Twelve characteristics of TOUGH-MINDED optimists

“Well, just try to be positive.”  To anybody who has ever dealt with depression, you know how awful this advice can sometimes make you feel.  How can I force my mind to be positive when it’s my brain that isn’t functioning properly?  When the chemicals in my brain are so sluggish that I am not capable of producing positive feelings, literally. When the actual problem with depression is your actual perception of the world.  There’s a dark cloud that hangs over you and there is no light.   By very definition chemical depression is marked with feelings of hopelessness, fatigue and apathy.  Sometimes I feel like despite all the self-will and motivation I have, it seems impossible to conjure up positive feelings because my brain just feels broken!

The phrase ‘be positive’makes me feel like I’m just covering up what’s really going on.  Instead of facing an issue I tell myself to just be positive and somehow by doing so the problem will just go away.  It’s a close friend asking me how I’m doing and me saying “great” and ending the conversation right there.

I like the word optimism better.  I guess you could say that the two words are synonymous.  HOWEVER, a friend gave me this list and since then I’ve decided I like OPTIMISM DEFINED.


1.  Optimists are seldom surprised by trouble:  They know it’s part of exisiting

2. Optimists look for partial solutions: One step or task at a time

3. Optimists believe they have control over their future: They set goals within their limits

4. Optimists allow for regular renewal: exercise, laughter, sleep

5. Optimists interrupt their negative trains of thought: they change the channel in their brain

6. Optimists heighten their power of appreciation: list it daily, in your head or on paper

7. Optimists use their imaginations to rehearse success: imagine the best outcome

8. Optimists are cheerful even when they can’t be happy.

9. Optimists believe they have an almost unlimited capacity for stretching and growing.

10. Optimists build lots of love into their lives: reach out to others.

11. Optimists like the swap good news.

12.  Optimists accept what cannot be changed: other people or the past.  They know that the only thing they can change is themselves.


It’s not vague, it’s not covering up the problem.  It’s helped me in restructuring my thought process by giving me specifics.  I like the title, ‘TOUGH-MINDED’ optimists.  I may not have control of how I feel when I hit a low, but I am tough.  I know that no matter how cloudy my perspective gets, no matter how dark the depression may be I can utilize optimism defined to get me through it.  Not being surprised by trouble:  accepting the ups and downs of depression and not freaking out or complaining when I hit a low.  Expanding my power of appreciation: I’ve written down lists, dedicated a prayer to appreciation.  Even though a lot of the time when I’m super depressed I don’t FEEL grateful or even FEEL much of anything about anything I can KNOW that I can stil be optimistic.  I can.  I’ve tried it and I can and so can you!  I still continue to fight through the ups and downs of depression but trying to develop the characteristics/coping skills of a tough-minded optimist is really helping me.

I hope this can help you like it has helped me.

Another thing that really helps me on a daily basis is this…

Today he was “helping” me plant my flowers.  He came up to me and said “Look Mom, I’m a pot-head”.  Awesome.  Definitely made me feel optimistic.


3 thoughts on “Twelve characteristics of TOUGH-MINDED optimists

  1. Totally agree with the your characteristics and LOVE that it’s TOUGH-Minded Optimists. This list is great!! I love it! Though I have some food for thought, and am not trying to be critical out of anything other than sheer desire to communicate. As I’m facing cancer for the 3rd time in my short 30 years of life I strive to be both optimistic AND positive. Maybe it’s our definitions of positivity that differ? I too detest it when I hear things like “just be positive.” However, I don’t think I have the right to answer someone honestly when they randomly ask “How are you?” just because it’s the truth and as said above, “being open with others about what’s really going on.” If it’s going to negatively impact someone to share ALL of my real life with them, or hurt their desire to be around me and be my friend (because we all need to work on being a friend if we want to keep them) I find it wrong to bring someone else down with all the truth. Why not share what’s really going on in our lives WHILE following all of the 12 characteristics above?? If we are, then sharing our real thoughts about our lives will come across in a positive/optimistic light. It seems that putting a positive spin on things is what many aspects of your list is talking about- partial solutions, one step at a time, goals within limits, laughter (even when you don’t FEEL particularly happy), interrupting negative thoughts, imagining the best outcome, ACTING cheerful (maybe by answering “great?”), reaching out to others and focusing on the good in life. All of these things, I suggest, are both positive AND optimistic. Now if I can just be more “optimistic” with my negative thoughts about people who say to me… Just be positive!!! 🙂

  2. I love this post. I think I’ll pin it so I can remember it when needed. I love that Logan said he was a pothead. 🙂 I do think that my little Millie was sent here to be a comfort to me on a daily basis too, and she always magically knows just what I need. Kids are kind of amazing, huh?! I still miss our talks.

  3. I love this list, Sarah. It gives me some goals to work on. I love Logan as a pothead; what a little smartypants! PS sometimes I feel the same way, I tell Dave “I think my brain is broken!” Way to fight back 🙂

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