We’re all probably familiar with Warren Buffett for his financial success, but money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness. So what does one of America’s richest businessmen credit as the key to happiness? Optimism.
Buffett is well known for his optimism, but data science consultant Michael Toth decided to dive deeper and assess just how big of a role optimism plays in Buffett’s business life. He performed a “sentiment analysis of the text of Warren Buffett’s letters to shareholders from 1977 to 2016” and found that overwhelmingly, optimism plays a larger role than pessimism in his shareholder communications.
Only five of the letters contained more negative words than positive, and those were all linked to major global crises like the 1987 Black Monday market crash and the Great Recession of 2008.
Buffett is so well known for his optimism that Melinda French Gates even directly praised it once: “Your success didn’t create your optimism; your optimism led to your success.” Buffet himself has said that his billions “can’t buy anything for me that I want. If they did, I would buy it.”
How to become more optimistic
How can you mobilize the power of optimism to improve your own life? Reading The Optimist Daily is a good place to start, but INC writer Marcel Schwantes has some more tips on shifting your outlook.
Give back to others
We’ve written before about how volunteering is good for your health. That’s because helping others, fighting injustices, and collaborating with like-minded people improves your outlook on life and boosts your personal sense of positive influence in the world. Lending a helping hand to those in need or even just a small act of kindness for a stranger will make you more optimistic.
Journaling about what you’re grateful for will improve your attitude, and writing about setbacks will better equip you to handle future challenges. Taking just five minutes a day to write down your thoughts, feelings, victories, and concerns will set you on a path to optimism.
Journaling about gratitude will help you further appreciate life’s great moments, and eventually, you’ll learn to take this grateful mindset into your everyday activities. Stop and pause to appreciate joyful little moments in your day. This can be as simple as appreciating a beautiful flower, receiving a hug from a loved one, or enjoying a delicious sandwich.
Choose to be happy
Research has shown that choosing positive behaviors like forgiveness, generosity, and empathy actually yield long-term psychological benefits. Optimism is a positive feedback loop, so the more you focus on the good, the more good you will see.