The power of positive thinking: 10 personality traits of optimistic people

Have you ever met someone who always sees the glass as half full, no matter what life throws their way? 

Then, I’m sure this person is an optimist. And their positive outlook positively affects their happiness and well-being.

After reading Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking,”  I’ve become inspired by positive psychology and started to notice that optimistic people have 10 personality traits in common.

That’s why I decided to share those 10 personality traits of optimistic people with you. Whether you’re an optimist yourself or simply looking to cultivate a more positive outlook on life, this article is for you.

10 personality traits of optimistic people

1) Enthusiasm

“Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars.” — Henry Ford

Ever noticed how optimistic people perceive life?

One thing I personally observed is that they approach every day with a sense of excitement and eagerness.

They see the potential for adventure and growth in every situation. In simple words, they’re enthusiastic about life and do their best to live it to the fullest.

Perhaps most surprisingly, enthusiasm is the trait that you can most easily observe in optimistic people. 

They approach life with a sense of excitement and eagerness, seeing the potential for adventure and growth in every situation.

For example, an enthusiastic optimist might start their day with a smile and a skip in their step, ready to tackle whatever challenges come their way. They approach their work with energy and passion, and they enjoy finding new and creative solutions to problems. 

That’s what separates them from the rest of us, who may approach life with a more reserved or cynical outlook.

Optimistic people are naturally upbeat and energetic, and their positive outlook is contagious.

But why is enthusiasm such a critical component of the optimistic mindset? 

If that’s what you’re wondering, then I’m ready to tell you that the answer is simple: it provides the energy and motivation needed to perceive life in positive terms. And this positive outlook, in turn, helps you stay motivated and inspired, even when faced with challenges.

But you know what’s the most important part?

Enthusiasm is contagious. 

Think of this personality trait as a boomerang that you throw out into the world. The more energy and positivity you put into your outlook, the more it will come back to you. 

This means that by embracing enthusiasm, you not only spread joy to those around you, but you also bring more joy and positivity into your own life.

So, it’s a win-win situation, where your positive outlook has a positive impact on both yourself and those around you.

2) Confidence

“Confidence is not ‘they will like me.’ Confidence is ‘I’ll be fine if they don’t.” – Christina Grimmie

This quote perfectly captures the essence of what I believe true confidence to be. 

You see, optimistic individuals possess a strong sense of self-assurance and trust in their own abilities to handle challenges and overcome obstacles.

For example, an optimistic person might be more likely to try something new, speak up in a meeting, or take on a difficult project at work, because they have faith in their ability to succeed.

At least, that’s something all the optimistic people I’ve met have in common.

Now, if you think about it, this confidence is closely linked to self-esteem. 

Of course, I am not implying that all optimistic people have high self-esteem. That’s simply not possible because self-esteem depends on various external factors as well, other than personality traits.

But one thing is for sure:

When we have high self-esteem, we tend to view ourselves as capable, competent, and deserving of respect.

Still, psychologists often say that there is a trade-off between confidence and optimism.

What does it mean?

Well, it means that while an optimistic person may have confidence in their ability to handle life’s challenges, they may also have moments of self-doubt. 

On the other hand, a confident person may not necessarily be optimistic and may lack a positive outlook on life.

If that’s the case, then why do I consider confidence one of the key personality traits of optimistic people?

Because confidence when an optimistic person is faced with challenges, they’re less likely to be overwhelmed by stress or anxiety and are more likely to believe in their ability to find solutions and overcome obstacles. 

This inner strength and resilience allow them to approach life with an optimistic mindset, even in the face of adversity.

3) Resilience

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela

Speaking of resilience, let me ask you one question.

Have you ever faced a difficult situation and felt like giving up? 

Most of us have been there at some point. 

But for optimistic people, resilience is a defining personality trait that sets them apart.

Now you might be wondering what resilience is at all and why it has become such a popular trend in today’s psychological discussions. 

Well, the first time I heard about this term was about 4 years ago, during my positive psychology class at university.

I remember that I was so impressed by the concept of resilience that I decided to use it for my bachelor’s thesis.

I’m proud to say that nothing has changed afterward. Why?

Because resilience is a critical component of our psychological well-being and quality of life. And this isn’t my speculation, it’s something scientific studies consistently prove.

Let me explain what I mean.

Resilience refers to an individual’s ability to bounce back from adverse situations, adapt and overcome challenges. It’s like a rubber band that snaps back into place even after being stretched to its limits.

From a psychological perspective, resilience is an important factor in the development of mental toughness and well-being. When faced with adversity, resilient individuals are better equipped to cope with stress, maintain their positive outlook, and overcome obstacles.

For example, an optimist who experiences a setback in their career might view it as a temporary setback and an opportunity for growth and learning. They’ll be more likely to pick themselves up and try again, rather than being discouraged and giving up.

That’s why I consider it one of the personality traits of optimistic people. And I’m sure it helps them to cultivate a positive attitude and maintain a sense of hope, even in challenging times.

4) Hope

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

Whether resilience is actually something that cultivates hope in optimistic people is a matter of discussion. But before someone like me decides to conduct proper research on this topic, I’m going to presume that hope is another personality trait of optimistic people.

At least, that’s something I repeatedly observe in optimistic people — they’re hopeful about the future and believe that things will work out for the best, even in the face of adversity. 

For example, one of the most famous depictions of hope in pop culture is the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness.” 

Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who, despite facing numerous obstacles, never loses hope and continues to pursue his dreams.

Perhaps it’s because of this optimism—a personality trait that is fixated on and has an influence over the majority of events in our lives.

The movie is a true testament to the power of hope and the belief that anything is possible if you work hard and never give up. 

This is a classic example of how optimistic people approach life with a sense of hope and believe that they can overcome any challenge that comes their way.

In either case, I’m sure that without hope, it’s easy to lose sight of the possibilities and become bogged down by negativity.

5) Humor

“The human race has only one effective weapon, and that is laughter.” – Mark Twain

You know what’s another personality trait that could explain why optimistic people are hopeful?

It’s humor.

And I’m sure this quote from Mark Twain perfectly describes the importance of humor in one’s life, especially for optimistic people. 

Humor is a weapon that has the power to diffuse tension, lighten up our moods, and even put a smile on someone’s face.

For optimistic people, humor is more than just a way to pass time or make others laugh. It’s a way of looking at the world and finding joy even in the toughest of situations. 

And you know what?

They use humor to shift their perspective, maintain a positive outlook, and keep their spirits high.

Looking for an example of an optimistic person with a trait of humor?

Well, then, you should know that Mark Twain is often considered one of the most optimistic and humorous writers of all time. 

Because of his witty sayings and sarcastic humor, I consider him one of the most inspirational authors of all time.

personality traits that show youre a smart woman 1 The power of positive thinking: 10 personality traits of optimistic people

But let’s return to our discussion of humor as a personality trait of optimistic people.

In regards to the personality trait of humor, it is often said that laughter is the best medicine, and it’s no secret that humor can have a profound impact on our well-being.

What’s even more important to me as a psychologist, studies have shown that humor can improve our mood, boost our immune system, and even reduce the risk of heart disease.

So guess what?

It’s not surprising that humor is another defining personality trait of optimistic people.

And that’s what sets them apart — they’re able to find hope and happiness even in the darkest of moments, thanks to their quick wit and sense of humor.

6) Gratitude

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” – Zig Ziglar

Something I admire the most about optimistic people is that they’re grateful for what they have, no matter how small it may seem. 

They understand that everything they have, big or small, contributes to their overall happiness and well-being. 

And, because of that, they are always looking for opportunities to express their gratitude and spread positivity to others.

That’s why I like this quote from American motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. I believe that being able to praise things you have in life is the healthiest emotion that a person can possess.

In simple words, it is the key to attracting more positivity and abundance in life.

But you know what else?

For optimistic people, gratitude is not just a personality trait, it’s a way of life. They cultivate an attitude of gratitude by focusing on what they have, instead of what they don’t have.

Think about it. 

When you’re grateful for what you have, you feel content, fulfilled, and happy. And, when you’re happy, you’re naturally more positive, optimistic, and hopeful about the future.

That’s how they are able to see the good in every situation and find the silver lining in every cloud.

And, that’s the power of gratitude.

So, I believe that if you want to cultivate a more optimistic outlook on life, start by expressing gratitude for what you have, and watch how it transforms your life.

7) Passion

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey

Want to know what I consider the key to success in life, regardless of circumstances?

3 personality traits: humor, gratitude, and passion.

Since we’ve already discussed the first two personality traits, let me explain why passion is an integral part of optimistic people’s lives.

Imagine living without passion. It would be like walking through life with a heavy burden on your shoulders, wouldn’t it?

It’s like living with no drive or motivation to push you forward. I’m sure everything would seem dull and uninteresting.

But on the other hand, imagine having a deep and abiding passion for something, be it your work, a hobby, or a cause. 

That passion would light a fire within you, giving you the energy and drive to tackle even the most difficult of challenges with a positive outlook.

And, to me, that is what sets optimistic people apart. 

They are fueled by a passion for life, a desire to make the most of every moment, and to strive for better things. 

Now you might be wondering how passion can keep optimistic people positive while they face obstacles.

The thing is that when they face a setback, they don’t give up; instead, they channel their passion to find a solution. 

That’s why optimistic people are more likely to find success and happiness in life.

8) Empathy

“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.” – Alfred Adler

Now let’s take a more emotional perspective and instead of discussing how optimistic people think and act, focus on what they feel. 

We often hear that empathy is a key trait in building positive relationships and creating a more understanding world. 

And I couldn’t agree more.

But do you know what empathy actually means?

Well, it’s about having the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and feeling what they are feeling.

And when it comes to optimistic people, I’m sure that typical optimism has a high degree of empathy. 

They have a natural ability to connect with others on a deeper level, understand their struggles, and support them on their journey.

This is why this quote by Alfred Adler resonates with me so much, not to mention that I consider him one of the most influential psychoanalysts.

This quote perfectly captures the essence of empathy and how it can be a powerful tool for spreading positivity. 

Indeed — when we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and understand their experiences, feelings, and perspectives, it opens up the doors to greater compassion.

The result?

Optimistic individuals have a deep sense of empathy and are able to connect with others on an emotional level.

Still, you should know that empathy is not just about seeing and listening, but feeling with the heart of another. 

And when you have that kind of connection with others, you can create a positive and understanding world.

That’s why I believe that empathy is a critical aspect of their ability to spread positivity and make a positive impact on the world. 

Whether it’s lending a listening ear, offering support, or simply being there for someone in their time of need, optimistic individuals use this personality trait to make a real difference in the lives of those around them.

And, in the end, it’s their empathy that allows them to truly connect with others and find joy in the relationships they form.

9) Flexibility

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James

It might seem a bit unusual, but it turns out that flexibility is another important personality trait of optimistic people.


Because optimistic individuals view challenges as opportunities for growth and not obstacles.

As a result, they can adapt to new and difficult situations.

Most optimistic people around me accept the fact that life is unpredictable. That’s how they find the strength to adjust their thoughts.

In simple words, flexibility allows them to remain optimistic, even in the face of adversity.

What’s even more important, this flexibility also allows optimistic people to be more creative in finding solutions to problems and to be more open to new ideas and perspectives. 

They understand that there is more than one way to approach a situation and are willing to consider different options to find the best outcome.

Think of it like this: 

Imagine you’re trying to complete a challenging puzzle, and you’ve been stuck on one particular piece for a while. An optimistic person would try multiple ways to fit the piece in, whereas a pessimistic person might give up.

How is this possible?

Let’s take a look at my friend, who was facing a problem with their job. Instead of feeling defeated, he decided to approach the situation with a positive attitude and a willingness to find a solution. 

He saw it as an opportunity to learn something new and grow in their career. This made him start to look at different job options, talked to his colleagues and mentors, and guess what?

He eventually found a better job that they loved even more. 

This flexibility allowed my friend to turn a difficult situation into a positive outcome.

And that’s what optimistic individuals usually do for one simple reason — flexibility is a crucial part of being optimistic.

10) Determination

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” – Sam Levenson

Want to know what the main difference is between the thought patterns of optimistic and pessimistic people?

Optimist people just don’t give up. As simple as that.

And now it’s time to introduce the final personality trait of optimistic people, which, as you probably already guessed, is determination.

The truth is that determination is a key personality trait that sets optimistic people apart. 

These individuals have an unwavering belief in themselves and their abilities — they never give up, no matter what life throws their way. 

It’s like they have a never-say-die attitude. And this makes it easy for them to find a way to bounce back from setbacks and challenges.

So, here’s the thing:

The key difference between optimistic individuals and the rest of us is that optimistic people have a “can-do” attitude.

On the other hand, pessimistic people might have a “why bother” attitude, meaning that they don’t see the point in trying anymore.

This is why optimistic individuals tend to be more successful in both their personal and professional lives. They are driven by their determination to succeed and to keep moving forward, no matter what obstacles they may face.

So remember that determination is the fuel that drives optimistic individuals to success, and never give up! Keep going, just like the clock!

critical thinking The power of positive thinking: 10 personality traits of optimistic people

The power of positive thinking

So, after discussing the 10 personality traits that set optimistic individuals apart, it’s time to wrap it up. And what better way to conclude this discussion than by talking about the power of positive thinking?

As you can see, the power of positive thinking significantly depends on optimistic personality traits such as gratitude, empathy, flexibility, or determination. And it’s these traits that give them the ability to handle challenges and obstacles in a constructive and resilient way. 

But let’s take a step back and think about why this positive thinking is so important

Well, for starters, it can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. When you view life through a positive lens, you’re more likely to find the silver lining in tough situations and to feel grateful for what you have.

But what’s more important is that positive thinking also has the power to influence others for one simple reason — it’s contagious.

So, my one last piece of advice is to go ahead, choose to see the good in every situation and watch as your life transforms for the better.

Picture of Nato Lagidze

Nato Lagidze

Nato is a writer and a researcher with an academic background in psychology. She investigates self-compassion, emotional intelligence, psychological well-being, and the ways people make decisions. Writing about recent trends in the movie industry is her other hobby, alongside music, art, culture, and social influences. She dreams to create an uplifting documentary one day, inspired by her experiences with strangers.

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