Is It Possible to Stay Optimistic in Tough Times?

Posted on: February 17th, 2020 in mindset by Pat Mesiti | 8 Comments

How is your year going? I hope you have had some good news. I hope you’ve made progress at work, your relationships are happy and you feel that you are contributing something worthwhile to the world. I will admit that conditions are very challenging this year. The corona virus is just ghastly in China and has really knocked around the Australian tourism industry. The truth is that it’s hurt a lot of industries in Australia. The drought is also taking its toll and the fires have been horrible. I am sorry if you are having a tough year. I’m glad the fires are out and there is rain. I really hope corona virus is soon brought under control. I guess what we need to ask ourselves is how do you stay positive when times are hard. How do you stay optimistic in tough times?

A lot of people are born optimists and will say to themselves – this is just a phase, and will soon pass. Other people are born pessimists and instead tell themselves – this is the end of the world! Most of us are somewhere in the middle – the glass is both half-full and half-empty. In these challenging times, I’d like to give you a few tips on how to stay positive.

Give yourself time to grieve

You do not have to feel unrelenting happiness when things are difficult, however it is helpful to quickly move from feeling sorry for yourself to looking for practical solutions, ie getting on with the job.

I do think it’s okay to acknowledge your hurt, acknowledge that you have been injured but do not be overcome by self-pity. I say allocate some time to sit down and lick your wounds. If you are feeling really awful, allocate 30 minutes every second day to just sit down and feel how hard done by you are. You can even write out a list of negative things that have happened to you. Really sit there and feel hurt. But make sure that you have put a timer on, because once that 30 minutes is up, you have no more time for feeling sorry for yourself.

Whenever a thought about how hard this is comes into your head, you need to tell yourself to stop it, stop the self-pity because this is not the time. Remember you are alive and kicking, so get on with it. Find ways to improve the situation.

If you are not feeling any better after having these 30 minute slots of ‘feeling down’, then think about getting some professional help. Go to your GP and ask for a referral to a psychologist.

Look for ways to improve the situation

I know it is cliché, but you need to stop seeing the situation as ‘a problem’ and instead start seeing it as a challenge. Next, brainstorm and find ways to make things better. Instead of dwelling on the worst outcome, ask yourself what else might happen? 

Remember that staying positive is a choice you can make, and it will improve your situation. Positivity is also a skill. The more you practise it, the better you’ll get at it.

Take a long-term approach

Stop and ask yourself, where will you be in a year from now, two years, ten years? Will you recover from this? Will you regroup? Will it even matter in 10 years from now? Could you even learn and grow stronger from this situation? Understand that feelings of stress won’t last and life goes on.

Do some volunteering

I wrote another blog earlier this year on facing challenges, and I said that even if you can’t solve the problem then aim to do good in other areas. I suggested volunteering. The truth is that I can’t develop a vaccine against corona virus, but I can volunteer to help others doing it hard, like the homeless or the disadvantaged. There are so many organisations out there that could do with some extra support. Have you thought about volunteering in a local op shop that raises money for a charity? Would you enjoy helping people try on vintage clothes? Then do it! Sign up.

Step outside yourself

Sometimes it is easier to find a solution if it’s not your problem. Pretend that someone else is facing this challenge – a good friend. How can you help them? You could even pretend to be someone else, perhaps the wisest, most-practical person you know. Often we are better at helping others than ourselves. Make the situation more objective and less personal to you. Also you will be more likely to be kind for yourself and not self-critical if it is not your problem!

Accept that you can’t fix everything

You know the prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things. When you feel stressed, make changes to things that are within your control. What is the point of worrying about what you can’t control or fix? You need to keep being happy. Sometimes it’s good to spend some time having fun and making a difference. It’s great fun to run a charity event with friends and raise money for a good cause. Look at how much fun the people manning the charity sausage sizzle stall at Bunnings have.

Show gratitude

Regardless of how tough things are, remind yourself to be grateful for what you do have. Work to be mindful of positive things and be grateful for every little thing. Write down one event each day for seven days that makes you happy. Send one random thank you email or text to someone every day, either personal or professional. 

Remember that tough times don’t last. You will survive and sometimes hardship can help you grow. As they say, there is no education like adversity.


The Proven System To Unlimited Wealth and Prosperity


Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.


  1. Gerry says:

    Reading or listening to that fantastic book: LOOK WITHIN- Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, who’s is ALL about how to easily & simply create LASTING happiness, inner peace and contentment in ones DAILY life, 365 days of the year, EVERY year!!

  2. Geoff Wade says:

    Pat, looking forward to the Gold Coast event at the end of the month. If these are your words of wisdom then we are in for an amazing event.

    A wise man once said to me: “Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement”.

    I am looking forward to reaping the benefits of your judgement.

  3. Joseph C Boylan says:

    Hi Pat. You might not want to expose my response but here goes anyway. That saying is “God give me the strength to change the things I can; the grace to accept the things I can’t change and the wisdom to know the difference.” once quoted by Margaret Thatcher. I have experienced eight deaths this last year; four of them close relations including my own brother in November 2019, from cancer he need not have had. But the Pope came to visit us here in Romania where I came on the International Aid Programme in 1991 …and stayed after financial ruin in England. I am still looking for a way to grow my wealth for my new family’s sake here as I haven’t made it anywhere near millionaire status yet, even after we met at Andrew Reynolds’ Boot-camp at the Excel in 2018 and I lost another 500 quid to your subscription because I was just too late! We were setting up e-commerce Alibaba to Amazon until a month ago when the virus hit and we don’t know our next steps yet. God knows why all this trouble has emerged this last year but as I also say: ‘If God knows then maybe we should ask him!’ So I keep listening to Maria radio if you know it. It is all over the world now, yes even in Protestant UK since last November!! So another thing I tell myself and all those who will listen is that we have got rid of atheistic Communism thank goodness; Fascism has also gone lets hope; Nazi-ism has has gone thank God and now Capitalism is collapsing and all this in around 100 years or so. But the Church has lasted at least 2000 years and has always emerged throughout all these ‘isms’ to give us the courage we need to get over our depressions. Try to call up apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Europe in recent times in Google Images. There is a vast number of such heavenly visions which show up, the
    majority of which have never been confirmed by the Church. Lets hope that should give us all confidence about where we are headed now.
    PS Like to help me sell my book about ‘How to deal with the Coming Economic Collapse.’ I can’t get any sales on the ‘Net yet and I don’t know why!
    Best to you from Joe Boylan B.A. and ex-pat in Romania

  4. Alan says:

    I think you have to stay positive that things will improve, and try in what little way you can to influence things for the better. Even if that little way is just offering support to people who are suffering at the moment.

  5. PETER STEWART says:

    Spin everything. Look for and find something positive in every situation. Truisms are brilliant for this, For example: as I write, today is the 19th of February 2020 and I can declare, with absolute certainty, that today will be the best 19th of February 2020 that I will ever experience!
    WE can adapt this principle to any, or, every day and it will be true every time.
    Please excuse the paraphrase but, in essence, Einstein said: “The most important decision that we each have to make is this: Is this a safe or dangerous universe?”
    – Our experience will follow out of whichever decision we make!
    Perception is everything.

  6. Melysa says:

    I like your suggestion about 30 minutes, Pat. It is not possible to be positive for every second in a sad time. It is okay to feel emotions, but we also need to somehow pull it all together so that we can function and do not cause everything to go pear shaped. IN saying that, it is not always possible to save ourselves from the inevitable crash if things go wrong. The best we can do at those times is hold our faith and rebuild from there. Right now this is where I am. Twice I have built from nothing, and failed more times than that, and this time I am different and so are my opportunities. I have to be much more creative. My most frustrating thing is I have not been able to get to your meeting things yet. It is forcing me to think of the silliest but most likely possible ideas with my qualifications and experience with people. It makes me wonder, “Will it work?” and THAT is how we can get through the tough times, one decision at a time. One day, one project, one page of reading, at a time.

  7. Joy says:

    Some very good, inspiring advice. You just have to think in a bad situation everything happens for a reason, it is going to go up from there and get better, if you get out your own way.
    Positivity always wins. Positive thinking = positive outcome.

  8. Stephanie Potter says:

    There is so much truth and wisdom in what you say Pat. Setting a time aside for self pity is a fabulous idea as it means that the self pity shouldn’t eat away at you since you don’t have the time, and outside of that slot it is not the time. This leaves us plenty of space to be positive and work on moving forward. I have always said ‘there is a solution to every problem, you just have to find it’ and this basically agrees with what you are saying Pat. Many thanks for your inspirational words.

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