During the minor ‘Positive Psychology’ (which I would recommend to everyone interested in how to make the good even better) I learned a lot about positivity. A small content of this huge subject was about learned optimism, from Seligmann. He thinks that optimism can be learned, trained and contains several dimensions.
What dimension touched me
During the class about optimism we had to fill in a questionnaire which would tell us how optimistic we were. To my utter surprise I scored ‘optimistic across the board’. Funny, because I always thought of myself as a pessimist. Seligmann speaks of three domains; Permanence: how long the consequences will last. Pervasiveness: the extent in which event impacts other areas of life. Personalisation: the extent in which you internalise or externalise events. I didn’t understand my score at first, how could this be? I’m always thinking, worrying about the future, always working towards long term goals. But eventually it hit me. The fact that I scored so high on this test was mainly due to the second dimension…. Pervasiveness… I do set long term goals, and I do work towards them, and I do worry sometimes, but I’m very happy with these goals. They make me motivated, help me develop personal growth, their something worth fighting for.
The chance that I will use the same test as a professional is pretty big. I think this test is a good start for further goals and I believe it gives some insights in your way of thinking. Like an eye opener. Being optimistic is a big step on our way to happiness. Obviously I have never coached someone as a professional instead of a student, so I’ve never applied psychological principles on someone else, but I do have some personal experience. I have both experienced the ‘old’ way of dealing with personal issues or to change your way of thinking. I’m talking about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The effects were big, it really changed me, but the sessions felt heavy, sad and really hard and confronting. I always came home exhausted and feeling like a failure. Again, it did help me a lot, I couldn’t have asked for something else during that difficult time in my life but nonetheless it took a great deal out of me. The second, ‘newer’ way of changing habits and ways of thinking is the positive approach through coaching for example. I experienced 10 coaching sessions. The difference was unbelievable. It helped me changing habits, I went from pessimist to optimist and most important of all; the sessions gave me hope, energy and goals I was surely able to accomplish! This made the sessions fun, light and something to look forward to. It made changing myself interesting and almost fun.
After those coaching sessions and during this minor where we are constantly busy with being positive and happy, I can feel myself changing. I feel healthier, more energized and more hopeful. Though that all sounds great, the best and admirable change has to go to the mindfulness sessions during this minor. I used to experience difficulty falling asleep.
I couldn’t stand the silence so I watched series in bed until I would fall asleep. Then, somewhere in the middle of the night I woke up because of the lights and sounds coming of the television. After a year or so while developing this habit, I started to notice the television lights were making it harder and harder to fall asleep, so I started to wear something like a blindfold or eyepatch to block out the lights. So falling asleep became more difficult. This went on for a couple of years. Since the mindfulness sessions this problem is history. I fall asleep without reading, watching television or even wearing eyepatches. I do a short mindfulness session of Body&Breath on my own (guided by youtube) for 15 minutes and I always fall asleep before it ends.
So? True or False?
True. Definitely true. True as can possible be. Learned optimism is a fact and everyone can learn it (to some extend). You CAN learn to be more optimistic. And through that you WILL experience better wellbeing, less stress and higher satisfaction at work, school and relationships! And that’s just optimism. What if you learned all the aspects of ‘happiness’? Dream to dare, dare to dream.