It goes without saying that cultivating and promoting optimism are core values at Nice News: Beyond brightening up your inbox, positivity plays a significant role in well-being. The benefits of positive thinking range from improved cardiovascular health to better coping skills and more.

And in additional uplifting news, it’s 100% possible to foster an optimistic outlook, even for those who tend toward a “glass half-empty” way of thinking. By consistently practicing science-backed exercises and techniques, anyone can make positive thinking a habit and shift their perspective for the better.

Read on for five methods.

Challenge Negative Self-Talk

Most of us have at some point been plagued by negative self-talk. Unfortunately, for many people, that critical inner monologue actually interferes with happiness on a daily basis. Per the Mayo Clinic, examples of negative self-talk include catastrophizing minor incidents, filtering out the good and focusing on the bad, and ruminating on things you should have done.

Thankfully, there are several practical ways to combat our inner critics. One of them is by imagining that the person saying or experiencing those negative thoughts is your best friend or family member, and responding to yourself the way you would to them.

“We’re talking about using the same kind and gentle language and approaches that we do with the other people we love in our lives with ourselves,” clinical psychologist Joy Harden Bradford explained to NPR. “Because we’re also people that we hopefully love, right?”


For example, if your oldest friend came to you and said “I’m never going to amount to anything,” or “I’m not worthy of being happy,” you’d likely use kind, soothing words to assure them that those beliefs aren’t true. Get four more tips for challenging negative self-talk.

Look for the Humor

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You likely don’t need any convincing that laughter is good for you, but regardless, there is scientific evidence to back up its benefits. Aside from merely making us feel better, it stands to reason that learning to look for levity in difficult or frustrating situations can help promote a more optimistic perspective overall.

Next time you find yourself growing annoyed at a long checkout line or feeling awkward over an interaction at work, consciously choose to find the humor in the situation. Research has shown that even forced laughter can improve moods.

Implement a Growth Mindset

You may already be familiar with the term “growth mindset.” Developed by American psychologist and researcher Carol Dweck, it was popularized in her 2006 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Simply put, a growth mindset is a way of thinking about life’s challenges and obstacles as opportunities for personal growth. And while that may seem like a challenge in and of itself, the beauty of this practice is that it’s actually quite easy to start implementing — it begins with changing the words you use to describe situations or yourself.


“A simple example of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset is ‘I’m not good at yoga,’ versus ‘I’m not good at yoga yet,’” licensed clinical social worker Ashley Peña explained to Verywell Mind. The former statement implies you are in a fixed position, whereas the latter allows for a future in which you can and do improve. Learn more here.


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Personal affirmations are short, positive statements about the self that are repeated on a regular basis. Per a 2014 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology, “timely affirmations have been shown to improve education, health, and relationship outcomes, with benefits that sometimes persist for months and years.” Other research suggests the practice can decrease stress.

There are some things to consider when starting out, however. You’ll want to avoid using overly broad or generic statements like “I really like myself,” David Creswell, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told The Washington Post in 2022. Instead, try to make them specific and aligned with your core values about yourself.

“This is about accurately and authentically encouraging yourself or using words of encouragement or acknowledgment that are consistent with your truth,” clinical psychologist Natalie Dattilo added.


Go here for a list of affirmations that might work for you, and then check out this interesting thought experiment that illustrates their effectiveness.

The “Three Good Things” Exercise

We’ve all heard how practicing gratitude can improve our lives — studies have borne out its physical and mental health benefits. So why does it sometimes seem so difficult to actually implement thankfulness into our day to day?

If you’re in the midst of an unpleasant feeling or experience, reminding yourself of all you have going for you is easier said than done (though it can be an effective means of boosting your mood in the moment!).

That’s what makes the “Three Good Things” exercise a great option. It calls for setting aside 10 minutes a day for a week to focus on what you’re grateful for.

Per Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the exercise involves picking out three positive things that happened during your day — it could be something as small as having a delicious cup of coffee — then describing them in detail and offering a reason for why each one was impactful. Learn the complete instructions here.