Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Getting Back my Mojo

I don't normally read a lot of non-fiction, but a psychologist friend recommended this book, Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman, over lunch a few weeks ago.
"You've had a rough year," she explained. And she was right. With the long illness and eventual death of my father and a few health issues of my own, the past nine months or so have been challenging, to say the least.

But I've always considered myself optimistic, I told her.

She gave me a subtle grin that I imagine her patients are familiar with. "Point is, you've learned to expect the worst case scenario. And that mindset makes you fearful, and it hold you back from achieving things I know you can achieve."

I was sure she was wrong. And to prove it to her, I bought the book. One of the first things it tells the reader is that most pessimistic people don't believe that they are. Hmm. A few chapters in there's a test with a rather complicated scoring system that measures your optimism versus pessimism in various parameters.

I won't give away exactly how that works, but suffice it to say that I learned something. Although in most of those parameters I am naturally optimistic, there's one area in which I am way on the pessimistic side of the scale. Perhaps that tendency causes me to be so fearful about certain situations that I self-sabotage.

I haven't gotten much farther in the book, but now that I am intrigued, I do plan to finish it. The rest of the book is supposed to help me overcome my pessimistic part so that I can achieve what I want and thus be happier.

Okay - I'm in. I'll report back when I finish the book.

What about you? Would you consider yourself a natural optimist or a pessimist?

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