What better time of the year to have an optimistic point of view than during the holidays. While the birth of Jesus is a time for celebration, some find it difficult to be cheerful due to personal disappointments, tragedy or bad memories from years past. That’s why this article is dedicated to optimism and how to achieve it!
How to Learn Optimism
“When we explain bad events as the result of permanent, pervasive, and personal traits (like self talk that we’re a lousy person) dejection and giving up follow. The more permanent the trait, the longer dejection will last.” —Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., author of Learned Optimism
But Seligman’s ABCDE Model can change that by following these steps:
1. Adversity: Rather than be depressed and give up, look at adversity as a challenge that can lead to success.
2. Beliefs: Change your beliefs so they don’t take the form of personal, permanent and pervasive factors, otherwise it’s easy to give up and become paralyzed.
3. Change: Face adversity by changing from a passive, sad or angry response to an invigorated, cheerful response.
4. Disputing: What you say about yourself, to yourself, are learned habits. Much of the skill of dealing with setbacks consists of learning how to dispute your own first thoughts in reaction to a setback.
5. Energization: The desired outcome is being self-aware of the feelings you have after you dispute negative thoughts. Do you feel relaxed and more confident?
3 Ways to Define Learned Optimism
Optimists are easy to spot. This article in Psychology Today explains:
“Optimists are likely to see the causes of failure or negative experiences as temporary rather than permanent, specific rather than global, and external rather than internal. Such a perspective enables optimists to more easily see the possibility of change.”
That means optimists explain challenges by believing they won’t last long, they are limited in scope, and are caused by outside factors or other people rather than themselves. They don’t avoid taking responsibility when warranted, but don’t habitually blame themselves for everything that goes wrong. They don’t get down on themselves and wallow in negative self-talk.
Reasons to Cultivate Optimism
But what about those who see themselves as realists and don’t believe in adopting a “rose colored glasses” attitude? You’ll hear them say, “I’m realistic. I prepare for the worst and that way I won’t be disappointed. But it doesn’t have to be an “either or” perspective. Optimists don’t ignore the possibility of risks. They know things don’t always turn out right and will expect the occasional let down. Many have a Plan B ready to go. Knowing they can’t anticipate every outcome, they make a choice to resolve the issue and adapt to a new reality.
There are plenty of other reasons to cultivate optimism. You’re more likely to keep friends, be healthier, live a longer life and grow to be a better leader. Here’s the proof.
“Americans want optimists to lead them.” —Martin E. P. Seligman
We are drawn to people who have positive things to say, including an attitude that problems can be solved and obstacles overcome. Gloom and doom does not create hopefulness, which is something we need more of given the national challenges we face. A “we can do this” perspective is always welcome. People respond better to a smile than a frown.
So during this season of light when some things don’t work out right, check your perspective and follow the ABCDE Model above to build optimism into your life. You will feel better, reclaim your energy and accomplish more.
Website I Read Often
Readers Digest online: rd.com
Useful articles sent via email with titles such as:
– 10 Forbidden Places No One Will Ever Be Allowed to Visit
– Why You Should Be Putting Paper Towels in the Fridge
– 13 Things That Could Get You Flagged by the TSA
– Gift Card Scams: What They Are and How to Avoid Them
– It’s True: Amazon is Sharing Your Wi-Fi With Your Neighbors
…and many others
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D. “Seligman draws on more than twenty years of clinical research to demonstrate how optimism enhances the quality of life, and how anyone can learn to practice it…These skills can help break up depression, boost your immune system, better develop your potential and make you happier.” Fascinating book with plenty of practical how-to’s about how to change your inner dialogue using his “ABCDE” Model and other useful techniques.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. This 493 page biography provides a “colorful and intimate narrative…the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist and Founding Father.” If you thought you knew all there was about Benjamin Franklin, this book will surprise you. It also reveals the obstacles the Founding Fathers faced during the early days when our nation was born. It’s a long book, but an easy and often entertaining read.
Inspiring and Entertaining Quotes
“Thankfully, perseverance is a great substitute for talent.” —Steve Martin
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no use being a damn fool about it.” —W.C. Fields
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” —Winston Churchill
“I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world” —Norman Vincent Peale
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” —Augustine