How To Be Optimistic, According To Science


Scientific research has come up with a long list of benefits to being optimistic, including better health, a longer life, and increased happiness.

According the The Week, here are the three steps to enhance your optimism — or even make mildly positive people very positive:

The three P’s

It all comes down to what researchers call “explanatory style.” When bad things happen, what kind of story do you tell yourself?

There are three important elements here. Let’s call them the Three P’s: permanence, pervasiveness, and whether it’s personal.

Pessimists tell themselves that bad events:

1. Will last a long time, or forever. (“I’ll never get this done.”)

2. Are universal. (“You can’t trust any of those people.”)

3. Are their own fault. (“I’m terrible at this.”)

Optimists, well, they see it the exact opposite:

1. Bad things are temporary. (“That happens occasionally but it’s no big deal.”)

2. Bad things have a specific cause and aren’t universal. (“When the weather is better that won’t be a problem.”)

3. It’s not their fault. (“I’m good at this but today wasn’t my lucky day.”)

Seligman explains:

“The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad luck, or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder.”

So now we understand the kind of thinking that underlies these positions and how to use them to improve your optimistic outlook, read the full article on The Week here.

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