The One Mental Habit That Made Warren Buffett a Billionaire

Updated 05/08/19
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

The few people who do manage to reach billionaire status arrive at that magical 10-figure number via many different career paths. But a simple look at the daily habits of some of the world's wealthiest people will reveal more than a few commonalities. For Warren Buffett, the chairman and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway and the second-wealthiest person in the United States, relentless optimism has been a driving force behind his success.

"Stop a second and consider the possibility that Buffett doesn't have a sunny outlook because he's rich. Instead, he's rich because he has a sunny outlook," writes Inc. of his immense success. "Buffett combines his huge optimism with some very hard work and dedicated study." Namely, he learns as much as he can about the markets he's investing in and won't do so unless he fully understands it first. "Combine Buffett-level optimism with Buffett-level passion and hard work, and then you'll be unstoppable," Inc.


Bill and Melinda Gates seem to agree with this sentiment. In their annual foundation letter addressed to Buffett himself, Melinda writes, "Optimism isn't a belief that things will automatically get better; it's a conviction that we can make things better," she asserts. "We see this in you, Warren. Your success didn't create your optimism; your optimism led to your success." 

Buffett's letters to shareholders are just one of the many manifestations of his optimistic attitude. Data scientist Michael Toth recently did a sentiment analysis of said letters dating all the way back to 1977, comparing the number of negative words used to the number of positive words. "In the overwhelming majority of Buffett's letters since 1977, positive words have outnumbered negative words, often by substantial numbers," writes Inc. While this may seem insignificant, having a positive outlook on life has been linked to a host of benefits; optimism can help you live longer, build your skill set, reduce stress, and more.


Pick up a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking for more, and read up five simple ways to trick yourself into becoming a positive thinker here.

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