This month we will focus on the character concept, “optimism.”
Optimistic people look on the bright side– they see a challenge and just seem to
“know” everything is going to turn out exactly as it should. We all know people who tend to be more optimistic or more pessimistic in daily situations. Optimism and pessimism are not just about seeing the positive or focusing on the negative.
There is more to it. Pessimists tend to see bad things that happen as permanent, pervasive, and personal. They see one bad thing happening as an indication that more bad things are on their way. Optimists, in contrast, see negative incidents as temporary and external– having no bearing on what’s to come in the future.
Whether someone is optimistic or pessimistic has a great deal of consequences. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, put it this way; “If you are a pessimist…then you are about eight times as likely to get depressed, you are less likely to succeed at work, your personal relationships are more likely to break up, and you are likely to have a shorter and more illness-filled life. That’s the main discovery I associate with my lifetime.” Optimism can enhance quality of life.
On a positive note, people can learn to be more optimistic. It’s called “learned optimism.” It takes some hard work and consistency, but we can do it! For example, when consciously and consistently replace negative self talk with positive self talk, overtime, we can become more optimistic. We can make optimism a habit!
Talk to your children about how you keep an optimistic attitude when it comes to unexpected challenges in your life. Discuss with them what they are learning in class and how they can create positive self talk even when their days don’t go as planned. Help them to take positive accountability for mistakes so that they can stay in control of their attitude and choices. Most of all, help them to reword negative pessimistic statements into positive, optimistic ones.
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