Optimistic Thinking Works

Seriously, I used to wonder why the horses in the back of the field kept running when they knew the race was over and they were at risk of injury.  I mean it’s a million dollar racehorse and it’s running flat out with ten other horses to come ninth or whatever.  This was before I realized optimistic thinking works.  Then I slowly came to realize that it is never about winning the race, it is about playing the music of the event.  It’s not about the journey, either, I thought that for a while too.  It’s about playing the music through until the end, regardless of who is listening.Optimistic Thinking Works

Here’s a quote from Martin Seligman

“I think that what you do matters a great deal. That you are not a passive responder to stimuli. You are an initiator of plans. A lot of your troubles were brought on by yourself. You are responsible for them. And the good news in that is it also implies that the way out is not something that someone is going to bestow on you, it’s something you are going to do yourself.”

Simply put, when confronted with scenarios where they were powerless to alter an unfavorable element confronting them, most people would simply cease trying to impact the situation. It’s called giving up, or resigning.  Or becoming ambivalent.  I get this a lot as a Life Coach Newcastle.  Even more to this, when positioned in a brand-new scenario with a different unfavorable element, they would make no effort to change it from the beginning. They had actually simply “found out” to accept that they were helpless and made no attempt to do anything about it.

Being Optimistic in Life

Not all canines responded in this way – he observed that around one in three would shrug off unfavorable circumstances and continue acting to improve their lot regardless, and did not seem to carry the negative associations of one experience into future ones.  It’s why we say optimistic thinking works.

Seligman subsequently extended his research studies to the field of human psychology, where he ended up being fascinated how people might react in completely various methods to the same scenario, or stimulus – some positively and some adversely. What he discovered was that the response is mainly determined by how we describe or interpret exactly what occurs to us internally, or our “explanatory design”.

Optimism is Important

Optimism – responding to obstacles from an anticipation of individual power:

  • Bad occasions are temporary problems
  • Isolated to specific circumstances
  • Can be overcome by my effort and capabilities

Pessimism – responding to problems from a presumption of individual helplessness:

  • Bad occasions will last a long period of time
  • Will undermine whatever I do
  • Are my fault – are based on blame instead of responsibility

What Seligman found is that just as we can succumb to learned vulnerability, equally we can establish “found out optimism” by controlling our thought processes in terms of how we constantly analyze the important things that occur to us daily.  It’s almost part of the definition of Life Coaching.

“The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe that bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe that defeat is just a temporary setback or a challenge, that its causes are just confined to this one case.”

Optimistic Thinking Works

To puts it simply, do we react in a cynical way (my fault/ these are permanent occasions) or an optimistic method (momentary obstacles/ these are isolated experiences).

By deliberately concentrating on the favorable aspects of our everyday experiences we can establish optimism by building favorable associations with the past, instead of negative.

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It’s about writing your daily reflection as though obstacles were merely speed humps, not devastating crises. This is another powerful way to demonstrate with a flourishing life that thinking optimistically works.

One simple exercise he suggests to establish this practice is exactly what he calls “Three True blessings” – merely jotting down three things that went well today and why.

Seligman accepts that pessimism is a valuable thinking ability to use in some scenarios – particularly when the expense of failure is big or possibly catastrophic. As he says, “You really don’t desire positive pilots.”  More proof that Optimistic Thinking Works.

In other words, we have a choice in how we react to what takes place to us, and this seems to be his main message – that a lot of us cannot realise or accept this, and act helplessly as a result