Skilled Optimism

What is the central skill of optimism? It may not be what you think.

Does positive self talk make you want to puke?

Yeah, me too. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying to summon my inner Stuart Smalley on many occasions. Each one has left me feeling ill.

But there’s good news here for you regardless of whether you’re a glass half full or glass half empty kind of person.

Dr. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association and author of Authentic Happiness and Learned Optimism writes that positive thinking and self talk is best used to quiet your inner critic.

“We have found over the years that positive statements you make to yourself have little if any effect. What is crucial is what you think when you fail, using the power of non-negative thinking. Changing the destructive things you say to yourself when you experience the setbacks that life deals all of us is the central skill of optimism.”

A few months back I did a mental inventory on my own thinking and practices and found that my negative self talk had seized the bully pulpit! Since they I’ve enjoyed greater peace of mind by quieting my inner critic and stopping what Seligman refers to as catastropic thinking. I’ve also been able to acknowledge in my own way the things I’ve done right. What’s amazed me the most about the difference this has made is the striking speed of change that these internal shifts are having.

What say you? Are you optimistic by nature or have you found certain ways to embrace optimism?

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