For 2018

"Life is lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road and we stand on the mountain looking back through the valley that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale.” Jill Savage

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Redbook Continued

View from our room at Daytona Beach last week. My little guy playing in the puddle waiting for fireworks.
Part 2

Taken From Redbook Magazine - April 2009
Act Like an Optimist, Improve Your Health
Either way you see it, here's the whole story on optimism and your health.
By Marguerite Lamb

Act Like an Optimist, Improve Your Health - Page 2

"Special Offer Be persistent.
It's persistence — not cheeriness or luck — that paves the optimist's path to a better life, Segerstrom says. Optimists believe they will eventually succeed, so they keep plugging away at their goals (whether good health, a better job, or a lasting marriage) long after their pessimistic peers have quit. "Positive expectations fuel motivation and hard work," Segerstrom observes. "Negative expectations have the exact opposite effect."

How can pessimists keep from being discouraged or immobilized by their fatalistic thinking? By taking action, even when you think it might be futile. Start by drafting a step-by-step plan for accomplishing your goal, and then take the first step. "It's okay if you feel deep down that you won't succeed," says Segerstrom. At least now you have a blueprint you can act on, even if you doubt the outcome. (Think of it as akin to building a piece of Ikea furniture: You may look skeptically at the daunting instructions and disassembled parts, but follow each step one by one, and somehow that jumble of boards, nuts, and bolts becomes your new entertainment center.) Just be sure to hold yourself accountable. "If I'm trying to lose weight, I'm always more successful when I write down every bite I eat," Segerstrom says. "Keep a detailed log so you're aware of precisely what you're doing to advance your goal."

You should also replace old goals — those that don't pan out, or begin to bore you into inaction — with new and meaningful pursuits. "If you disengage from a goal and don't fill that space with another activity that is significant to you, your life becomes a void," warns Scheier. "For your psychological health, you need to invest in new goals so that you maintain purpose in your life."

Tackle problems head-on.
Optimists and pessimists cope differently with adversity, Scheier says: The optimist launches into active problem-solving mode, while the pessimist avoids, ignores, or disengages from challenges. It's a difference with potentially serious health consequences. "Avoidant coping is clearly associated with heightened distress, anxiety, and depression," says Scheier. In other words, even if you think you're walling yourself off from a bad situation — and the hurt that comes with it — your body still bears the brunt of that negativity.

The good news is, even if you continue to think cynically, you can learn to handle hardships in a more adaptive, "optimistic" way. If you act to resolve crises when they happen — and this is a behavior you can learn, says Scheier — instead of just accepting them as your lot in life, you'll reduce the stress, anxiety, and depression they cause. When adversity strikes, resist distracting yourself with Mad Men, mojitos, and M&Ms. Grab paper and pen, define your problem specifically, then brainstorm possible solutions (either alone or with help). Just listing potential fixes may make you feel more empowered, Scheier says. "Then try implementing one of your solutions and see what happens," he adds. "Part of what holds pessimists back is they think, Why bother? If you do bother and get some positive feedback, you may be encouraged to keep trying. You may even begin to develop a more optimistic orientation toward life."

Change your perspective.
So you faced a problem head-on, tried to fix it, and it didn't work out. Now what? Well, optimists often resort to reappraisal — that is, looking for an alternative interpretation, a way to cast the situation in a new and less negative light. One powerful form of reappraisal is benefit-finding — a technical way to say "looking for the silver lining." While it might sound hokey, studies show that benefit-finding is a highly effective coping strategy among people with chronic illnesses. Those who see their diagnoses as having enhanced their family connections, their appreciation for life, or their capacity to let go of the little stuff suffer less depression, says Stacey Hart, Ph.D., an associate psychology professor at Ryerson University in Toronto.

This is not to suggest that we all wear rose-colored glasses all the time. People need to express negative feelings when they have them — they just need to learn to do so without "sinking into the abyss," says Hart. The key: keeping perspective, by recognizing the pros and cons inherent in most challenges. "Unfortunately, pessimists tend to lose that perspective," Hart says. "It becomes a cognitive habit for them to see only the downsides." Yet even those prone to a doom-and-gloom view can get better at noticing and appreciating life's upsides with some practice. Hint: Don't wait for hardship to strike before you begin searching for the bright side of things. Ask yourself, "Can I identify some upsides to my life?" If not, consciously work to reintroduce pleasure into your world. "It's something you have to be dedicated to," says Hart. "You're going to get busy and forget, so you have to leave yourself Post-it notes and reminders in your calendar to spend a few minutes daily doing something that brings you joy, whether it's taking a hot bath, reading a favorite magazine, or calling a friend." Enjoyed regularly, these brief, happy oases will strengthen your sense that life is (generally) good — and shine as those silver linings when storm clouds do brew."

To be continued on Saturday . .


ClassyChassy said...

I like the part that says 'don't wait for hardships to strike before thinking of the positive' - In the past I've not done something because I think 'what if it does not go the way I thought it would'...! Then, I didn't even try! It would have been better to also think "...then it will be a unique LEARNING experience!" There is always something positive, if a negative arrives. Ya just have to look for it.

^..^Corgidogmama said...

This was so worth reading~
Such thoughtful ideas for us all to consider. It really IS about attitude and how we perceive things.

Buttercup said...

Great article. I especially like the part about replacing old goals with ones that are my goals now. This is an article I can read every month (week!) and get something out of it.