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Optimism, the engine of resilience, is believing in the hope for a better future. Optimists are fairly good at separating what they can control, accepting what they can’t, and seeing stressors as challenges, not threats.

Benefits of Optimism

  • Better health, recover from many injuries faster
  • Handle stress better
  • More social connections and greater relationship satisfaction
  • Happier, greater quality of life
  • Decreased depression

Improving Optimism

  • Research shows it can be learned!
  • Dispositional optimism – A general belief good things are going to happen, life is basically good. Generally, people are born this way.
  • Explanatory style theory – One’s explanatory style is reflexive and is one’s answers to “what caused that?”. This is the learnable part.
    • Internal vs external, optimists believe things be controlled by themself
    • Stable vs unstable, optimists believe things can change
    • Global vs specific, optimists believe that what is happening is just in this case, not always and everywhere
  • Behaviors
    • Cognitive (i.e. mental) habits of optimists
      • Can identify problems
      • View stressors as a challenge, not just a threat
      • Identify what can be controlled, accept what can’t be
      • Approach oriented, come up with strategies to try
        • Pessimists withdraw
      • Seek out information or help
      • Take action (using that information)
      • Cultivate positive emotions
      • Use humor to cope
      • Have an Exercise routine
      • Eat healthier

Increase Optimism

    • Name optimistic traits as you perform them or see them to build awareness. Explain what you notice to others. Praise the traits and other people.
    • Reframe challenges through explanatory style theory, piece by piece
    • Take action somewhere

Wonder if you already are an optimist? or want to see you amount of optimism grow? Try the optimism survey here.

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