When researchers studied the mindset and behaviours of pessimists versus optimists, they created a shorthand called the 3 P’s to summarize the pattern they found.

Essentially, pessimists tend to make a negative event or setback feel catastrophic by:

perceiving it as pervasive (“everything in my life sucks”)

permanent (“things will always be like this”)

personal (“it’s my fault; I am terrible”)

Whereas optimists do the opposite by perceiving it as:

isolated (“the rest of my life is fine”)

temporary (“today was a bad day but tomorrow will be better”)

impersonal (“the other team got lucky and won”).

The researchers also found that a pessimist could learn optimism by noticing when their mind is catastrophizing using the 3 P’s and then proactively reframe the event as isolated, temporary and impersonal.