Why can some people seemingly take knock after knock in life, only to be able to absorb the blows and simply keep going?
It can be attributed to resilience – but what is it that actually makes these people resilient?
One of the main ingredients is optimism.
After all, why would setbacks matter when you believe you’ll ultimately win anyway?
Optimism goes beyond simply “thinking positively”. That would suggest a level of delusion, where you keep trying the same thing and getting the same (negative) result.
Optimism comes from the same place we discussed last email – a growth mindset.
It is grounded in reality, and comes from being able to learn from our experiences in order to gain success.
With learned optimism, we can:
– Reduce the sense of helplessness that tends to set in when people feel out of control. You can change the things you have influence over.
– Be motivated to change bad situations, such as sticking to health regimes and addressing life problems before they spiral out of control.
– Improve our ability to develop friendships and supportive relationships, as we’ll know that other people will like and accept us.
– Improve our immune system. Optimistic people have a tendency to catch fewer viruses and illnesses than pessimists.
So what’s the secret behind becoming more optimistic? Martin Seligman advocates a five-stage plan:
Adversity – acknowledging the situation that triggered the feelings of helplessness in you.
Beliefs – this stage of the process involves exploring your beliefs – both positive and negative.
Consequences – analyse what the consequences of these beliefs might be. If your belief is “I can’t cope with this, it’s just too difficult”, it is likely that the result will indeed be a failure to cope.
Disputation – challenge negative beliefs by finding evidence to dispute them, and then generating alternatives.
Energisation – this is all about noticing what happens to your energy levels as you dispel and deal with any negative beliefs.
That final stage is where you’d feel better, more optimistic, and more resilient.
Learn more about learned optimism and building resilience on our Developing Resilience course.