In the US, March is National Optimism Month. So, in the spirit of this celebration, TODAY with Hoda & Jenna invited PepTalk expert Bill Burke, the founder of the Optimism Institute and host of the Blue Sky Podcast, to discuss the art of cultivating a more optimistic, happy life.

Start Your Optimism Journey Today

Bill, who has transformed optimism into both a personal ethos and professional pursuit, shares his practical advice on how we all can lead more positive lives. Bill’s journey into optimism began during an academic fellowship studying the global mental health epidemic, where he identified a pervasive trend of negativity fueled by doomscrolling. His natural inclination towards positivity led him to establish the Optimism Institute, aiming to counteract this negativity. As Bill puts it, "I'm sort of naturally optimistic. I try to accentuate the positive."

Watch the video below, or scroll on to read the key takeaways...

The Benefits of Optimism

The advantages of maintaining an optimistic outlook are substantial, ranging from health to interpersonal relationships. Bill notes, "if you're optimistic, you're going to be healthier. Your cardiovascular disease goes down 15 to 30%, longer lifespans for people with a positive optimistic outlook." He also highlights how positivity can make you a better companion, enhancing social interactions and relationships.

Cultivating Optimism

For those seeking to foster a more optimistic viewpoint, Bill suggests an active search for positivity. "If you walk around looking for goodness and positive things, they are out there. They're everywhere. You're going to see them." This proactive approach, akin to noticing more cars when in the market for one (aka the Bader Meinhoff effect), helps retrain the brain to recognize and appreciate the positive aspects of life.

"If you walk around looking for goodness and positive things, they are out there. They're everywhere. You're going to see them."

Navigating Social Media Positively

In discussing the challenge of doomscrolling, Bill advises, "Turn off your alerts... It's amazing how we are getting alert, and when was the last time you got an alert that was good news?" He emphasises the importance of curating your digital environment to foster positivity, suggesting the deliberate choice to follow uplifting content and disengage from negativity.

Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern

Bill references Stephen Covey’s concept of focusing on one’s circle of influence rather than the wider circle of concern. By directing energy towards areas where one can make a tangible difference, such as personal relationships and community involvement, individuals can effectively expand their positive impact. "If you focus more of your energy on your circle of influence, you'll have more influence," Bill explains.

Bill's insights on optimism showcase how it can positively impact our personal well-being and social relationships. He also provides practical tips for integrating positivity into our daily life. Bill advocates for shifting our focus towards the good, managing our digital presence, and concentrating on our immediate sphere of influence.

Choosing optimism can lead to healthier and more fulfilling experiences, and can help us navigate life's challenges. By embracing it, we can create a brighter and more hopeful future for ourselves.


The Optimism Intistute. Bill launched The Optimism Institute with a mission to inspire people with an optimistic, hopeful vision of the world and its future.

Blue Sky Podcast. Bill's Blue Sky podcast features inspiring leaders, authors, researchers, and big thinkers who are taking on some of our world’s toughest challenges with an infectious sense of optimism. Guests include Life Is Good Co-Founder Bert Jacobs, TED Leader Chris Anderson and Action Against Hunger's Ritah Kabanyoro.

Want to hear more from Bill?

Inspire your team with an optimistic vision of the world and its future — while ensuring a solid ROI — with Bill Burke, speaker, executive, creator, and optimism expert. If you're interested in hearing more from Bill, drop us a line at or send us a message via the chat. You can also call us on+44 (0)2038352929.

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