Having a positive outlook translates into a happier and healthier life—and it’s not as elusive as you might think. Though there is evidence that optimism has biological and genetic roots, research has shown that we can shape our attitude to see the best possible outcomes in life, cultivating happiness, gratitude, and resilience while reducing stress and anxiety. And for those who may see the glass as half full, it is possible that pessimistic thinking can actually lead to positive outcomes. This special issue looks at the benefits of an optimistic mindset in all aspects of life, how to frame everyday thoughts in a favorable light, and how to maximize positive inclinations.
LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE • Finding optimism even in difficult times can lead to better moods and stronger mindsets—so long as that optimism is real.
UNDERSTANDING OUR ATTITUDES • Are we born optimistic (or pessimistic)? Science is only beginning to understand the origins of our outlook on life.
Nature vs. Nurture • When it comes to optimism, which is more important: genes or environment? Turns out, that’s the wrong question.
How the Brain Turns Lead into Gold • Though we may underestimate our ability to cope with misfortune, our minds are equipped to quickly reframe challenges in a positive light.
The Power of Pessimism? Yes • Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to think negatively. Planning for the worst can often position us for the best possible outcome.
THE CURMUDGEON DIARIES • One man ventures into the depths of pessimism—and lives to tell about it.
Inside the Animal Mind • Many species—crows, dolphins, barnyard beasts—have unique ways of demonstrating a positive outlook.
CULTIVATING A POSITIVE OUTLOOK • Optimism, hope, and joy are all within reach for those who take a thoughtful approach to life.
Making Happiness Happen • Seize the day! Here’s how to infuse everyday life with more positivity, fun—and joy.
Bounce Back! • Tough times happen. But if you train yourself to be resilient, you’ll be ready for anything.
Positive Parenting • Coaxing your kiddo to discover the silver lining isn’t as hard as you might think.
RAISING YOUR TEEN’S SPIRIT • Positive reinforcement can help older kids feel more, well, positive.
Happiness 101 • Colleges across the country have started offering courses in positive psychology, satisfying both the academic curiosity and emotional needs of students.
How Mindfulness Can Boost Your Outlook • Taking a break from the chaos of life to meditate and focus your mind can help promote more positive feelings.
LOG ON FOR MINDFULNESS
EMBRACING HOPE • No matter where you look in the world, you are bound to find positive inspiration.
Finding Hope from Faith • Having deep connections to a higher power, a bonded congregation, and the world at large can be a meaningful source of optimism.
Think Positive, Get Lucky • Serendipity isn’t entirely a matter of chance. Experts have identified four habits that can set us up for good fortune.
SHINING BRIGHT • In the face of daunting obstacles, these public figures have demonstrated remarkable spirit.
“Power” to the People • Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking instilled in Americans the idea that they could will success.
LIGHTS! CAMERA! OPTIMISM! • Hollywood has always been drawn to uplifting stories of hope and positivity.
The Power of Optimism
WORDS TO LIFT BY