What Is an 'I Can Do Anything' Mindset?

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With an “I can do anything” mindset, people believe in their abilities, have an optimistic attitude and look forward to creating a good future. At the same time, they are positively impacting their level of happiness and overall well-being.

Let's a take a look at some of the traits of an 'I can do anything' mindset.

What an 'I Can Do Anything Mindset' Looks Like

People who think “I can do anything” think positively about themselves and the world. Believing that things will work out does not meaning overlooking reality nor does it mean you are ignoring problems or whitewashing issues. 

People who look on the sunny side know that with two possible outcomes, one being negative and one positive, they might as well choose the one that bodes well.

Benefits of an 'I Can Do Anything Mindset'

Believing you have agency to achieve and make things happen is powerful. An attitude in which you expect good things to happen and look for good things to occur is also advantageous for your health.

Outstanding benefits to your overall heath and well-being include the following:

Increased Self-Esteem

Self-esteem describes how you regard yourself. It’s your sense of worth and a way to determine if you feel good about and like who you are. With an “I can do anything” attitude, you’re more likely to have healthy self-esteem. That’s because you trust in your abilities and believe you can make things happen.

In recent research, scientists found acts of kindness boosted adolescents’ self-esteem. Scientists conducted the study based on questionnaires from 681 adolescent participants. The scientists’ aim was to determine how self-esteem was associated with acts of kindness towards, family, friends and strangers.

Results showed all acts of kindness improved their self-esteem. Interestingly, acts towards strangers, for example through volunteering, had a greater positive effect than prosocial actions that helped family or friends. The understanding is that adolescents walked away with more of a sense of self-competency after volunteering and giving of themselves.

Greater Levels of Confidence

People with self-confidence are more resilient to stress. They don’t compare themselves to others, perform better and set boundaries to keep themselves healthy.

Positive Future Outlook

When you believe you can do just about anything, you view the future in a positive light. Employing positive future thinking and imagining that someday dreams do come true results in increased inspiration for achieving long-term goals.

Boosted Motivation

While telling someone they’re great might seem to be beneficial, in reality it isn’t. Parents sometimes praise their children this way. Instead of saying, “You’re so smart,” for example, it’s better to compliment them by saying, “You worked so hard on that.”

This way you praise their intrinsic abilities to work diligently. By complimenting in this manner, children and adults understand they can improve. They will be more motivated this way

Longer Life

Optimism is also associated with exceptional longevity. In a recent study, scientist found higher optimism levels were associated with a longer life span (11% to 15% longer on average) and greater odds of exceptional longevity. Exceptional longevity is defined as living to the age of 85 or beyond. That was adjusting for demographics and baseline health conditions, too.

These associations were significant across two independent cohorts and similar in magnitude in both men and women. Because increased health span often correlates with increased life span, their results seem to suggest that optimism may be an important resource in promoting healthy aging and resilience.

What If You’re Naturally Pessimistic?

Pessimists blame themselves or others. In general, they look for and find a pattern of negative events. It’s almost like focusing so much on one bad thing after another creates more bad things.

You can train yourself to be optimistic. Although you might have a natural tendency to look at the shadows and clouds, you can change your mindset in the direction of believing things are possible (within reason).

Here Are 6 ways to Reduce Pessimism:

  1. Identify the negative thoughts behind your behaviors. It could be negative self-talk.
  2. Challenge that erroneous belief that underlies the self-talk
  3. Look at the consequence of your negativity. For example, telling yourself that you’ll never get promoted isn’t making you feel good about yourself or inspiring you to take actions to get ahead.
  4. Energize yourself by realizing that you feel better when you think positively.
  5. Remember your past successes and focus on them.
  6. Practice, practice, practice. It'll take some time to develop a more positive outlook, but you can do it with some time and patience.

While learned optimism is important, you don’t want to deny your true feelings or exhibit fake positivity. That’s not part of a healthy strategy. According to the Cleveland Clinic, positive affirmations will work, but only if they’re genuine.

For example, a positive affirmation you can repeat during a bad situation might be, “This situation isn’t good, but I’m strong and I’ll get through it.” Or “While this is definitely a setback, I’ll bounce back as I’ve done before.”

How to Cultivate an 'I Can Do Anything' Attitude

While not everyone can believe anything is possible, even thinking some things are possible can be helpful. For example, instead of thinking, “No way can I go to the gym four times a week,” think how you can add exercise to your weekly regimen in a modified way. Maybe you’ll go to the gym and walk three times a week.

Consider People in Your Everyday World

If you’re around people who are pessimistic day and night, it’s hard to maintain a positive mindset. Think about the attitude of your family, friends and co-workers. Try to associate more with people who are forward-thinking and optimistic like you.

Remember Your Goals

During challenges, empower yourself by re-focusing on your goals. Maybe you had a setback on a work project, but remind yourself you’re nearing the finish line, it will get done and the project will impact many in a positive way.

Other Things You Can Do to Motivate Yourself

Here are some strategies you can employ that can boost your motivation:

  • Review the steps that you already completed in achieving your goal. This will boost your confidence and self-esteem. For example, if you’re trying to shed 10 pounds, remind yourself that you already lost three.
  • Imagine how you’ll feel when you complete your goal. Some believe in the law of attraction and that you can manifest something good by using positive or cognitive reframing. Luxuriate in the positive feelings.
  • Use future thinking to motivate you. Anticipatory savoring is when you enjoy a future event which obviously hasn’t happened. You benefit when you imagine it. Then you benefit if you experience it and remember it.
  • Practice visualization to see the impact of your goal. Picture the end result as a movie. It will seem like it’s happening now.
  • Let go. For example, if you’re disagreeing with your partner, let go of your argument. Sometimes adding humor and just laughing or tabling the discussion until the next day can leave you both feeling positive.

In summary, here are ways to cultivate an “I can do anything” or positive mindset. This includes ideas discussed above and new things you can incorporate into your life right now:

  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Remind yourself of past successes
  • Use cognitive reframing
  • Employ future thinking
  • Practice visualization
  • Let go of negativity
  • Add positive affirmations
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Learn meditation
  • Stick with a nutritious diet
  • Exercise more
  • Get regular sleep
  • Limit social media
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Administer self-care regularly
3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fu X, Padilla-Walker LM, Brown MN. Longitudinal relations between adolescents' self-esteem and prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends and familyJ Adolesc. 2017;57:90-98. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.04.002

  2. Lee LO, James P, Zevon ES, et al. Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and womenProc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019;116(37):18357-18362. doi:10.1073/pnas.1900712116

  3. The Cleveland Clinic. Do Positive Affirmations Work? What Experts Say.

By Barbara Field
Barbara is a writer and speaker who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.