WOW Word-Of-the-Week #286: Optimist

January 17, 2010 by  

Optimist – one who looks at the bright side of a situation.

OptimistAre you an optimist or a pessimist? Is the glass half full or half empty? Or, like engineers say, do you see it as being twice as big as it needs to be?

Dr. Ranit Mishori’s article, “Why Optimism is Powerful Medicine,” featured in Parade Magazines StayHealthy section says, “Most people can identify themselves as one or the other. But the fact that you’re naturally a pessimist doesn’t mean your disposition is unalterable.”

Dr. Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania says, “Pessimists can be reformed by learning new ways to think. Resilience training teaches people how to think positively. The key is learning to recognize your thought patterns. Then, by identifying negative patterns of thinking, you can learn to challenge them and replace them with positive alternatives.”

“Don’t expect instant results, though. Resilience training usually requires work with an experienced therapist. I have seen people who apply themselves massively change pessimism into optimism, and do so lastingly,” say Dr. Seligman.

“I write a lot of prescriptions – for pills, creams, and physical therapy. One thing I can’t dictate a dose of – though I wish I could – is a positive attitude. I’ve always suspected that patients who look on the bright side tend to handle medical problems better than others,” says Dr. Mishori.

This week focus on being an optimist. Are you able to look at the bright side of a situation? Are you feeling under stress a lot of the time? How important is your health?

Reader Responses

Good stuff Susan!  Dr. Martin Seligman is my hero!  I reference him frequently in my  “How to Turn Negativity into Possibility” workshop and more recently in my #1 program “How to Stay Positive and Focused in Uncertain Times.”  I always say that the title of one of his first books “Learned Optimism” is good news in itself; it suggests that we can LEARN to be more optimistic.  (As you point out). I haven’t read his newest book “Authentic Happiness,” but I refer everyone in my audiencea to his website  where you can actually take various quizzes to find out:  How Optimistic are you? How Grateful are you? etc.. Take care, Sarita

You know, I’ve been accused of being the eternal optimist here at work. For me, the glass is always half full. Now, I do work with a young lady who is intelligent, well-educated, but cynically pessimistic. And she continues to keep her mindset because, she says, that she has had experiences where things went badly – mostly because of things out of her control. Let’s face it, there are many things in our lives that are out of our control but we do the best we can with what we do control and make the best of it. Many times, these people are a little more self-involved than others. The young lady to whom I referred is single, lives by herself, and is unattached. There is always a flip side to an unfortunate situation. If after everything happens we continue to moan “Woe is me,” we will never be able to live happily. As much of an optimist as I am, there will be many days when I am not happy, joyous and free, but I will not let that ruin my overall positive disposition. Things could be worse, in many instances. So, let’s put on a happy face and look at the bright side. Living as an optimist is less stressful on our hearts and tends to rub off on others who see us smiling. All of us optimists have to be living examples for those who really need what we have and want. Great word, Susan. Have a great week. Take care. “Warrior” Joe