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Optimism versus Pessimism

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am ever the optimist. I always see the bright side of pretty much everything. I’m looking at a glass that is usually overflowing rather than even half full. My glasses are not rose tinted, they are very clear, but they do definitely see the bright side of life.

Is this a learned behaviour or is it innate? If you spoke to my four brothers and I about our childhood, our versions are quite different. You might even for a minute or two think we grew up in different families.

So what happened?

I always saw the bright side, possibly because I am the only girl and may well have been treated differently on an emotional level by my parents.

Can we change how we think about things, how we view life? I believe that we can, but that may well be the optimist in me.

I have again recently picked up the book by Martin E.P. Seligman titled “Learned Optimism”. He talks about the differences between someone who is hopeful and someone who is hopeless, and how they might see things.

For instance:

Hopeless < > Hopeful

“I’m stupid” < > “I’m hung over”

“Men are tyrants” < > “My husband was in a bad mood”

“It’s five in ten this lump is cancer” < > “It’s five in ten this lump is nothing”

“My friend gave me bad directions” < > “I missed the turn”

Seligman’s book is very explanatory, but for me it is quite simple:

"You can change how you choose to behave, rather than always looking for the despair, look for the happy."

Choose happiness - Meri Gibson