Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


7 Habits of the Most Hopeful People

Persistent, present-focused, and surrounded by positive people.

Key points

  • High-hope people have a positive outlook and are persistent.
  • They set small and large goals and surround themselves with positive people.
  • High-hope people focus on the present and are confident. They are self-reflective and grateful.

Hope is emerging as a viable scientific positive emotion worthy of direct investigation. Unique among all the positive emotions, hope requires some degree of dissonance, difficulty, negativity, or uncertainty to become ignited. If there isn’t something awry, we don’t need hope.

This makes naturally hopeful people interesting to study and learn from. In studying high and low-hope people for the book Learned Hopefulness, an intriguing pattern emerged about differences between the two groups concerning their thought habits. Thoughts follow patterns that have outcomes that show consistency. High hope people have sustainably better physical and mental well-being. They also tend to live a longer and happier life.

What we know about high-hope people compared with their low-hope counterparts is that they see and respond to the world differently. They use their thoughts to focus on what they can control. If you want to start thinking like a high-hope person, here are ways their thought habits differ.

1. High-hope people have a positive outlook.

High-hope people strive toward a positive outlook. They see the glass as half full, not half empty. No matter what life throws at them, they endeavor to find a way to see the silver lining. This positive attitude is one of the things that allows high-hope people to be so successful in life. They don’t let the circumstance define their emotional response.

In addition to having a positive outlook, high-hope people are also creative problem solvers. When faced with a challenge, they don't give up easily. Instead, they come up with creative solutions that help them overcome obstacles in their way. In chicken-egg fashion, the positivity helps the creativity, and being creative feeds the positivity. They don't dwell on the past. Instead, they invest their creative energy in the future. They hunt for the good.

2. High-hope people are persistent.

The level of our hope can have a profound impact on our lives, so it's important to understand that high-hope people have passion and zest that funds their energy. What makes this passion viable and dynamic is that there is a degree of persistence, follow-through, and sheer grit that accompanies it. They are optimistic about their future and believe in possibilities. They see challenges as opportunities to grow and learn, rather than insurmountable obstacles.

This type of follow-through of passion and perseverance are the keys to why many high-hope people are successful. They not only bounce back from setbacks—they seem to bounce forward and keep going despite obstacles and challenges. They believe possibilities can happen when they put in the work.

3. High-hope people set goals and work toward them.

Goal setting is only as important as the action you take toward achieving your goals, and high-hope people do both. They know that without a clear goal, it's easy to get distracted and lose focus. They don't just let life happen to them—they proactively make decisions, set goals, and take action to move forward in their lives.

Whether a big dream or a small goal, high-hope people typically have something they're working toward. What’s more, they usually visualize their goals and create conditions where they set themselves up for success.

One way this gets done is through micro-goals. A micro-goal uses short time periods that set reasonable goals to be accomplished. Getting three emails out in the next 15 minutes or preparing lunch in the next 20 minutes are examples. Setting goals, taking action, and setting themselves up for success creates an upward spiral of engagement and accomplishment.

4. High-hope people are those who surround themselves with positive people.

This is one way they help to keep a positive mindset. This doesn’t mean they cannot tolerate someone’s difficulties, negativity, or struggle. But it does mean that they tend to spend more time associating with people who share an optimistic and proactive attitude. While not blocking themselves from nay-sayers or folks who have a more pessimistic viewpoint, people with high hope maintain a balance. They do not let themselves get overwhelmed by the negativity of others—or the world.

Knowing the different perspectives will allow them to cultivate a realistic plan forward. As they take in multiple, sometimes difficult, perspectives, they are compassionate. They care about others and want to help make the world a better place for everyone.

5. High-hope people focus on the present.

High-hope people tend to focus on what’s in front of them. They don't dwell on the past or worry about the future. Instead, they stay focused on what's happening right now. This allows them to stay positive and take action toward their goals.

Additionally, high-hope people are always learning. They're constantly trying to improve themselves and their skills. This helps them maintain a sense of hope because they know that they can always get better, and when they are learning they must be in the present. It is, like many important elements in a hopeful person’s life, a balance. They are both content and ready to grow.

Finally, high-hope people are grateful for what they have. Gratitude keeps them appreciative and grounded in the moment. They recognize that even though they may not have everything they want, they're still lucky enough to have a lot of good in their lives.

6. High-hope people are confident.

While believing in yourself is important, highly hopeful people are able to forgive themselves as well. This is a unique combination because this type of confidence allows for not being perfect, making adjustments, and forgiving others. It also means they are willing to take reasonable risks to support their growth. Although they believe in themselves and their abilities, they are generous with their time and resources and celebrate small victories to stay engaged and motivated.

7. High-hope people are self-reflective.

Perhaps more than most, high-hope people are grateful, reflecting on the good fortune in their life. Since gratitude is always for something that has taken place, this natural process allows them to see the world through a grateful lens. Mindful of their thoughts and emotions, they also tend to be trusting and generous, believing that most people are good-hearted. Hopeful people know that failure is inevitable and it’s important to learn from those experiences and move forward with positive momentum. This is where their capacity for self-reflection is so valuable. Learning from mistakes means viewing failure as an opportunity for growth rather than a measure of one’s self-worth.

Being more hopeful is a characteristic of people who are successful, healthy, and vibrant. If having more hope is appealing, then thinking, acting, and feeling like high-hope people is the way to go. To elevate your thinking habits pick one of the seven and make it a focus for yourself each day of the week. Pick one of the seven habits each day and practice, acting as if you were already hopeful. This is one of the easiest ways to change your thought habits and bring more hope into your life. For more information, please go here.

Facebook/LinkedIn image: MJTH/Shutterstock


Tomasulo, D. (2020). Learned hopefulness: The power of positivity to overcome depression. New Harbinger Publications.

More from Dan J. Tomasulo PhD., TEP, MFA, MAPP
More from Psychology Today