Optimism involves learning to think positively about the future, even when things go wrong. It’s about looking objectively at a situation and making a conscious decision to focus on the good. This lesson encourages students to illustrate their understanding of optimism, by reflecting on case studies and personal examples. It is important to build students resilience as optimistic people are happier and more engaged, succeed more often, and are better problem solvers.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

SEL Competencies


Social awareness

Relationship skills

Responsible decision-making

Learning intention

Students can recognise that optimistic people are happier, more engaged, succeed more often and are better problem solvers. Optimism skills can be learnt.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will understand that::

  • optimistic attitudes need to involve realistic ideas

  • self-talk assists in developing optimism

  • negative thoughts can be overridden with positive thoughts.

Materials needed

  • Toilet roll

  • Access to the ReachOut.com article 'Self-talk and self-awareness'

  • Access to the ReachOut.com article 'How Sarah beat her negative thoughts'

  • Access to the ReachOut.com article '3 ways to talk yourself up'

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum Health and Physical Education

  • Evaluate emotional responses in different situations to refine strategies for managing emotions (AC9HP10P06)

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and Social Capability:

    • Social awareness

    • Social management

    • Self-awareness

    • Self-management

NSW PDHPE Syllabus

  • Examines and evaluates strategies to manage current and future challenges (PD4-1)

  • Demonstrates self-management skills to effectively manage complex situations (PD4-9)

  • Assesses their own and others’ capacity to reflect on and respond positively to challenges (PD5-1)

  • Assesses and applies self-management skills to effectively manage complex situations (PD5-9)

Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Plan and evaluate new and creative interventions that promote their own and others’ connection to community and natural and built environments (VCHPEP150)

  • Investigate and select strategies to promote health, safety and wellbeing (VCHPEP126)

Show details

Activity 1

Activity: Rolling

15 minutes

  1. Ask students to take some toilet paper from the roll. (Don’t specify how many pieces; let them take as many or as few pieces as they wish.)

  2. Once everyone has a piece/pieces of the toilet roll, ask them to think of a thought they have had today. Share these with the class (e.g. ‘I’m going to do well in my maths test today’, ‘I’m such a slow runner, I can’t finish this jog’, or ‘I’m going to try my best; it’s all I can do’) for each piece of paper they have in their hand (e.g. three pieces of paper = three thoughts to share).

  3. Explain to the class that, in this lesson, they will be exploring the thoughts that people have about themselves – or ‘self-talk’. Positive self-talk is the key to developing optimism.

Activity 2

Class discussion: Talking to yourself

15 minutes

Distribute the article Self-talk and self-awareness

  • What influences our thinking/self-talk?

  • What is the impact of positive versus negative self-talk?

  • Why is positive self-talk important for developing optimism?

Activity 3

Activity: Student reflection

15 minutes

  1. Read the article 3 ways to talk yourself up

  2. Students answer the following questions:

    • Describe a challenging situation you faced where self-talk was involved.

    • Was your self-talk positive or negative? Give an example.

    • Did you do anything to try and change your thinking? What worked?

    • What would you say if a friend were in this situation?

Activity 4

Activity: Sarah's story

15 minutes

Share the story How Sarah beat her negative thoughts


  • What can we learn from Sarah's story?

  • What strategies did Sarah use?


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