Optimism & optimistic explanatory style

Optimism optimistic explanatory style2

One such reframe we can begin implementing into our mindset is something negative, stressful, surprising happening for us rather than to us. It’s a simple tweak, a subtle difference, but the reframe has a substantial impact.


Another reframe might be saying “I get to” instead of “I have to.” Coming from a place of gratitude for the things on your to-do list, whether that’s because they yield abundance, purpose, food on the table. This subtly shifts you into an optimistic explanatory style.


Additionally, when we use optimistic explanatory style, we can isolate events. Instead of deciding that one bad event means all events in our lives are bad, we can isolate the experience to one, singular event. We are optimistic that the next time will be different, or we find the piece of data in that event that helps us grow.


When we think about this kind of work, we realize that words are incredibly powerful. The words we use to speak about ourselves, about our circumstances, about our relationships; they all take on important meaning and have tangible implications if used where they shouldn’t be.


And so, we can begin cultivating this power by choosing our words wisely, by storytelling to others and to ourselves from a standpoint of optimism.

Nortje, A. (2020.) Optimistic Explanatory Style: 5 Examples of How to Foster It. PositivePsychology.com

Peterson, C., Steen, T. A. (2009, July.) Optimistic Explanatory Style. The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology (2nd edn). DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195187243.013.0029