Enjoy your life. Change your Point of View.
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr
If you’ve placed third in a writing contest, will you jump for joy and push for better results the next time or will you be discouraged and find an excuse not to join again?
Rate yourself on a scale of 1-5
Do you get discouraged easily?
Do you get depressed more than you want to?
Do you fail more than you think you should?
In life, you are always filled with choices. You may opt to have a pessimist’s view and live a self-defeated life or you may decide to take the optimist’s route and take a challenging and fulfilling life.
Pessimism, however have been linked to higher rates of depression. Surprisingly, it affects middle-aged adults the same way it hits younger people. The mean age of onset has gone from 30 to 15. It is no longer a middle-aged housewife’s disorder but also a teen-ager’s disorder’ as well.
Does it really pays to be an optimist? Decide for yourself. Here are some helpful hints!
Optimists expect the best
The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events, which will last a long time and undermine everything they do, are their own fault.
“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.” ~Winston Churchill
The truth is optimists are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world. What differs is the way they explain their misfortune—it’s the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case.
Certain types of beliefs set off a pessimist way of thinking and the good news is, its changeable behavior!
- Optimists tend to focus on and plan for the ‘problem’ at hand.
- They use ‘positive reinterpretation.’ In other words, they most likely reinterpret a negative experience in a way that helps them learn and grow.
- They won’t say “things will never get better,” “If I failed once, it will happen again” and “If I experience misfortune in one part of my life, then it will happen in my whole life.”
- Positive expectancies of optimists also predict better reactions during transitions to new environments, sudden tragedies and unlikely turn of events.
- If they fall, they will stand up. They see opportunities instead of obstacles.
People respond positively to optimists
- Optimists are proactive and less dependent on others for their happiness.
- They find no need to control or manipulate people.
- They usually draw people towards them.
- Their optimistic view of the world can be contagious and influence those they are with.
When the going gets tough, optimists get tougher
- Optimists typically maintain higher levels of subjective well-being during times of stress than do people who are less optimistic.
- In contrast, pessimists are likely to react to stressful events by denying that they exist or by avoiding dealing with problems.
- Pessimists are more likely to quit trying when difficulties arise.
- They persevere. They just don’t give up easily, they are also known for their patience
Optimists are healthier and live longer
- Medical research has justified that simple pleasures and a positive outlook can cause a measurable increase in the body’s ability to fight disease.
- Optimists’ health is unusually good. They age well, much freer than most people from the usual physical ills of middle age.
- And they get to outlive those prone to negative thoughts.
So how can you develop a more optimistic outlook and behavior pattern?
Try using your ABC’s to disrupt the pessimist cycle of thinking.
A: Adversity (the event that triggers an emotional response)
Your boss called and said he wants to speak to you in his office
B: Belief (what you think about the event/adversity/trigger)
You automatically go worst case scenario, it can’t be good, he sounded mad, he’s going to fire you, life is unfair, why you, etc…
C: Consequence (how you feel about what you think- the emotional response)
Now you feel tense, worried, scared, jittery, sick to your stomach, which gets worse because you start visioning being unemployed, having a hard time finding a new job, losing your home, fighting with your spouse, etc…
Step 1: Realize that the connection between ABC is real, see and accept that there is a connection and that it operates always.
Step 2: Become aware of how you connect the A, B, C in your mind. We all connect them differently. You need to become aware of how you process them.
Step 3: now that you are aware of ABC, now yoi must change your habitual beliefs that follow A (Adversity). Once y
ou become aware of your patterns, you can now watch for your specific responses and change them. We have 3 ways to change them.
- D= Distraction
- D= Disputation
- D= Distancing
Sometimes we just need to distract ourselves from our harmful pessimistic thoughts. These are short-term fixes. You have thought-stopping techniques like ringing loud bell or snapping a rubber band on your wrists.
There is attention-shifting to a different, unrelated topic or maybe set a time for later where you can spend time ruminating on the adverse event. You can even set a time to write about it later as well.
A more effective approach with long-tem success would be disputation. This is when you argue with your belief on the triggered event. Go on the attack. Debate your belief in order to change your customary reaction to the adversity.
Give evidence to the contrary, argue for alternatives. Sometimes are beliefs are correct, now it’s time to get real about the implications. Maybe your boss is unhappy with your work… what are the implications?
Pessimists start with worse-case scenario but as we use disputation, let’s try and be more realistic with the implications. Remember all the other times the adversity wasn’t as bad as we imagined… its probably true for this time too! Another tool is Usefulness. Is my belief useful? It may be true. I may be fired. And it’s gonna suck! Now, is my emotional reaction of the sky is falling going to serve me and my family in the long-run. No. So let’s pause that thinking and focus on what’s changeable.
This could be a good time to evaluate if you enjoy your work, could going back to school for a different career be an option? Is there resources at the unemployment office that can help you with re-training funds?
Lastly, you can try distancing. Distancing is realizing that these are just beliefs and not facts. Beliefs are changeable. You can learn to distance yourself from automatically responding, giving yourself some space between emotional trigger and reactive behavior, give yourself some time for objectivity to test the accuracy of our reflexive beliefs.
“Remember, you see in any situation what you expect to see.” ~David J. Schwartz
Why not look forward to success in all your endeavors? Why not be resilient? Like everybody else you are bound to hit lows sometimes but don’t just stay there. Carry yourself out of the mud and improve your chances of getting back on the right track. And why not inspire others to remove their dark-colored glasses and see life in the bright side?