In Arabic, we have a phrase for optimism that literally translates as:

white look

And look means outlook or attitude towards life. So someone who is optimistic is said to have a white look. Is there any similar saying or phrase in English?


One can say "look on the bright side (of life)". It doesn't include the word "white", but there is a connection between "bright" and "white".

It is a verb phrase, and can be used as an imperative:

Look on the bright side! The company lost less money than last year.

or descriptively:

He always looks on the bright side of life. Even when he lost his job he treated it like an opportunity to set up a business.

It was famously used by Monty Python Always look on the bright side of life.

Another possibility is "He has a sunny outlook (on life)".

You should be careful of the risk of cliché. Expressions that are overused become tired and boring. It is hard to use "look on the bright side of life" without bringing the song to mind. Most of the use of "sunny outlook" in writing is when there is a literal use (talking about how the sun can actually change our mood). Writers avoid the cliché when there is no justification for it.

  • It's also possible to say We're heading to the bright days, now? right? – Probably Dec 19 '17 at 16:33
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    @Probably You could, but remove "the". "We're heading towards calmer waters" works better as a metaphor. – James K Dec 19 '17 at 17:00

An idiom in English that specifically relates optimism, perhaps unrealistic optimism, and a specific color is "to look through rose colored glasses." Similarly, "He has a rosy outlook on life." There may be similar usages in English involving "rose," "rose colored," or "rosy" in the same sense. There are related expressions in French like "la vie en rose."

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    Be careful with this one, though! To look through rose colored glasses often implies unrealistic naiveté. – J.R. Dec 19 '17 at 23:38

A very common expression in English is glass half full. It's sometimes used as an adjective:

Tony is a glass-half-full kind of guy.

The expression is derived from a maxim:

The pessimist sees the glass as half-empty; the optimist sees the glass as half-full.

When I type glass half full into Google, it links to a Wikipedia article, and shows this excerpt:

"Is the glass half empty or half full?" is a common expression, a proverbial phrase, generally used rhetorically to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty), or as a general litmus test to simply determine an individual's worldview.

One blogger used this expression to refer to herself:

As I have previously shared with you, I'm a glass-half-full person. I also have the most fun writing when I can add humor or share a funny personal experience.

Another advice column opined:

If you know you're going to be alone during the holidays, see it as a time for solitude, rest and relaxation, and just a break from everything and everyone. In short, change your perspective and take the glass half-full approach.

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