The first global survey by The Centre for Optimism has found the government, the economy, business conditions and consumer confidence are all missing in action as sources of optimism. More than 500 respondents from 26 countries cited life experience, mindset, family, friends, faith, gratitude and young people as their main sources of optimism.

The Centre for Optimism’s first on-line survey asking the open question “What makes you optimistic?” was completed in February 2020 and received responses from 26 countries. The definition offered to survey participants was “Optimism is an expectation that good things will happen and that things will work out in the end.”

The results are in line with contemporary academic and medical research on what makes people optimistic. Life experience provides people with the wisdom to put the ordinary anxieties of life in context.  Surrounding yourself with positive relationships, family, friends and young people helps build optimism. Gratitude is also seen as a powerful underpinning of optimism as is faith.

Asking yourself and your friends ‘what makes you optimistic?’ is a good start. Surrounding yourself with positive people is a key to success.  Even Meghan, Duchess of Sussex says ”it’s so important to surround yourself with people who are grounded and really optimistic.”

Gratitude exercisesmeditation and spirituality are all powerful underpinnings of happiness and optimism.

“Recently published research from Harvard, Mayo Clinic and others show optimism is a key to healthy longevity and mental health.”

Chairman of the Centre, Robert Masters, said the results of the survey throw out a clear challenge to government and business. “Most surveys ask specific questions about confidence in government and the economy.  Yet when people are asked what makes them optimistic, government and business don’t feature in the results,” he said. “In public life, there’s a prevailing pessimism and cynicism that is turning many people, especially young people, away from democratic institutions and systems.

“People have an expectation of realistic and infectiously optimistic leadership.  They are yearning for that direction and confidence in the future that provides them with hope and optimism.

“They are currently being ‘drowned with negative views and thoughts and this is being abetted by social media. The challenge to our political and business leaders is to provide confidence and hope from their leadership.

“Unfortunately, the ‘He said, She said’ Punch and Judy show of modern politics provides little space for our contemporary leaders to shine as optimistic leaders and inspire.  Their language is often seen as negative and demeaning. This needs to be turned around.”

Background: The Centre for Optimism was established in 2019, headquartered in Melbourne with an international advisory board.   It asks people “what makes you Optimistic.”  In its workshops and roundtables, it helps organisations foster realistic and infectiously optimistic leadership.

In 2019, The Centre for Optimism interviewed over 4000 people around the world, from heads of state to people digging ditches in India asking the same question: “What makes you optimistic?”  Their comments are published on its website www.centreforoptimism, on social media and in publications.