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Optimism and Happiness

We received a wonderful expression of optimism from Professor Laurie Santos and have added this resource page as a result.  Most of the quotes including Victor Perton's are sourced from "Optimism: The How and Why"

Professor Laurie Santos

"What makes me optimistic is all the scientific work we have about what makes us happy. Even though we're in a challenging time, the science gives us lots of practical strategies for feeling happier during a pandemic. Simple things like using technology to connect with others, taking time for a quick walk outside, or even being grateful for what we do have can be powerful techniques for thriving in the face of this crisis. I'm so thankful that the research gives us hopeful solutions."

Victor Perton

Is happiness the underpinning of optimism or is optimism an underpinning of happiness?  It doesn’t matter - we know happier people tend to be more optimistic.

Laugh Like an Optimist

Curt Fowler, Values Driven Results

“Optimism and gratitude are the keys to a happy and successful life. They are antidotes to stress, greed and fear. Whenever you feel any of those negative emotions coming on you replace those thoughts with gratitude. Your gratitude will lead to optimism which leads to happiness which leads to success.”


Victor Perton

An optimistic spirit can bring significant benefits, including happiness, joy, active longevity, better health including lower risks of cardiovascular disease, better sleep, greater resilience, stronger relationships and increased self-mastery. 

Andrew Stoner, Former Deputy Premier NSW

“I know I am blessed to be an optimist. My lofty goals in life have been shaped by optimism, it lifts me off the canvas when the inevitable hard knocks come, and it enables me to experience happiness in the little things in life.”

Victor Perton

Research shows that religious beliefs and practices are related to greater optimism, higher life satisfaction, happiness, hope, purpose and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Optimism, Spirituality and Religion

John Addison, Success Magazine

"People are naturally drawn to leaders who see the world through a lens of optimism. Nobody wants to work for a manager who thinks the organization will fail. No one dreams of being mentored by a boss who doesn’t believe in his or her company’s ability to overcome hardships. People want to be led by those who see the world with hope, excitement and happiness."

Cultivate Realistic and Infectiously Optimistic Leadership


Mark Williamson, CEO of Action for Happiness

"Authentic leaders are realists as well as optimists, able to show vulnerability, admit mistakes and to compromise where necessary for the greater good."

Pablo Cilotta, IACCM

"My optimism and happiness are enhanced through expressing gratitude and being passionate when learning new things, meeting new people, building relationships based on trust, confidence and building bridges."

'Julia' on author Mason Deaver

“When I think of Nathan, I think of warmth. Of reds, and oranges. But most of all, I think of yellow. That just seems like such a Nathan-y color. Happiness, joy, his optimism, that smile.”


Steve Wozniak "The Woz”, Co-founder, Apple Computer

“H = S - F.  Happiness = Smiles - Frowns. Find ways to smile and enjoy life, but don’t frown. Don’t argue. Don’t let small things get to you. Just figure out the best path to move forward constructively. When you see pessimists, be glad that you are better with your optimism. Spread this thinking about optimism to young people. After about age 23 your personality is settled and you can’t change it just with logical reasoning.”

Jim Spigener

"Leadership does not exist without optimism. Optimism is the secret to motivation, happiness and self-worth!"

Inspiring Voices of Optimistic Leadership

Victor Perton

"Exercises and practices which increase and maintain optimism include expressing gratitude, using more positive language and focusing on sharing happiness. "

Practise Gratitude

Kate Ashmor

“Optimism brings with it a level of happiness and belonging that negativity and pessimism never can. Looking on the bright side, looking ahead, brings people together, creates a cohesiveness that is infectious.”

Optimists on their Optimism


Victor Perton

Ancient meditation practices like the “Loving Kindness” meditation and related compassion meditations are particularly beneficial.  Compassion meditation strengthens the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the brain’s circuits for optimism, joy and happiness.  The benefits are apparent right from the beginning of meditation practice and they increase with time spent.

Meditate to be More Optimistic

Nina Greig-Towers, The Future Business Council

“Not being optimistic about your work, your team or about you illustrates that something major is failing or there are deep failures in your work. Whatever it may be to be a leader is to give hope, happiness, education, motivation and so on. Not being optimistic doesn’t allow you to believe in the impossible, thus your team never striving for the impossible.”

Victor Perton

Never underestimate the power of a smile.  We know that smiling stimulates brain patterns which reinforce feelings of happiness and optimism.

Smile Like an Optimist

Michelle Gielan, Author of Broadcasting Happiness

"In the field of positive psychology, we define optimism as the expectation of good things to happen and the belief that behavior matters, especially in the face of challenges"


“She was a vibrant fountain of happiness and optimism.”

On Marilyn Smith Gattis


Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D.

People with optimistic explanations of life generally feel happier and more energized to cope with obstacles, seeing them as challenges rather than failure experiences. Optimists are more likely to analyze whether setbacks are situational, then are able to develop plans to remove obstacles to their goals. Pessimists are more likely to view life problems as personal failures, blame themselves, feel unhappy and give up trying to change.

Diane G. Tillman, Living Values Author

“Optimistic leadership is very needed at this critical juncture in the world. While some governments and many NGOs are moving toward positive solutions to the environmental and the plethora of social challenges, other governments and radical groups are engaged in blatant injustice and violence. Optimistic leadership generates hope; it nourishes the belief that all will be well. This belief is important for emotional wellbeing; it fuels greater cooperation and harmony in the community and workplace with tangible benefits in productivity, health and happiness. But optimistic leadership must be paired with values to be sustainable. Optimistic leadership paired with guile and egocentric selfishness deceives over time, generating mistrust, cynicism, and hopelessness, fear or hate. Optimistic leadership paired with respect for others empowers. I feel we need leaders who deeply understand the importance of inclusion and equality. A visible commitment to the values of peace, respect and equality help ameliorate the feelings of exclusion and bitterness which fuel violence and unite us to work for the common good. Optimistic leadership based on respect for all creates hope, positive solutions, a sense of belonging, and humanizes us all.”

Foster Optimistic Leadership


Nick Smit, International Affairs Expert

“I am optimistic for the future of the world’s population as rising education standards, nutrition, disease control, birth control and employment, particularly in hitherto impoverished regions, are leading to a better life for more people. I am worried by the tendency of many in the developed world to want everything to stay the way it is now, e.g. to stop replacing native growth with rural development and rural by urban development. People seem to be happy live on cleared bushland but refuse to allow anyone else to clear bushland to live on. A major challenge for leaders of the future is to find the right balance between development and conservation which will be key to improving global living standards and thus, happiness. Too many in the developed world are fearful of change at a time when the rate of change, particularly in the case of technological change, is accelerating rapidly.”


Stephen Ibaraki, Futurist and Entrepreneur

“In collecting more than 200 attributes that define success with entrepreneurs, there are four that stand out—one is optimism. When looking at the related area of happiness, prior to 2000, it was believed that people were born with a happiness set point—immutable thus setting your course for the future. However, when studying Tibetan monks and their brain activity, it was discovered that this could be raised through technique. The same is true of Optimism; you can increase your optimism by reframing everything into opportunities or key lessons for growth. This is similar to stress hormones, they are produced in relation to how you frame workload and challenges—think optimistically about opportunities and skill growth—the stress levels go down thus improving your life quality. Finally, there is this definition of success related to Grit most recently defined by psychologist Angela Duckworth which I’m modifying based upon my experiences:

Talent x  hyper effort = skill

Skill x hyper effort = achievement

Achievement x passion x perseverance x optimism (squared) = Grit applied over long-term goals = Success”

Salman Farooqi, Artist, Pakistan

“Over the last 20 to 25 years, I have been an optimist and a believer in life. My works are, consequently, optimistic, bright and cheerful. I do not wish to convey sadness through art and I strive to depict beauty, energy and vitality that is not readily visible in everyday scene.  My paintings are designed to be celebrations of happiness, positivity and cheerfulness.”


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