Articles in Optimism
A few months ago I explored the relationship between health outcomes and explanatory style in 200 executives, including 119 men and 81 women from the main companies in Peru. I divided the executives into two groups based on the Seligman’s Attributional Style Questionnaire: those with predominately optimistic explanatory styles and those with predominately pessimistic explanatory styles. Then I looked at the way their explanatory styles related to two variables of health.
Sometimes our children do something totally unexpected and unacceptable. Then we try desperately to make sense of what happened by playing it over and over in our minds. We can hope for particular outcomes, but with that hope comes fear that it will not be so. Is the road to fearlessness found by giving up hope and letting go of dreams? But not to dream of their futures is an intolerable posture.
Throughout the World Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association, a dazzling array of new scientific breakthroughs and research set off fireworks to rival those of the Magic Kingdom. Martin Seligman challenged his own earlier research on learned helplessness. Tal Ben-Shahar invited us to focus on the growing tip as we work on positive change. Tom Rath reminded us of often neglected qualities that help us be fully charged.
I want to add to Lisa’s review of the book Focus by discussing prevention and promotion focus. Both kinds of focus can sometimes work together. For example, with the goal to exercise more, promotion-focus gives people enthusiasm for the gain of better fitness, and prevention-focus keeps them vigilant in the long term to avoid losing the fitness they built up.
When they want to feel more loved, valued, respected or connected, most people give away their power. They ask (or want) others to be different, which means someone else’s behavior determines how happy they will be.
What do happier people do?
December 5, 2013 will be remembered for news of the death of the first black president of South Africa, anti-apartheid icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela. I’m not normally drawn to writing about political leaders. But Mandela was different in every respect. His life was a life well-lived.
We are constantly in an internal dialogue with ourselves. We comment, we evaluate, and we judge. Although such inner conversations may seem benign at first sight, what we say to ourselves about ourselves can in fact have an important influence on our emotional well-being as well as our beliefs about our capabilities. Stepping back, mindful awareness can give us more choice and flexibility in how we deal with negative thoughts and emotions.
According to several news reports, what Inamori did to re-engage employees and lead Japanese Airlines back into the black was to insist on compulsory philosophy sessions for all staff, washed down with free beer. I was so intrigued by this story that I wanted to delve a bit deeper. I hoped Kazuo Inamori’s business philosophy might yield some positive psychology gems like the ones I recently found with Honda.
During the recent London 2012 Olympic Games an unparalleled mood of optimism and hope swept across the United Kingdom. It was without doubt an extraordinary two weeks. The question is whether we can maintain and capitalize on that sense of Olympic optimism now that the games are over, the athletes have all flown home, and life is settling back to normal. As with the sporting legacy, only time will tell.
This is the second article in my series of 24 stories of Chinese paragons, one for each VIA character strength. Even though the authors of Character Strengths and Virtues reviewed literature from major cultures around the whole world to select the 24 character strengths, the book’s paragon stories are predominantly Western. I hope this series can be a small supplement to a shared and global picture of human strengths.