MARTIN SELIGMAN, PHD, and his research
team tested the swim team of the University of California at
Berkeley to find out who were optimists and who were pessimists.
Then they created a setback for the team members: The coach told
each swimmer his time after he finished a heat, but the coach
didnt give the swimmer an accurate time he gave
a time much slower than the swimmers real time.
How did the swimmers respond do this setback?
Seligman says, The optimists responded by swimming their
next heat faster; the pessimists went slower on
their next heat.
Optimists fight back when they hit a setback.
They are resilient in the face of the rejections and disappointments
we all face at one time or another in our lives. Optimists pick
themselves up quickly and go on. They bounce back.
Pessimists succumb. They give up. They
get depressed. They throw in the towel and let life run them
over. And the only thing that separates optimists from pessimists
is the way they think called their explanatory
style. When optimists have setbacks:
1. They assume the problem or its consequences
wont last very long.
2. They dont indulge in self-blame. Instead they look to
see if theres anything they could do to prevent the same
thing from happening in the future.
3. They dont jump to the conclusion that this setback will
ruin everything. An optimist will try to see how much
of their lives the setback wont affect.
YOU CAN BECOME more optimistic by practicing
these three ways of thinking about setbacks, and every inch you
move toward optimism means another inch of resiliency. It means
youll bounce back sooner from the inevitable setbacks of
life. It means youll have greater personal strength and
persistence. It means more of your life will go the way you want
it to go.
Look at those three optimistic ways of
thinking. Find the one youre weakest in and work on it.
Practice on the little setbacks you experience the small
disappointments, frustrations, annoyances, interruptions in your
everyday experience. Learn to think the optimistic way. Practice
until that way of thinking is habitual.
When it seems like life is trying to beat
you down, fight back with optimistic thoughts.
When you hit a setback in life:
Assume the problem or its consequences
wont last long, see how you can prevent the same problem
in the future, and dont jump to the conclusion that this
setback will ruin everything.