During a gathering of high school friends, conversation came inevitably around to, “Can you believe that guy built a huge accounting empire?” and “How did such a wallflower ever become the President of a corporation?”  It occurred to me that what we were really expressing was our surprise that some of our classmates had found a way to do what psychologists once thought impossible: alter personality traits.

Personality researchers have since discovered that we can change certain traits or qualities that were once thought to be scripted at a very young age. Perhaps the most dynamic success trait which can be developed is called optimism.

While pessimists seem skeptical of everything and expect unfavorable results, optimists seem to suffer less, recover more quickly, and maintain hope even in the face of adversity.  Studies have shown, time and time again, that optimistic people are healthier, have stronger relationships, rate better in employer surveys, and feel more hopeful about life in general. Optimistic people also tend to be more popular and well-liked, and more fun.  Isn’t this what we should all aspire to?

The pessimists in the crowd may be wondering, how exactly does the metamorphosis from pessimism to optimism occur?  Believe me, it doesn’t happen by accident!  There is only one road to optimism, and it’s called practice.


Shifting thought patterns isn’t easy; old habits die hard.  If the sun was to shine a little more brightly in your life, and your circumstances were to shift as you shift your attitude, what would it be worth to you?

If you’re up for a challenge, here an easy-to-follow Roadmap to Optimism:

  1. Surround yourself with other optimists: One of the fastest ways to change your attitude is to borrow one. Find people who have a positive attitude and emulate it.
  2. Don’t just think, act: Be aware that optimism is more than “positive thinking.” It’s a combination of Thought and Action.
  3. Be persistent: When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!  Optimists do not give up.  They learn from mistakes and keep going. They find another way and try it.
  4. Pay attention and keep a record: When good things happen to you, acknowledge them.  A great way to do that is to keep a note on your calendar. You will be surprised how many ‘good’ things happen in a week.
  5. Bad news in small doses: I recommend you choose one news source that gives you the full extent of the coverage that is important to your work, family and community… and leave the rest. Constant review of the same news equates to negative reinforcement! This includes blogs and rumor sessions around the water cooler.
  6. Visualize your perfect outcome: Be clear on what you want and think through what you will need to do to accomplish it; by doing so, you create a map to a more hopeful state of mind.  Picture the scene or outcome in every detail.  See yourself in action, successful performing your task(s).
  7. Reinforce your vision in writing: Describe your perfect outcome in writing along with the steps it will take to get there. The act of writing commits the steps to memory. You may find you move subconsciously in the direction of your thoughts. It is the same premise as a written strategic plan. Put it down, review it regularly and watch it unfold!
  8. Argue with yourself: Ask yourself, “Why not?” And if you are someone who normally thinks everything is a long shot, argue, “Why?” Learn to question why you think the way you do. Many times, our thoughts are mere patterned responses that do not serve us.
  9. Expose yourself to humor: It has been said you can only have one thought or emotion at a time. When we purposefully choose humor and optimism, there is simply less room for pessimistic thoughts.

Remember, thoughts are things… so why not choose the good ones? You may be surprised at the results…

To your success,

Sherry B Jordan