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Secrets of Success

The Optimistic Mind

Why are some of us more optimistic than others? How do we stay optimistic? The research in the field of behavioral science called positive psychology is quite interesting. Here are some of the findings:

1. Optimists get paid more, are healthier, happier, live longer, and are better at dealing with uncertainty and change.

2. Optimism is a skill that can be learned and developed.

3. We are more effective if we focus on not being negative rather than trying to be positive. The goal is more to reduce pessimism than to increase optimism. Optimism is not so much about the power of positive thinking as it is the power of non-negative thinking.

4. Optimists and pessimists are not two points on a continuum they are separate and distinct ways of focusing.

5. Researches guess that about 25% of your optimism traits are programmed into your DNA. Early upbringing and the effects of life’s ups and downs shape the rest.

6. Children are an especially optimistic group.

7. Females are more optimistic and more pessimistic than males because they tend to have a greater emotional range.

8. Optimism ebbs and flows during the day and can also be affected by fatigue and illness.

9. The secret of staying optimistic is in how we explain positive and negative situations to ourselves. We all have a voice only we hear that tells us how to interpret what is happening around us. The optimistic voice affirms us and predicts good outcomes. The pessimistic voice criticizes us and warns of trouble ahead.

10. By the time we’re around eight years old the ways we interpret our world become habit.

11. Researchers have identified key aspects of the optimistic mindset that allows an optimistic person to maintain a sense of control:
* They see problems as temporary
* They externalize problems (When troubles occur, optimists protect their self worth by looking for all the factors that contributed to the situation rather than simply beating themselves up)
* The look at difficulties as being limited and avoid generalizing or exaggerating
* When good events happen, they find internal reasons for their success—they were prepared, they were focused, they were confident, etc.
* They believe success breeds success.

12. The key aspects of the pessimistic mindset:
* They accuse themselves of being the root cause of their problems
* They see bad events as permanent
* They exaggerate the extent of the damage a problem will cause
* They deny credit when good fortune occurs
* Successes are viewed as temporary with little long-term effects
* They practice using the “c-words”- complaining, commiserating, criticizing, and “catastrophizing.”

13. Approximately 70% of our negative thoughts occur without us consciously perceiving them as negative. We need to pay attention to our thoughts and remember the most effective way to deal with negative thoughts is by not letting them take a foothold in the first place.

14. Being able to reframe an experience in order to see the good in a bad situation is a powerful trait of the optimistic mind.

15. Hope is essential to the optimistic mind. In a hopeful state we see possibilities and solutions rather than limitations and problems. If you doubt the importance of hope, all you need do is think about how you feel when it slips away and you find yourself in a state of hopelessness.

16. Gratitude and forgiveness are two other states that are important to maintaining an optimistic mind. As previously stated, the best way to build optimism is by eliminating negative thinking. Gratitude allows us to focus on what is positive in the present and forgiveness allows us to have a hopeful future.

17. Focusing on our strengths also helps promote optimism. When we feel competent and confident, it is virtually impossible to have pessimistic thoughts.

There’s much more research on this fascinating subject. If you’d like to learn more about how you can bring an optimistic attitude to your organization, I’m a phone call or email away.

Oh, and one more thing, I hope you decide to have a great day! (Most optimists do)

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Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

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