The more I read about positive psychology, the more bananas I go. I am fascinated with the mind boggling scientific research that finally brings tested & proven solutions to the science behind happiness.
Habits of thinking need not to be forever. One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can chose the way they think. Martin Seligman
I’m a pessimist by nature. I innately tend to worry and put the worst first. I don’t need much to be set for a grumpy day. It can be as silly as waking up to a messy house or forgetting to buy lemons for my tea in the morning.
My outlook changed when I learnt about the theory that 40% of attitude towards life is genetic, 20% is determined by our environment and education and 40% is self-modeled by the way we perceive the reality. And so I decided to put this theory to the test.
From the outside, my life looks peachy: I have a loving husband and a lovely son. We laugh a lot and tell jokes, we love each other and live in a charming French town close to the beach. We have a nice group of friends and our family is supportive and present for us. After peeling off this layer, we are a family confronted with raising a hyper-sensitive child, we struggle with our careers and live on a very tight budget.
It took me a few therapy sessions, many tears shed and a few glasses of wine in between a pile of bills and tantrums to understand that feeling sorry for myself and my struggles won’t change the situation. I know it’s easier said than done, but trust me, just getting up and facing the reality as it is works miracles.
Optimism and perseverance go hand in hand. We cannot find solutions, if we are not ready to search for them. We stumble across answers when we accept the reality. Often times, it’s a painful process. Optimism is not always beautiful and happy. It’s not about seeing la vie en rose“. Juriaan Kamp
And so, my personal experiment concluded that indeed when I model my pessimistic mind to see the “rays of sunshine after the storm”, life becomes more bearable and solutions arise. Just be warned that fighting those demons takes a whole lot of work. And so I chose to live as a continuous work in progress.
Optimists and pessimists die the same way, but they chose to live life differently”. Shimon Peres
For more on learned optimism, check out Martin Seligman’s work here
I also like Shawn Achor’s TED work on happiness. Watch his TED talk here.