The Power of Optimism

No matter how optimistic you are right now, if you became even more optimistic, you would improve your health and your ability to succeed. But that means optimism in the scientific sense of the word, which has nothing to do with positive thinking or looking on the bright side. Positive thinking is great, but it isn't as important, as valuable, or as fundamental as optimism.

Optimism means explaining setbacks to yourself in a way that gives you strength, resilience, and determination. An optimistic explanatory style leads to a fighting spirit in the face of disappointments rather than a feeling of defeat or giving up.

The three most important areas of your explanatory style are:

1. Temporary
2. Changeable
3. Specific

When you feel a negative emotion, pay attention to your negative thoughts. Have you mistakenly concluded a setback is permanent or unalterable? Have you made any overgeneralizations? The best way to examine your thoughts is by writing them down.

The simple rule to follow is: Form the habit of criticizing your negative thoughts whenever they occur.

More on how to improve your explanations of setbacks.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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