Don't Worry, Be Happy

Don't Worry, Be Happy - Cheryl Woolstone Counselling Blog

Do you live on the sunny side of the street?

Do you live where the grass is always greener?

You know that you are an optimist when you consider a setback or a disappointment to be temporary and changeable.

Are we born with an optimistic temperament? Or can we learn to live on the sunny side of the street?

The Bounce Back

Throw a cat out the window and it lands on its feet. That is the visual for the optimistic person.

The eternal optimist can bounce back from difficulty inspired, energized and open to possibility.

Jeff Garten, author of  The Mind of the CEO, interviewed 40 of the world’s most successful business executives. Garten found every single one of them to be extremely optimistic.  These executives all had the ability to know that despite the difficulties of the present moment that they would find a way to move to a point of success.

The Optimism Guru

Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, found through his twin research that lifelong optimism can be explained in a few ways:

  • 50% may be inherited
  • There is a high correlation between your mother’s level of optimism and your own. Your father’s level is irrelevant.
  • Successes in life produces optimism.
  • Wanting to be an athlete and being born clumsy will create many setbacks, sequences of failures lead to expectations of failure.

Seligman believes that anyone can learn to be optimistic. The challenge is identifying your negative thought patterns and disputing those thoughts as if you were debating with an external foe. Challenge the veracity of your thinking.

Seligman advocates Flexible Optimism, which factors in some calculated risk rather than blind faith in a positive outcome. Optimists seem to have an ability to look on the bright side, even if that means distorting reality.

Optimism is not a panacea, it does not produce wisdom, compassion or a direct line to the truth. So perhaps there is more to consider…

What About Happiness?

The idea of developing optimism may be limited until we factor in the notion of happiness.

We can increase our potential for joy by getting involved with people, causes and ideas. The hallmark of depression and pessimism is self-absorption.

In my experience, full resolution of depression is not likely until the self-absorbed state is shifted to contributing to the outside world.

I have witnessed many clients turn around an experience of futility and pessimism with a focus outside of themselves, the only way to diminish self-absorption.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 12:00 PM and is filed under Thoughts and Therapy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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