Learned optimism: 3 things happy people do differently

Merve Yılmaz
4 min readAug 28, 2022


Photo by Jane Slack-Smith on Unsplash

Everyone wants happiness, easy and enjoyable life. Unfortunately there is a lot we do not have control on. Sometimes, there might be an unexpected events in our life. These undesirable events do not always have to be big losses or devastating situations. Even very small situations can harm us psychologically.

Some people can stand strong in devastating events. Their psychology is often little or not affected at all. Moreover, there are ones like me who can be injured in the little incident, and affected her/his whole life.

For example, I can let a friend’s word affect my whole week. Maybe a word said with good intentions can make me cry for a week. So why can I be unhappy so easily when there are people who can stand stronger in worse status?

I searched a lot for the answer to this question and what I could do differently. In this article, I will tell you how you should look at bad events, what is learned optimism and how I approach things now.

The father of the concept of learned optimism, American psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman. He even published a book of the same name. According to Seligman, it is necessary to strive for optimism and to see solutions, possibilities and advantages in every situation encountered in life.

So, being optimistic takes effort and willpower. You have to work in it. From this point of view, an individual can learn to be optimistic. In order to learn this situation, it is necessary to fulfill some conditions.

1. This too shall pass

When we encounter a bad thing, we focus on that thing. We think that “my life is over, and everything is ruined”. But the truth is how we approach the situation we have been through affects us the same way.

We should try to focus on “it too shall pass” rather than the situation itself. Probably you’ve been there before. I am sure that it is not your first breakdown. You have been through this and think that if you could do once, and you can do it again.

I still try to change my mindset in this way. Attaching this to your life isn’t easy when your old traumas are back to life unexpectedly. Yet, with enough practice, everything gets better. Getting rid of cognitive distortions is also one of them.

2. Mistakes belong where they are made

Don’t put the weight of one failure on all part of your life. For example if you failed math exam, it doesn’t mean you failed all of lessons. Also, a one bad realtionship doesn’t mean all relationships that you will be in is going to go bad.

Do not generalize. Think about why you are feeling bad but try to be realistic. Do you feel bad about a mistake or think it cost your whole life?

I have been there. I have felt like a failure just because I chose the wrong career for me. Now, I am excepting that my career is just part of my life. It doesn’t define me. Also, I can change it if I want. Everything’s control in my life is the end with me.

3. Mistakes don’t define my personality

We try to achieve some things in this life. Sometimes we take risks. There might not be a good ending all the time. However, the reason things went not good isn’t you. There might be situations out of your control.

The same startups with the same aim might end up differently even if they do everything the same. The world is changing, sometimes we lost because it wasn’t the time.

Besides, these people who blamed themselves tend not to accept their success. I also did that too much. When I achieve anything, I thought that’s luck or everyone could do that. Bu if you want to be happy accept your success. Its all come from you.

According to Seligman’s theory of learned optimism, necessary skills can be learned to get rid of helplessness. Learned optimism is believing that there is a way to succeed and seeing the failures or negativities experienced by the individual as a temporary situation. At the same time, it is to develop solutions and produce moves against the problems experienced.

I talked about what lessons you need to study to be optimistic. It’s your job to do your homework and repeat your lesson. I hope you get the happiness you want and seek as soon as possible and more importantly you will always stay there. I wish you the best.

35 days ago, I started a 50-day challenge. One of my goals is in this process to share a post on Medium every day. I would appreciate it if you would support me and accompany me on my journey. I hope to see you around.



Merve Yılmaz

• UX Designer •Istanbul Technical University •Top writer in Self Improvement, Health, Life Lessons & Life.