely you are to turn directly to a positive interpretation of events.鈥

2. Ask yourself if this will matter a month or year from now. Sometimes things seem crucial AF聽in the moment, but might be inconsequential even just a few days after that. Just think about high school drama. 鈥淲hen we can leave the past behind and even know in the present moment that this feeling won鈥檛 last, it can help to remind us that time heals and life goes on,鈥 explains Sharon Stokes, life-fulfillment coach.

Smiling volunteers lifting construction frame

3. Give back. Volunteering is an amazing way to change your entire perspective, says Lyssa Menard, a clinical health psychologist, founder of Strategies for Change聽and assistant professor at Northwestern University鈥檚 medical school. 鈥淭here are many organizations that don鈥檛 require an ongoing commitment, so sign up for an event that鈥檚聽meaningful. Research shows that giving to others is one of the quickest routes toward happiness. While happiness and positivity are different, they鈥檙e correlated,鈥 Lyssa says.

4. Role play to be more objective.聽Playing a little mind trick on yourself can work wonders, says Lori Scherwin of Strategize That, a career coaching service. 鈥淲e鈥檙e often better at helping others than ourselves,鈥 she notes. 鈥淢ake the situation more objective and less personal to聽you. For example, consider if it were anyone else in the situation (like your best friend, partner or colleague). How would you see the same 鈥榩roblem?鈥 What advice might you give them to get out of it?鈥 she asks. This will help you shift from being super hard on yourself to more objective, and most likely, more positive.

Smiling architect using digital tablet career work office

5. Make changes to things that are聽within your control. Spending time worrying about something that you can鈥檛 change isn鈥檛 really worth the effort. Instead, 鈥淔ocus on areas where you have agency,鈥 suggests Holly Burton, a career coach for women in male-dominated industries. 鈥淵ou may be stuck in a role you don鈥檛 love at work, but you could probably work a few extra hours a week and take on a project that interests you. You could also schedule some proactive meetings with your boss to make an action plan to develop the skills you need to make a lateral move,鈥 she says. In most situations, whether they鈥檙e career-related or not, it鈥檚 possible to take actions to make things better for yourself.

6. Practice radical acceptance.Jasmine Powers, business and goal coach, suggests trying out the idea of radical acceptance, which is basically accepting the things you cannot change, even if they鈥檙e not right or you don鈥檛 agree with them. She explains: 鈥淚f you鈥檙e looking to buy a white sedan, you start to notice all the white sedans on the road because your mind is focused on that. In the same way, we often affect our experience because of focusing on good or bad. By working to be mindful of positive things and being extremely grateful for even seemingly insignificant things, we鈥檒l notice even more things to be grateful for.鈥 Another mind trick for the win!

7. Try this gratitude聽challenge. Adwoa Dadzie, a career strategist and HR executive, has a seven-day happiness challenge that鈥檚 definitely worth a try. First, journal about one聽event each day for seven days that made you feel happy and/or thankful and include the specifics of why it made you feel that way, going deep into the details. Second, send one random thank you email or text to someone each day, either personally or professionally. This message should include what they did and why it鈥檚 worthy of the shout out. Detailed gratitude journals are proven to improve your life satisfaction, so try to stick to聽a gratitude practice, even in the good times!

What do you do when you鈥檙e trying to stay optimistic? Have you tried any of these techniques? Tell us about it @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)