How to Stop Being Pessimistic

Are you pessimistic by nature? Do you see the negative in every situation and have trouble finding the silver lining? If so, it might be time to make some changes.

Many people find it difficult to be optimistic, especially when things go wrong. But there are steps to start seeing the glass as half full.

According to experts, here are ways to break out of your pessimistic thinking habits and start seeing the world in a more positive light:

Stephanie E. Wilson-Coleman, Ph.D.

Stephanie Wilson-Coleman

Founder and CEO, The Champagne Connection | Author, “Creating a Masterpiece from a Master Mess

The techniques listed below will help you find more joy in your life. According to scientists, you might live up to 15 years longer and have fewer health complaints. It’s worth considering. 

Remember the good things you experienced to increase your happiness factor

Daily, talk about or write about one thing that went well or made you smile. There is no requirement that you must enjoy every moment of the day; however, at the end of each day, remembering the good things you experienced will increase your happiness factor.

Create a list of things you can brag about

Create a list of things you have accomplished that you can brag about. Keep this list readily available and review it frequently.

Your “brag list” will remind you that you have already conquered many storms, so know that you are amazing.

Use the lessons learned and the ideas gained to help you change how you think

Each experience brings with it many lessons and blessings. List the lessons learned the insights gained. 

If you cannot change the situation, use the lessons learned and the ideas gained to help you change how you think about it. Asking yourself how you can grow from this experience will help you embrace challenges while creating a growth mindset.

Express your gratitude to people who help make your life easier

List 1-5 people who help make your life a little easier and happier. Send a thank-you note, email, or even make a phone call. 

Some scientists say that expressing gratitude is “magical” and helps to increase our happiness and self-worth. It also helps to increase the happiness and self-worth of those you thank.

Silence your inner critic

Stop comparing yourself to others. Look inward and not outward. Make sure you are the “main thing” in your life.

Remind yourself daily, hourly if needed, that:

  • You are worthy
  • You are powerful
  • You are creative and 
  • You can handle it

Keep your focus on what’s “right” with you.

Nature did not create any perfect organism; it created organisms perfectly. It’s time to remember that life can be a bumpy road, but Winston Churchill reminds us, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” 

John F. Tholen, PhD

John F. Tholen

Retired Psychologist | Author, “Focused Positivity: The Path to Success and Peace of Mind

Shift your attention to reasonable alternative ideas that will inspire constructive action

Pessimism is a psychological defense mechanism. A negative perspective is self-protective

When we expect the worst, we are almost never disappointed. Either our expectation is fulfilled, or we are pleasantly surprised at a better outcome. And we can be pleased even if the result is less than the best possible. 

Furthermore, if we expect a poor outcome, we are less likely to risk an effort that might not succeed, protecting us from feeling (or being seen as) a “failure.”

The problem with being a pessimist is that focusing on a poor outcome spoils our mood and robs us of the hope and motivation necessary to fully pursue our goals. 

Although it may be impossible to persuade a pessimist to change, when that decision is made, the best course to follow is focused positivity strategy.

Although it seems that our emotions and motivations result directly from the events and circumstances we encounter, they are instead reactions to our self-talk— the internal monologue that streams through our waking consciousness, interpreting whatever we experience and establishing our perspective

Thoughts that automatically come into our minds are determined by a complex interaction between our inherited traits and our early life experience. Neither of which is under our control. 

When that interplay has left us cynical about life or excessively self-critical, our spontaneous thoughts are often pessimistic and dysfunctional—causing distress without inspiring constructive action. 

When such thoughts linger in the spotlight of our attention and infuse our self-talk, our self-assertion becomes inhibited. Thus, our peace of mind is disrupted even though these ideas are almost always incomplete, unreasonable, or completely wrong. 

We can become less of a pessimist and improve our outcomes and state of mind—by identifying and shifting our attention to reasonable alternative ideas that are more likely to inspire constructive action or hope. 

This is focused positivity strategy:

  1. Becoming mindful of our thoughts by recording and examining the ideas that occupy our minds when we are upset,
  2. Identifying the dysfunctional thoughts that have become the focus of our attention and are spoiling our experience,
  3. Constructing more reasonable, balanced, and functional alternatives
  4. Systematically refocusing our attention away from the dysfunctional thoughts and toward the functional alternatives.

Cognitive Therapy (CT) is the only psychological treatment approach that can be considered “evidence-based.” 

A review of 325 different research studies involving more than 9000 subjects found CT to be effective in treating depression (adult and adolescent), anxiety disorder, and social phobia (David, D., et al., “Why Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy Is the Gold Standard of Psychotherapy,” Frontiers of Psychiatry, 01-29-2018). 

CT works because it is the most efficient method of challenging our dysfunctional thoughts, and the most efficient form of CT is focused positivity strategy.

We respond best to any challenge in life by employing the closest thing we have to, a “superpower”, our ability at any moment to shift the focus of our attention to a more functional thought, such as: 

  • Anyone who isn’t failing now and then isn’t experimenting enough.
  • There are no failures, only discoveries.
  • Whatever the outcome of my efforts, I’ll know that I tried, and I’ll find some way to survive and carry on.
  • “Failure” would only mean I’m reaching to fulfill my goals.
  • No reasonable person would think less of me for striving to attain my dreams
  • Life is hard, and mistakes are inevitable. I deserve credit for a reasonable attempt.
  • Success or failure is less important than “sincere, positive effort,” as only the latter is under my control.
  • My best efforts will sometimes turn out poorly because life is unpredictable, and I’m only human.
  • The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice (MLK).

Juan Santos M.S., CRC, LCMHC

Juan Santos

Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor | Owner, Santos Counseling PLLC

A person can typically engage in two types of mindsets. One is optimistic, and the other is pessimistic. Optimistic thinking occurs when a person engages in thoughts that focus on the positives. 

Meanwhile, pessimistic thinking takes place when a person engages in negative related thoughts, such as seeing the worst in others and themselves, and anticipating that things will go wrong.

Consistency and discipline is required

Know that there is a way to shift from a pessimistic to an optimistic mindset. Before you dive into the reading, please know that work is required to make this mindset shift. The work required is that of consistency and discipline.

Related: Why Is Self Discipline Important?

Try to be consistent with the exercises listed below. In addition, give yourself structure so that you have the discipline to maintain consistency. 

Structure time to practice optimistic thinking

You have probably heard of affirmations. If not, an affirmation is a set of words that you use to create a positive mindset. It is a practice of self-love.

To stop being pessimistic, you can utilize affirmations in a structured way. Start each day by giving yourself 3 minutes to write down positive affirmations that directly shift you from a pessimistic to optimistic mindset. 

Below are examples to practice:

  • I am excited about today.
  • Today is going to be a great day.
  • I know that wonderful things are coming my way.
  • I choose to see the best in others.
  • I choose to believe that things will work out.

Create a support system that focuses on cultivating an optimistic mindset

Having a support system is hands down one of the most common therapeutic strategies provided to persons seeking mental health support.

To stop being pessimistic, you can create a circle of peers that hold the same goal. Treat this circle of peers like an organization you have to meet with on a structured schedule. Try to meet with the group one to two times a month.

Create venues to stop being pessimistic and start growing in the area of optimism. Ways to do this include:

  • Each person provides an optimistic statement to the other.
  • Praise each other for optimistic moments.
  • Play the what-if scenario as a group. Start by creating a what-if scenario that would typically cause you to engage in pessimistic thinking. The goal is to play the game by having everyone in the group come up with ways to be optimistic.

As you continue to move forward in addressing pessimistic thinking, please keep in mind the importance of consistency and discipline. 

Dr. Carrie Lam, MD, FAAMFM, ABAARM

Carrie Lam

Medical Doctor, Dr. Lam Coaching

Having negative thoughts is like carrying a bottle of poison that gradually sabotages your overall health. Your life will be much better if you let them go. 

Noticing when you start to become negative and stopping these negative thoughts is essential to retain your mind’s tranquility. 

Identify negative thoughts and write them

Writing your negative thoughts on paper will help you understand what triggers your negativity so that you can avoid them. 

It can also help you determine whether a thought is purely negative or a product of a problem or perception that you need to work through to let go. Then take some time to focus on the positive things that bring you happiness or appreciation. 

Stop believing negative thoughts

You cannot stop thinking negatively as long as you believe in it. The best way to stop negative thoughts is to stop believing in them. Negative thoughts lose their hold when you no longer believe in them. 

Avoid things that bring you down

Negative thoughts are a two-sided coin. Avoiding things that bring you down will help you switch to positive thinking. Practicing various mind relaxation techniques or doing your hobby helps achieve a relaxed and peaceful mind. 

  • Read inspiring real-life stories 
  • Seek the company of people who bring out the best in you
  • Do meditation, yoga, painting, gardening, swimming, running, reading, or just taking your dog out for a walk

Believe in yourself and heighten self-esteem

The mind is infused with positive thoughts when you believe in yourself. Notice how what and who you are right now is good. 

For instance, insanely thin bodies are constantly being promoted as “fashionable.” This can make you think negatively about your own body. Instead, believe in yourself and understand that a skinny body is actually unhealthy. This can help in stopping negative thoughts and heightening self-esteem.

Related: The 32 Best Books on Confidence and Self-Esteem

Nancy Belcher, PhD., MPA

Nancy Belcher

CEO and Co-Founder, Winona

The best way to discontinue a cycle of negativity is by working to consciously reprogram your brain.

When we have fallen into a habit of pessimism, our brains begin to produce automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs, via neural pathways. The more the neural pathways are impressed with certain beliefs, the more automatic they become.

Take every thought captive and flip negative ones into positive affirmations

The goal is to keep your brain’s ANT population to a minimum. The way to achieve that is by going on a mental diet. That means taking every thought captive and flipping the negative ones into positive affirmations.

If your current assumption is that “money is hard to come by”, stop that thought in its tracks and affirm the opposite. Say, “No, actually, all my bills are always paid on time.”

Mix affirmation with gratitude to supercharge the formation of new beliefs

Mixing gratitude in the mix is a way to supercharge the formation of new beliefs. When it comes to your money mindset, for example, you could affirm, “I am so grateful that my bills are always paid on time.”

When breaking the habit of pessimism, remember that you created it through repeated thoughts. That means you have the power to uncreate it. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

It’s not always easy staying positive in an often negative world. However, it is possible, especially if you do these three simple things:

Have uplifting and optimistic quotations or affirmative thoughts around

Words are powerful tools – they can bring us down or lift us up, and they can also help us be more positive. 

Having uplifting and optimistic quotations, or affirmative thoughts around, where you can see them regularly, can be one of the quickest ways to decrease your pessimism and increase your positivity.

Have those positive slogans as a background for your computer screen, post them on your refrigerator, use them with your signature on your emails, recite them to yourself throughout the day or put them on your bathroom mirror, so you start your day on a high note

One of the favorites that I use to keep a positive attitude is: “The world treats me as royalty wherever I go.” And it often does.

Focus on the things in your life for which you are thankful for

No matter your situation, there is always something for which you can be grateful. To be less pessimistic, try focusing on the things in your life for which you are thankful, no matter how small. 

Those might include the more significant things like your friends, family, or acquaintances, your health, and your work. Or, it might be the more minor things like the penny you found on the street, a beautiful flower you saw, or a child’s laughter you heard as you passed a playground.

Start keeping a daily list of those things. Even if you just write down one a day for which you are grateful. It can help open the door to being more optimistic by putting them in the foreground and your pessimism in the background.

Let go of your grudge towards someone or something

Carrying around a grudge toward someone or something is like having around a 10-pound sack of potatoes. It’s heavy, wears you out, and prevents you from fully enjoying your life. Put it down; let it go

Related: How to Let Go of Anger and Hate

Whenever you are in conflict, ask yourself, “Do I want to be right or happy?” The answer can change your life and help you stay on the positive, less pessimistic side.

Mia Hewett

Mia Hewett

Life Coach and CEO, Aligned Intelligence | Author, “Meant For More: Stop Secretly Struggling and Be A Force To Be Reckoned With

Why do we believe that the worst will happen?

The American Psychological Association (APA) dictionary defines a pessimistic person as people “who expect bad things to happen to them….” 

Pessimism is categorized as a personality type and can feel like part of you and not something you can change. But why do some people ‘instinctively’ think about the worst things that could happen to them? 

Our personality types are often viewed as falling somewhere between pessimism and optimism. Yet optimism isn’t the end goal if you want to stop being and, most importantly, feeling pessimistic. 

Trying to be more optimistic and ‘grateful’ is not a long-lasting or impactful way to feel more positive about yourself. This is why all of these solutions are like putting a plaster on a wound before you clean it. All you do is cover it up and trap the dirt inside! 

Do not force your thoughts to change how you feel

The first thing I want to say is that if you think pessimistically, just trying to think more positively will not work. You are not a negative person, and you do not need to force your thoughts to change how you feel.  In fact, this can be counterproductive and just leave you feeling frustrated and even angry with yourself when you don’t get any results. 

Pessimism is a way of practicing avoidance. One where you subconsciously think about the worst things that could happen. 

When you learned you couldn’t trust other people, and you believed that you were only safe if you were not reliant on anyone else. You start to subconsciously engage in avoidance strategies and predict that something bad will come from your actions.

Understand what caused you to feel afraid and self-sabotage

You have been taught that to be more positive you just need to try harder, find inner self-motivation and stop thinking too much! The pessimistic voice in your head is telling you that there is no point, so stop that voice and start believing that you are capable and the world is full of opportunity. 

Now I am not saying this will not help for a day or a week, but to permanently silence the pessimistic voice in your head, you must first understand what caused you to feel afraid and self-sabotage. Think the best, not the worst, about a situation and what will happen if you choose to operate within that space.

You can start by asking yourself:

  • Do you feel unworthy of your success?
  • Are you worried about what other people think of you or your aspirations?
  • Is fear driving your thoughts and actions?

If you just answered yes to any of the above questions, then you need to understand how past traumatic experiences made you value control over happiness and security over risk. When you address the reasons behind what drives your emotions, you can break free from a cycle of pessimistic thoughts.

Joann Perahia

Joann Perahia

Career Assessment Coach | Business Consultant, Systemic Solutions Inc.

Find your purpose

I am putting these in a list because when we are feeling very pessimistic, we cannot do everything at once. We must do things in baby steps.

I have a theory that it is easier to be pessimistic than optimistic. Think of gravity and energy. It takes more energy to hold up a ball, which is positive. It takes less energy just to let the ball drop. It takes more energy to be positive than it does to be negative.

I am a career coach where I help people find their purpose with purpose cards. One of the first steps that help one from being pessimistic is finding their purpose.

Related: How to Find Meaning and Purpose in Your Life

Our purpose is the talents and gifts we are born with; those gifts/talents are what we are supposed to give to other people. Think about how you feel when you give a physical gift to a person and see them smile. Once we feel we have a purpose, we instinctively become more positive.

We all are born with talents and gifts; we just have never been shown what they are for whatever reasons.

So here is a list. It can be used in any order. Do one at a time or as many as you like. Don’t overwhelm yourself. However, I find the first 2 to be very helpful at the start of the day.

  1. Focus on all the good things in your life. We all have them, no matter what. List them out—one at a time.
  2. Gratitude. Be grateful for those things above. List them out on paper, or the computer doesn’t matter what medium. “I am grateful for____________”
  3. Get off social media and:
    a. Stop looking at the people who show off how great their lives are. Because they are not!
    b. Or the influencers who say how much money they are making on social media for only doing two hours a day of work. That is just not true. It takes time to do podcasts, videos, etc.
  4. Go outside! Smell the air. Fresh air is one of the greatest gifts, even if it is 30 below.
  5. Find a hobby/interest that brings you joy no matter what it is. You don’t have to be good at it.
    a. Take a class on the above hobby or interest. It doesn’t have to be academic. Nowadays, there are even free classes via Zoom.
  6. Meditate – there are apps that teach you. Five minutes a day is fine.
  7. When a negative thought passes your mind, throw it out immediately. Say to yourself, “don’t go there.”
  8. Breathe – sometimes we are triggered by something that happens during the day. Take one minute out and inhale for 6 seconds and then exhale for 6 seconds. Do this when you have a pessimistic thought. It doesn’t matter where you do it, bathroom, car, hallway, etc.
  9. Stop being around negative people. Misery loves company.
  10. Forgive yourself and others. Forgiveness is also a way not to be pessimistic.
  11. Music and singing – no talent needed.

Aniko Dunn, Psy.D.

Aniko Dunn

Doctor of Psychology, EZCare Clinic

The pessimist defines the state of mind of the person who expects the worst. The pessimistic attitude is not very cheerful, shows less positivity and motivation. 

Being pessimistic means that you believe that evil is greater than good, and that evil can happen again.

Think about happiness and blessings

Waking up and thinking about happiness and blessings can help you start your day better. Before you go to sleep, try to remember the amazing results, consequences, and conclusions during the day so that you can sleep more calmly.

Gratitude is a powerful tool that can make you feel good even when you are distrustful. By intentionally practicing gratitude, you can learn how to stop being pessimistic and become more positive in life.

Show kindness to those in need

When you help and encourage people in a difficult situation, you are more likely to feel positive about yourself and your life.

Encouraging or uplifting others helps us feel vulnerable and increase our self-esteem to do something worthwhile.

Related: 30+ Reasons Why Kindness Is Important

Start your day with positive thoughts

It all depends on how you start your day, how you spend it, and end it. By starting your day positively, you can win before you start your daily challenges.

Here are some ways to get your day started peacefully:

  • Listening to podcasts
  • Reading helpful or inspirational books, articles, or blogs
  • Listening to positive music

Acknowledge learnings from past negative experiences

No person can live without experiencing a negative situation or other traumatic events at some point in life. People also blame their parents, siblings, mentors, teachers, co-workers, spouses, friends, and children for the negative experiences that darken their lives.

But a bad experience is a synonym that does not affect your whole life. Face reality, learn from experience, and refuse to influence the past, present, and future.

Eno Georgette Inwek

Eno Georgette Inwek

Speech, Self-Expression and Self-Care Coach

Acknowledge that you actually are pessimistic and make the necessary change

It’s imperative that we see the relationship between our pessimistic state and how we show up. As a business and speech coach, I grapple with people who are unable to distance themselves from their negativity.

It shows up in the rehearsals or speeches. It also causes them not to be able to convey their message without what appears to be upset or bitterness seeping through.

I had a personal experience years ago during my divorce. It was a betrayal of magnitude proportions. I was still working on jobs or projects in spaces that required me to be present for others as they worked on their own personal development journeys. I thought I was masking it well. I was not.

It’s quite laughable when I reflect. I had done absolutely nothing to heal or work on my hurting heart. Many of my videos and presentations emitted that same sad or pessimistic energy.

In many cases, if you’re hurt, upset, sad, traumatized, or have a chip on your shoulder about anything that’s happened, you will show up in life that way.

The idea of being less pessimistic requires practice. You have to acknowledge that you actually are pessimistic.

Many times we may find that hard to accept. If many people tell you repeatedly you’re “negative” or “heavy“, chances are you are pessimistic. Or maybe you’re misunderstood. Either way, I believe it’s something to explore in yourself, for yourself.

Finding that a part of how you show up is pessimistic is not something to blame yourself for, but it’s something to take note of so that you can make the necessary change.

Jod Kapilakan

Jod Kapilakan

Creator and Founder, Abundance No Limits

Be mindful and check your focus every time you analyze a situation

Our negative thoughts are the reason for us being pessimistic. We tend to think about the worst of a situation rather than the positive side. All this is because of our pessimistic behavior. 

The first thing to do is eradicate all the negative thoughts. Be mindful and check your focus every time you analyze a situation. 

Related: How to Get Rid of Negative Thoughts?

Engage yourself with positive thoughts and vibes. Attain this by reading and listening about positivity in life. 

Surround yourself with optimistic people and try to stay happy and laugh more. If you are in a decision-making situation, write down both the pros and cons, it will help you make your decision better without being a negative thinker.

Being pessimistic means not having joy and happiness for ourselves and others. The lack of hope, appreciation, and positivity leads to such an attitude.

Know what makes you pessimistic

To avoid being a pessimistic person, the first thing that you should be aware of is what makes you that: your negative thoughts, jealousy, depression, anxiety, and the inability to look at others well; external circumstances like disbelief, distrust, and dishonesty can also lead to the pessimistic behavior of a person.

Convert your negative thoughts to positive ones

  • Try to build trust and honesty for people
  • Read books about being optimistic
  • Listen to videos, podcasts, and tv shows that motivate you to have a positive attitude
  • Talk to family or friends or a counselor about tips for a positive mindset

Cat Howell

Cat Howell

Thought Leader and Business Mentor | Founder and Host, The Flow Protocols Podcast

Start to understand your emotions

Emotions are sophisticated sensors that serve you best by communicating to you if you’re out of alignment. When we feel overwhelmed by stress, fear, anxiety, or depression, it can be easy to view everything negatively.

At that moment, we are telling ourselves that the current perspective doesn’t match up with the view of the individual we aspire to be. If you feel pessimistic and unfulfilled in your lives or careers, we should listen to that sign.

When we start to understand these emotions, that is the first step to being more in tune with our intuition, and if you feel bad about something, your gut is trying to tell you it’s not right. A rule to abide by is that “you’re never aligned while working on something you’re not passionate about.”

I poured three years of my life into going down a professional path that was no longer fulfilling and kept telling myself “to suck it up” because I gave more weight to my rational mind, resulting in mental breakdown and depression.

To improve your mindset, ask yourself honestly –

  • “What do I enjoy doing?” in your personal and professional life, then go do a lot more of that.
  • “What aren’t you passionate about that is bringing you this negativity and not serving you?” Get rid of that or scale it back and set boundaries.

Intuition is never rational, so don’t try to justify it, just follow the flow, and you’ll find more freedom, fulfillment, and positivity will be brought into your life, making you feel more optimistic.

Shokouh Shojai Hatch

Shokouh Shojai Hatch

Wellness Coach | Co-founder, everlur

Rewrite the negative thought by first thanking it

We stop being pessimistic by first becoming aware of the thoughts that circle our minds throughout the day.

When we catch a negative thought, it is important not to judge ourselves for it. Instead, we can rewrite the negative thought by first thanking it for giving us contrast about how we want to see the world around us. Then we can consciously choose a more optimistic perspective of our situation.

For example, if we catch ourselves thinking that nothing in life ever goes well for us, we can say to ourselves:

“I thank this thought for giving me clarity. I want to see a world where everything is always working out for me. I know that this is a possibility and that I have the power to change things that aren’t feeling good to me anymore.”

Spend some time each day coming back to your breath and think

Most of our thoughts are based on our past experiences. Such dictates our beliefs around what will happen in the future. We need to understand that we live in a world of infinite possibilities. Regardless of our past, we have the power to change anything at any time.

Practicing gratitude also helps shift our perception of the things that are going well in our lives. By spending some time each day coming back to our breath and thinking about everything in our life that we are grateful for, we can shift our negative perceptions to be more optimistic and empowering.

Catherine Nikkel

 Catherine Nikkel

Storyteller and Copywriter

Pessimism isn’t generally a conscious choice someone makes. It often stems from and develops over time due to some form of traumatic experience in their lives; loss of employment, injury, sickness, etc. 

Those who are pessimistic can come across as having a lack of distrust in everything and everyone, they lack belief in themselves and others, and they are commonly referred to as “those who see the glass half empty.”

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help reverse that way of thinking. These changes won’t happen overnight, and for most, it will feel like an uphill battle. However, the journey to creating these new habits is worth it. 

Focus on seeing the possibilities 

One of the most evident things about pessimists is that they see the impossibilities instead of the possibilities. They see perceived obstacles or difficulties instead of finding solutions. 

Find ways to become more solution-driven instead of obstacle-bearing. Look for ways to go through the ‘impossible’ and celebrate the win in the end. 

Practice more gratitude in your life

Another way to overcome pessimism is practicing more gratitude in your life. A great way of doing this is to write down ten things you are most grateful for every day. 

These might include:

  • Food on your table 
  • A roof over your head
  • Conversations with great friends
  • Clean, running water 
  • A new book you purchased

A great habit is to create this list in the evening and make it the first thing you read when you start your day. This is a perfect way to condition your mind to see the greatness in the things we often take for granted

Be more mindful in all areas of your life

Becoming more mindful in all areas of your life can also help combat pessimism. Activities like journaling, yoga, and meditation are excellent ways of achieving this. 

Journaling, specifically, provides you with an outlet to jot down your thoughts and feelings and help you identify areas in which pessimism is taking over your mind.  These entries don’t need to be long and drawn out either — even 5 minutes a day to focus on your thoughts can be optimal to moving away from pessimism. 

Overall, moving away from being pessimistic is achievable for everyone with some commitment and a decision to curb this way of thinking. 

Dean Kaplan

Dean Kaplan

CEO, Kaplan Collection Agency

Face unfavorable circumstances and motivate yourself to rise to the challenge

Pessimistic thinking needs to be put in check before it gets out of control. Instead, you should face unfavorable circumstances and motivate yourself to rise to the challenge of overcoming them. 

At the same time, blind optimism is not the answer, as this can lead to not properly evaluating risks and placing your plans in jeopardy.  

Don’t expect to win 100 percent of the time

Even top athletes don’t expect to win every match they play in. Pessimists tend to exaggerate problems, worry about unlikely threats, and feel defeated in the face of obstacles.

Focus on the possibilities of life—not the impossibilities

Optimists believe they will eventually prevail and see failures as temporary setbacks before success. Pessimists need to focus on the possibilities of life, not the impossibilities. 

Instead of letting your mind become overwhelmed by the difficulties, visualize yourself overcoming them one by one and emerging victorious

Banish negative words from your vocabulary

Nothing breeds pessimism more than negative words, so banish those from your vocabulary.

Learn to see the positive side of things and talk about the opportunities and possibilities in front of you. 

By looking at things from a different angle, your entire worldview can change. Above all, don’t label yourself as a pessimist, as this will put you in a box you don’t want to be in. 

Open your mind to the unexpected

Even in the darkest hour, a solution can emerge in a way you could never have predicted. But if you close your mind with pessimism, you may never see it. 

So be optimistic, believe in yourself and your journey, and you will see that that life can be wonderful in surprising ways.

Amber Theurer

Amber Theurer

Chief Marketing Officer, ivee

Come up with potential solutions rather than settling on setbacks

Come up with potential solutions rather than settling on the idea that one setback makes you a failure. For instance, marketers are bound to run into obstacles when trying to promote a business.

Rather than being hard on themselves if their marketing efforts do not result in business growth, they can try to take a lesson out of whatever issues they face. Perhaps they may realize that they need to put more effort into SEO or that they need to think of more engaging ideas for content.

While it is generally essential to feel your feelings, it is not productive to make your feelings self-serving. You have to eventually problem-solve to fix whatever issues caused you to become pessimistic in the first place.

Adam Shlomi

Adam Shlomi

Founder, SoFlo Tutors

Incorporate positive daily habits surrounding a major goal

Having a pessimistic mindset can have an incredible impact on your ability to achieve your dreams as an entrepreneur.

During my junior year of college, I suffered a horrible ankle injury while camping with friends in West Virginia that required emergency surgery and left me unable to put any pressure on my leg with the possibility of never walking again.

I could have easily let the uncertainty of the situation leave me in a perpetual state of negativity, but I gave myself time to reflect, speak with those around me, and incorporate positive daily habits surrounding a major goal.

Our neural connections impact how we view the world around us, so leading your mind towards something positive can help distract you from the negatives and start finding solutions for moving forward.

I chose to use my time on bed rest to focus on something I enjoyed and used my experience to build my view of the future, which led me to establish my business and find my passion.

It just goes to show that your perspective is everything and it cannot be found by lingering in the past. As Winston Churchill once said, “you must see the opportunities in every difficulty.”

Julie Ann Ensomo

Julie Ann Ensomo

Founder, Adaptable Mama

I used to be one. Until I started doing the following:

Celebrating small improvements

When I started my website, it was easy to look at how far and how long it would still take me to have this much traffic, money, etc. But I started to look at small, incremental improvements, which certainly changed my perspective! 

I became optimistic about my efforts, and I now only think of long-term goals and look at incremental improvements because I know this compound effort would bring me to my goals, slowly but surely.

Listen to inspiring podcasts

They are my drug against pessimism, which still creeps in sometimes. When I fill my brain with good thoughts, optimistic opinions, and sometimes, pragmatic views from podcasters or people that inspire me, I no longer have the space in my brain, nor the excuse, to become a pessimist.

Practicing the art of gratitude

The simple thought of my family and loved ones still physically, mentally, and financially okay, even though there’s still a pandemic, is enough for me to stay optimistic. 

So look at the important things to you, focus on them, and be grateful to avoid thinking pessimistic views.

Stop hanging out with pessimists

You’re the average of the five people you spend your time with. So if you’re friends with a lot of pessimists, you’ll definitely become one. 

Look for more people who have a more positive outlook in life and stop befriending those who will bring you down.

Michelle Devani

Michelle Devani

Founder, lovedevani

Circulate positive thinking for your nightmares and hurdles

Most of the sayings are true that the more you get older, the more you want something that exceeds your expectations. Thus, most of us wish to bring ourselves back from the past and hope to remain as a child wherein there are no worries and struggles about what tomorrow awaits. 

It was all about pure happiness without pessimism. However, life is just like that. We cannot control it, and all we have to do is embody that moment. 

As a business owner, I understand everyone does not forget their traumatic experiences from the past, but we should forgive and stop seeing things indifferently even without trying them.

That’s why it’s essential to unleash yourself from the dark. Circulate positive thinking for your nightmares and hurdles. 

Stop overthinking

Next, stop overthinking, which brings you more stress. Sometimes overthinking makes someone have difficulties with their sleep and life interpretations, which leads to pessimism.

Related: How to Stop Overthinking Everything

Therefore, try to listen to music and distract yourself from new activities that will benefit you. It could be exercise, art crafts, cooking, and more. 

Limit your trust issues and have someone to vent out on

Lastly, limit your trust issues and have someone to vent out on what’s on your mind. It helps you feel lighter and drives you to better ideas. Remember, you are not alone with your battles, so make it count.

April Maccario

April Maccario

Founder, AskApril

Optimists and pessimists coexist in the workplace. If you’re asked who you’ll go to, I’m betting the optimistic individual will get the most votes.

I know that having a pessimistic mindset is unhelpful because it simply creates negative energy in the office. However, performing healthy habits might help you stop being pessimistic.

Change how you think so that you can change how you speak

In my experience, instead of thinking negative and unhealthy thoughts, change how you think so that you can change how you speak. Everything will begin with how you think, so start there.

Surround yourself with positive people since it will improve you, especially since the people you are surrounded by have the most power over you. Most importantly, instead of tackling the problem, focus on solutions.

Ian Sells

Ian Sells

CEO and Founder, RebateKey

People who see the glass half empty may think that it’s just their hardwiring that led them to be this way. However, like everything else, everything is learned and, therefore, can be unlearned.

Be aware of your thought distortions and triggers

Being pessimistic is a learned behavior. Become more aware of the lens you’re using to view the world. Most of the time, pessimism is triggered by certain events. Be mindful of such events.

For example, you’re given by a boss you look up to with a task. You begin anticipating that things will turn out badly, start catastrophizing, or measure yourself up to really high standards.

All of these are cognitive distortions or unhealthy thought patterns that are triggered by you being given a task or being trusted by a person you look up to.

Challenge your thoughts and see whether they’re rational

Not because you had a certain thought does it mean that it’s correct. Thoughts are simply thoughts. Challenge your thoughts and see whether they’re rational.

Sally Stevens

Sally Stevens


Pessimism doesn’t arise from having bad days or simply getting disappointed. More than anything, pessimism is a state of mind where one constantly views things from a negative point. 

Being a pessimist can suck the soul out of everything within your immediate environment. This means that your workmates, family, and friends will be affected in one way or the other by your negative views all the time. 

Focus your energy on the positive things in your life

Being grateful for something is the antithesis of pessimism. Ultimately, pessimists will always emanate from a focus on things you lack instead of being thankful for those you have. 

Creating a gratitude list allows you to focus your energy on the positive things in your life rather than sticking with the negative ones, as is often the case with pessimism. 

Find an outlet for the negative energy

Outlets are crucial to maintaining your sanity. Ultimately, all thoughts turn out into actions. Negative thoughts bring out negative actions, while the positive ones do the exact opposite. 

An outlet that allows you to vent your feelings onto an object should always be within your plan. Taking up boxing, painting, long hikes, or anything that will enable you to burn off the energy is quite important

Richard Lubicky

Richard Lubicky

Founder, Real People Search

Change and modify thoughts to overcome pessimism

Philosophy and religions have given space to pessimistic attitudes. And in recent decades, even psychology and science have done the same. The big problem is that pessimism and a happy and fulfilled life rarely go together.

I have suffered a lot with pessimism, but I learned to change and modify my thoughts to overcome pessimism and invested a lot to learn how to be more optimistic.

I noticed that most pessimistic thoughts are repetitive, and as a result, they quickly become automatic. To avoid this, always question whether a certain bad thought makes sense and assess the chances that it will come true.

Keep in mind that pessimism is just a way of reading the information we receive around the world.

Manage expectations to avoid frustration

Excessive expectations can bring a lot of frustration, especially when things don’t go as expected. A person who is constantly frustrated ends up developing a pessimistic mindset, always expecting the worst of things and people.

Related: How to Let Go of Expectations & Why It’s Important

I started analyzing everything realistically on solid grounds with a 2+2=4 formula and managed my expectations to avoid frustration leading to pessimism.

Lynda Fairly 

Lynda Fairly 

Co-founder, Numlooker

The cold and sometimes harsh emotional environment makes it very hard to keep things in perspective, especially if you have a pessimistic disposition. While this may seem impossible for some people, it’s often possible with time and practice.

But let’s be honest, because we’re not all made of sunshine and rainbows — some days just make it more difficult than others. Sometimes, your outlook is so bad that it’s hard to keep from getting frustrated when you don’t get the attention you crave or the confidence you deserve.

Build confidence and have something to look forward to

Lack of confidence and ambition can stem from many sources, but lack of confidence tends to be one of the first things to go with age. When you’re not sure what your prospects are or what you have to offer, it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

Learn the difference between being pessimistic and realistic

There is a difference between dwelling on problems and admitting that they may even out in the end.

Your outlook will make a big difference in how you act toward others and how successful your life will be, so don’t be afraid of mistaking pessimism for realism.

Stop worrying about everything to death

This can be an extremely difficult step for many people, especially those who tend to worry over everything.

We’ve all been there — when you think that the world has ended, you start making a list of all the things that could go wrong and then constantly add more things to it. It’s a problem we can all learn from.

Tim White

tim white

CEO and Founder, MilePro

Journal your wins relish them

It’s far easier to forget winning moments than forget embarrassing or humiliating moments. That’s why it’s important to journal about your wins.

It not only helps you to notice them and be able to go back to the feeling of that moment, but it helps you to process your feelings at the moment and relish them.

If you get in the habit of doing this, these memories will stay sharper and clearer, and you can look forward with optimism towards your next win!

Engage in daily positive self-talk

Habits yield results; it’s just true! So start pumping yourself up every morning. Soon this positive self-talk habit will be second nature and lead to a more optimistic outlook.

Matt Woods

Matt Woods

Co-Founder and CEO,

Keep moving forward and stay motivated

It helps when you have a big goal to work towards that you are truly passionate about. Looking towards this north star will give you more of a reason to maintain a positive attitude.

I have learned that this is definitely true of entrepreneurship; dwelling in mishaps or mistakes does not help with progress. The only other option is to keep moving forward and stay motivated.

For instance, if you had a particular sales goal for the past month and did not reach it, you can look back at your marketing analytics to determine what strategies to eliminate and which to capitalize on more.

Problem-solving is much more helpful than getting too down on yourself. Being pessimistic only keeps your mind in the past rather than allowing you to stay in the present or look ahead. If you consider how, logically, pessimism is simply not productive, this can help you to snap out of that mindset.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Signs of a Pessimist? 

Pessimism is a personality trait that can make it difficult for individuals to see the bright side of things, leading to a chronic state of disappointment, frustration, and sadness. If you suspect that someone close to you is a pessimist, here are some signs to look out for:

Negative thinking: Pessimists tend to see the worst in any situation. They often focus on the potential drawbacks and challenges and overlook the positive aspects. This type of thinking can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Low self-esteem: Pessimists tend to have a negative view of themselves. They may feel that they are inadequate or unworthy and may not believe in their own abilities.

Avoidance of new experiences: Pessimists may avoid trying new things because they believe they will fail or the outcome will not be positive. This can lead to a limited and unsatisfying life.

Expectations of failure: Pessimists expect that things will not turn out well and that they will not be able to achieve their goals. This mindset can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, where individuals do not try their best or give up too soon.

Depression and anxiety: Pessimism can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. People with a negative outlook on life may experience a sense of hopelessness and fear, making it difficult to enjoy life or participate in activities.

Difficulty expressing positive emotions: Pessimists may struggle to express positive emotions, such as joy, happiness, and excitement. They may also have trouble recognizing positive emotions in others.

Remember that pessimism is a trait that can be changed with effort and support. Encouraging positive thinking and building self-esteem can help individuals overcome their negative outlook and lead a more fulfilling life.

What Causes a Person to Be Pessimistic? 

These are several factors that can contribute to a person’s pessimistic outlook, including:

Nature: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to be more pessimistic.

Nurture: A person’s environment, including childhood experiences and relationships, can contribute to the development of pessimism.

Trauma: Traumatic experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or loss, can lead to negative thoughts and emotions that can shape a person’s outlook on life.

Cognitive patterns: Negative thinking patterns, such as rumination, overgeneralization, and magnification, can also contribute to pessimism.

Chronic stress: Prolonged exposure to stress can cause a person to become more pessimistic and anxious.

Mental health: Certain mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can also lead to pessimistic thinking.

While some degree of pessimism is normal, excessive and persistent pessimism can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life and well-being. Seeking help from a mental health professional can be beneficial in managing and reducing pessimism.

Is Being a Pessimist Toxic?  

Yes, pessimism can be toxic if it negatively affects one’s mental health and well-being, as well as relationships with others. Chronic pessimism can lead to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and decreased motivation, impacting a person’s ability to enjoy life and pursue their goals. 

On the other hand, a healthy dose of realism and skepticism can be beneficial in preventing disappointment and protecting oneself from negative outcomes. The key is finding a balance and not allowing pessimistic thoughts to consume one’s life. 

In conclusion, being a pessimist can be toxic if it becomes excessive and debilitating, but a realistic and balanced outlook can be beneficial.

How Do I Change From Pessimist to Optimist? 

Changing your mindset from a pessimistic to an optimistic one requires effort and dedication, but it is possible. Here are some steps to help you get started:

Practice gratitude: Make a daily habit of listing things you’re grateful for, no matter how small they may seem. This helps shift your focus away from negative thoughts and towards positive ones.

Reframe your thoughts: Instead of thinking, “I can’t do this,” try thinking, “I can learn to do this.” This simple change in wording can help you view challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement.

Surround yourself with positivity: Spend time with people who have a positive outlook on life, read uplifting books, and watch inspiring movies.

Focus on solutions, not problems: When faced with a challenge, focus on finding a solution instead of dwelling on what’s wrong.

Set achievable goals: Having something to work towards can give you a sense of purpose and boost your confidence.

Cultivate mindfulness: Practice being present in the moment and focusing on your senses. This can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Remember, change takes time, but with consistent effort, you can develop a more optimistic outlook on life.

How Do Pessimists Deal With Stress?

Pessimists often deal with stress by using negative coping mechanisms, such as withdrawing from situations or engaging in unhealthy habits like substance abuse or overeating. They may also ruminate on the stressor and focus on worst-case scenarios, leading to increased anxiety and a sense of helplessness. 

To effectively deal with stress, pessimists should focus on developing a more positive outlook and engage in stress-reducing activities such as exercise, meditation, or therapy. Pessimists need to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional to develop healthy coping strategies and improve their overall well-being.

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