New Non-Fiction Book: PRACTICAL OPTIMISM by Sue Varma, MD

Sue Varma, MD

This is a short sneak peek at a wonderful new non-fiction book Practical Optimism: The Art, Science, and Practice of Exceptional Well-Being by Sue Varma, MD. The release date is 2/20/24 by Penguin Random House. Thank you Avery for the advanced copy. I couldn’t put it down!

I can’t wait for you to dive into the 8 Pillars of Practical Optimism!

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Dr. Varma years ago at a health & medical communications conference. Her genuine and kindhearted nature stood out like a pillar of light. She exuded pure joy. It’s not surprising that her new book focuses on optimism!

Dr. Varma’s book, Practical Optimism is a story of her personal journey, and a self-help book for those looking to help improve their lives.

It’s not a book that tells you what you should do, instead it’s a book that shows you how to take action. 

No one is immune to stress — not even Dr. Varma, a practicing psychiatrist and clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at New York University (NYU) Langone Health. She shares her personal journey of how stress impacted her life and manifested into physical symptoms. To manage her stress she began practicing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Now, Dr. Varma helps her patients by using the methods she learned. 

In Practical Optimism, she gives you behavioral strategies to help you gain control and enliven your sense of purpose.

Practical Optimism

The concept behind her book, “Practical Optimism,” took root during Dr. Varma’s time as the first medical director and attending psychiatrist at the World Trade Center Mental Health Program (WTCMHP) at the World Trade Center Healthcare Center at what was then called NYU Medical Center/Bellevue Hospitals. Dr. Varma cared for survivors of the 9/11 tragedy. In that challenging environment, she witnessed both devastation and emotional resilience in equal measure. This experience prompted her to ask profound questions: How do some individuals not only survive but thrive when faced with profound challenges? How can we optimize the aspects of life we can control while bolstering ourselves against stressors?

Dr. Varma gives you the tools and techniques you need to take action to help you thrive. Whether it’s your personal, career, relationship, fitness or financial goals — Dr. Varma helps you create an action plan and mindset to live wisely to make a positive difference in your own life.

Each chapter of Practical Optimism focuses on one distinct pillar of the program. These pillars can double as an eight-step action plan, starting with having a vision/goal/idea or intention (purpose), ending with making it reality (practicing healthy habits) and navigating whatever you may come across in between.

What are The 8 pillars of Practical Optimism?

Pillar 1: Purpose. Identify and invest in authentic goals that energize and inspire you.

Pillar 2: Processing emotions. Deepen your emotional wisdom and awareness.

Pillar 3: Problem-solving. Marry intuition, logic, and emotional regulation and become a masterful problem solver

Pillar 4: Pride. Challenge negative thought and behaviors and use self-compassion to develop a stable, intrinsic sense of self-worth.

Pillar 5: Proficiency. Build confidence in your abilities and improve on them.

Pillar 6: Present. Cut mental clutter, ward off worry, and take back your time.

Pillar 7: People. Develop a relationship practice with yourself and others to reduce loneliness and cultivate belonging and connection.

Pillar 8: Practicing healthy habits. Use Practical Optimism and other science-backed hacks to create and sustain new habits

Practical Optimism is filled with many pearls of wisdom. It’s about cultivating a sense of purpose and pursuing passions. It’s about overcoming self-comparisons, and developing healthy habits. It’s about protecting your peace, and living joyfully.

Practical optimism is not just about becoming resilient, bouncing back from stress-it’s thriving in the face of it.

Sue Varma, MD

Dr. Sue Varma, MD, PC, DFAPA, is a distinguished psychiatrist and cognitive behavioral therapist based in New York City. With over two decades of private practice experience, Dr. Varma has made significant contributions to the field of mental health. Notably, she served as the pioneering medical director and psychiatrist for the esteemed 9/11 mental health program at NYU. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Varma holds the position of Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at New York University (NYU) Langone Health. Her accomplishments have been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), where she was honored as a Distinguished Fellow, the highest honor bestowed upon its members.

Dr. Varma has garnered national acclaim as a sought-after medical commentator, appearing on major news programs and networks. Her expertise has been instrumental in guiding the public through various mental health challenges, from trauma and resilience to stress management and relationship issues. Dr. Varma can frequently be seen discussing breaking news on the morning shows including the Today Show, CBS Mornings and GMA, as well as prime time specials and news documentaries. In addition to her media contributions, Dr. Varma is a captivating speaker, engaging diverse audiences with her messages of inspiration, compassion, and hope. From C- suite executives to healthcare professionals, educators, and the general public, she imparts valuable knowledge on topics such as self-compassion, psychological safety, work-life balance, and women’s mental health.

Throughout her career, Dr. Varma has received numerous prestigious awards for her groundbreaking work in mental health education and advocacy: two Sharecare Emmy awards (including an inaugural Sharecare Emmy), the Ivan Goldberg Award for Outstanding Service and a Mayoral Proclamation. Notably, she was recognized as one of the world’s top five leading health experts by Global Citizen for her contributions during the pandemic.

Dr. Varma’s integrative approach to mental health, encompassing the 4 Ms of mental health, empowers individuals to boost their mood, mastery, and sense of meaning in life. Dr. Varma’s forthcoming book, “Practical Optimism: The Art, Science and Practice of Exceptional Wellbeing” (Penguin Random House, 2/20/24), anticipated worldwide with multiple translations, offers valuable insights into promoting optimal mental health and wellness. She believes that physicians have a duty to not only take their patients from a state of dysfunction to function, but also from functional to optimal. Dr. Varma is an avid traveler and has visited fifty countries over five continents and counting!

Connect with Dr. Varma on social media @doctorsuevarma IG | Twitter | LinkedIn | FB and explore her selected media interviews at

Take a look here, we’re thrilled that Dr. Varma is one of our leading health and medical contributors!

More to come on Practical Optimism — stay connected (and new site coming soon)!

Where can you purchase Practical Optimism?


Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

Penguin Random House



And, for more options — check out Dr. Varma’s website.

Stay connected!


Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn

You May Also Like