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Happiness vs. Optimism

#happiness #optimism #womeninleadership Oct 24, 2022

Podcast Episode 109 

Hello there, my friend!  

My conversation with Karyn Seitz (guest on podcast Episode 108 ) got me thinking.  

What’s the difference between happiness and optimism (or intentional optimism), and can one exist without the other?

I came to the conclusion that - wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s what we’re gonna talk about today. 

Of course, you know me, by now… let’s start with some definitions:

According to the dictionary:

Happiness: The state of being happy. Hmmm… not super helpful. How about some synonyms: contentment, satisfaction, cheeriness. 

Optimism: hopefulness & confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. 

So on first blush, optimism is an attitude or mindset, and happiness is a state of being. 

Karyn's description of happy is “fulfilled,” which gels with satisfaction, and I promise you, when I am satisfied, I usually end up with a silly happy grin on my face. I’ll bet you do too. 

So it appears, that happiness, that state of being satisfied, fulfilled and content, is something you could achieve on a daily basis.

Just ask Gretchen Rubin, who went on a year-long quest documented in her book The Happiness Project, in which she researched various techniques and theories for increasing happiness to see if she could become happier with their help. It’s rather enlightening. She maintains that she did (and continues to) become happier as a result.  She has since followed up with other books like Happier at Home, and Better Than Before, in addition to a blog and podcast dedicated to teaching what she’s learned. It’s all good stuff.

But how do you get to that state of happiness? 

You see, arriving at a place of satisfaction and fulfillment is an individual process. There are books galore on how to “find happiness,” philosophies and religions that promise it, but ultimately, it’s something unique to each individual.

Satisfaction, per se, is completely subjective, based on expectations, individual standards, personality types and adherence to cultural norms. So happiness for you, might not look the same if I were to define it for me. It is the ultimate individual expression of who you are or want to be.

So I ask again, how do you get there?

That’s where optimism comes in - or for my purposes, Intentional Optimism 

Unless you’re brand-spankin-new to me or my podcast  - and if you are, well then WELCOME! - you’ve heard me say that "we all live unique and different lives, and while what we DO is different, Intentional Optimism is HOW we do what we do. It’s the attitudes and mindsets we employ and embody to live out our own goals and dreams with excellence." 

The attitude or mindset of Optimism can be just as simple a decision to choose to see the future in a more hopeful light as it is to choose to be satisfied with who you are, where you are, in your life, resulting in happiness. 

But that question comes back up doesn’t it?

How do you do that?


Well, you're not likely to be able to do it all at once… trust me, I didn’t (and if I’m honest, still haven’t) 

Now you see why I call it INTENTIONAL Optimism.  

I couldn’t start right at “hope” (the first piece of Optimistic) and work my way through all the nuances of each of the six tenets. Nope. I think, for me, it probably started with courage. Just being willing to try something new, get out of my own comfort zone and challenge my fears. And boy did I have a bunch! 

The one thing I did have going for me, though, is that the one tenet (attitude, or let’s call it trait) that comes the most naturally to me, is being Intentional. I may not have crossed the starting line fully understanding my purpose, but I knew it existed, and was determined to find it.  

Along the way I picked up resilience, developed an understanding of my desire to create and produce, dove deeper into my sense of wonder and love of beauty. I learned wisdom the hard way (don’t we all), mostly through NOT using my words wisely, and losing the respect of others before I could figure out how to turn around and head in the opposite direction.

I’m still learning in every area of every tenet, but working with the attitudes, toward the mindsets, is what keeps me moving forward in growth, every single day. 

I didn’t set out looking to create a personal growth philosophy or plan - I just wanted to be happy. 

The philosophy of Intentional Optimism is the result of several decades of working hard toward that coveted state - being happy. 


You see?! Happiness is a state of being, and optimism is a way of thinking. 


Can one exist without the other? 

I don’t think so. 


I think we all need guidelines to keep us on the path that will get us to our own happiness - and I also believe that when we’re on that path, the resulting hope and confidence (or, optimism) gives us at least a taste of happiness, the satisfaction of knowing we’re headed there. 

See how they’re intertwined?  

While the individual journey to happiness can be accomplished any number of ways, this is how it looks for me: 

I use the tenets of Intentional Optimism to inform and mold my attitudes, thinking patterns and actions, as the directions and signposts on my own road to happiness.

The beauty of this process is that I experience satisfaction, fulfillment and accomplishment (ie. happiness) with every new discovery along the way. 

Each new habit formed, each new mindset shift, perspective change, limiting belief overcome - every discovery. With every single tiny goal achieved, comes fulfillment and satisfaction… happiness.

When some say “the joy is in the journey,” this is what they mean. 

This is good news for you, my friend… if you think happiness is only something or some state you might achieve somewhere in the future when certain circumstances fall into place, you’d be wrong.  

Happiness and Optimism are inexplicably connected in such a way that they fuel each other. 

Hope and confidence in the future fuels your ability to be more satisfied and fulfilled in the present… to be happy with who you are, where you are, and where you’re going. 

Ultimately, practicing the attitudes and mindsets of Intentional Optimism will help you achieve your goals and dreams, layering on the satisfaction and fulfillment - happiness.

If you’re not yet familiar with all six of the Tenets of Intentional Optimism, I have a free resource for you, and I invite you to start employing the attitudes and mindsets in your life. There’s a link at the end of this post, to get you on your way.

My passion is to equip and empower YOU, the next generation of female leaders. To help you learn to think critically, create imaginatively and lead effectively - in any situation, team or organization. My hope is that the information I bring you here on this podcast will inspire you to move forward and take action with confidence and strength, to lead in your own unique and beautiful way.  In your personal AND your professional life. 

Where do you begin?

Well, the other set of guidelines (I usually call them guardrails) for your journey, is understanding your Core Values. I have a mini course that will help you with that right now. It’s called “Uncover Your Core Values - Live in Alignment With Your Own Non-Negotiables!” This simple 4-step process will provide your guidelines to live with full authenticity. Understanding your non-negotiables is the first step to knowing who you are and where you’re going. 

The link for the course is also at the end of this post. Give yourself the gift of clarity, as you determine where you want to go and who you want to be.

What is your biggest takeaway here?

Do you consider yourself "happy?"  Are you interested in starting your own personal growth journey employing the attitudes and mindsets of Intentional Optimism?

Grab the complimentary resource or get started on uncovering your core values.

Take that first “next best step” to get you on the road to personal and professional success and fulfillment - happiness.  

Until next time.



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