Celebrate National Optimism Day on a Budget

Is the glass half empty or half full? Optimism, a feeling of hopefulness or confidence about the future, has many health benefits. Still, only some find it easy to be optimistic, which is why National Optimism Day exists. So how can people celebrate National Optimism Day on a Budget, and what would this entail?

National Optimism Day celebrations are very budget-friendly because most entail a change of mindset and way of thinking rather than a monetary requirement to become more optimistic.

Learn about the history of National Optimism Day and some fun, free activities that anyone can do to celebrate optimism in all its forms.  

A History of National Optimism Day 

Optimistic organizations first emerged in the late 19th century and were meant to help people pursue their dreams positively. They promoted “leadership, talent, and prosperity” through special programs and events.

One of the organizations rose through the ranks and became the premiere optimist group: the Optimist Group of America, now known as Optimist International. They wanted to celebrate optimism and decided to push for an Optimist Day. It was initially planned for April 1 but was later changed to the first Thursday of February.

The first National Optimism Day kicked off in 1909, and ever since has been a way to bring out the best in youth, communities, and individuals across the United States.

Benefits of Being Optimistic

Why dedicate a day to celebrating optimism, though? A National Library of Medicine study found a positive correlation between optimism and physical and mental well-being.

Optimistic people were more “resilient to stress” and had better-coping strategies than pessimistic people, which also helped mitigate symptoms of depression and physical health issues. 

Some of the essential benefits of an optimistic mindset were:

  • Setbacks are seen as temporary rather than permanent obstacles that can’t be overcome
  • Strengthens an individual’s persistence and willpower 
  • Increased self-esteem 
  • Optimists know how to strike a balance between positive and realistic thinking.

Being optimistic does not mean that everything is perfect all the time. On the contrary, optimists realize that life is complex and challenging, but it shouldn’t stop them from pursuing their goals or dreams.

Budget-Friendly Activities for National Optimism Day 

Optimism International suggests several different activities to celebrate National Optimism Day. While individuals can donate to optimism organizations or purchase products that make them feel more hopeful, the following activities all boost optimism for free!

Start a Journal

Writing in a journal for a few minutes daily boosts optimism, at least according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Journaling about things that bring gratitude or even something positive that happened brings joy and helps people cultivate a more optimistic mindset. 

Experts also suggest writing out some accomplishments, even if they are small. This builds self-esteem and confidence, which optimistic people feel more than pessimistic folks.

Even writing about negative things is beneficial. It helps the mind sort through feelings and gets them out in the open. However, bottling everything inside can adversely affect sleep, heart health, and depressive thoughts.

Do Not Be a Critic

We’ve often heard the phrase, “You’re your own toughest critic,” which can be true. People are more likely to cheer on others for their accomplishments but put themselves down for not being “good enough” with their pursuits. 

Psychology Today has found that self-critical people do so that they can be perceived as more in line with what is considered “good” by society’s standards. Plato and Aristotle both said that self-criticism could be helpful because it forces people to think about their limitations and biases.

However, being self-critical often gets out of hand and causes more harm than good. So on National Optimism Day, try to be more compassionate towards yourself and understand where negativity comes from. Usually, it stems from trying to please others instead of pleasing yourself. 


Optimist International has several locations throughout the country, and they encourage people to volunteer their time on National Optimism Day. Volunteering has been shown to release endorphins, or those feel-good hormones, which can make people feel more optimistic about society and the path that humanity is working towards.

If volunteering is fun, it becomes an activity that’s looked forward to rather than dreaded. Psych Central notes that optimistic people believe the future is bright because they believe something pleasurable is coming. 

Volunteering can make a difference in the community and create more pathways to forming relationships with others. In addition, groups of people that come together for a common cause are often happier and more satisfied with their lives, which ups the optimism scale. 

Encourage Everyone

We’ve delved into being a support system for ourselves, but it’s also essential to encourage and cheer for others. Nobody likes narcissism, but it’s contagious when a person is wildly supportive of others.

In some cases, as with award season, you might be up for an award with your peers. If you have high expectations for the award, it can feel not good if you lose. However, even if you don’t win, having a positive outlook on the winner can be a success. Rooting for your

Do this in life. Refrain from questioning whether someone deserved an award or accolade. Instead, support them wholeheartedly and share their good feelings.

Tune into the Senses 

Another way to bring more optimism into the world is to pay attention to the senses. Humans have five senses, but often they’re taken for granted. An easy way to feel happier is to notice what is being eaten, seen, or heard. Have a child-like sense of wonder at textures and smells. This makes for a more mindful and optimistic way of living. 

Similarly, noticing feelings can also have the same effect. Even feelings that are more “negative” should be noted. Stop and take a moment to think, “This is how it feels to be angry,” or “This feeling of joy is so nice. I should try to cultivate it more.”

Taking moments to pause and appreciate the feelings, sights, and sounds of being human is fascinating and often cultivates a sense of positivity in one’s life. You can even incorporate exercise into this way of thinking. Consider yoga or power walking as compatible options. In addition, you can turn your positive feelings into a workout at your local gym.

Be Aware of Whom You Spend Time With

The company that people keep significantly impacts their thinking and how they move through life, so sometimes it’s worth taking stock of who is around. For example, Forbes says that spending time with toxic individuals can affect individual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and not for the better. 

If a person is known to be pessimistic, try to limit the time spent with them. If this isn’t realistic, attempting to steer the conversation toward more positive or neutral topics can make a huge difference.

Reframing thoughts or adding a positive spin to something another person says is also a reliable way to counteract pessimism. Instead of thinking negatively, try to think of positive aspects. 

Avoid the News if You Can

One of the biggest causes of negativity and pessimism is the news. From wars to violence to politics, we are more connected than ever but stressed. Setting a time limit is good practice, so the news isn’t on 24/7.

One fun thing to do is to intersperse happy news with more serious content. For example, the Dodo posts cute animal stories, and the Instagram account, Good News Dog, delivers uplifting news worldwide.

Create boundaries regarding the news, such as saying it’s okay not to know everything or choosing to read an article but not read or respond to comments. When things feel out of control, focus on controllable things, such as what to eat or when to go to bed. These things help with overall optimism instead of drowning in negativity. 

Practice Realistic Thinking, Not Negative Thinking 

The last tip is to practice realistic thinking rather than negative thinking. Optimism does not entail thinking that everything is perfect and there are no problems. NBC says that being locked in a “fantasy” is not helpful. Instead, an optimistic person can keep realistic thinking at the forefront of their mind. 

With realistic thinking, a person can keep their optimism in check by coming up with tangible, actionable steps toward supporting their goals and aspirations. It’s different from negative thinking because an individual actively thinks of ways to move forward rather than giving up and saying all is hopeless.

For the next National Optimism Day, remember these ideas to celebrate. No money needs to be spent, but your mindset and ways of life will radically change!

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