Because that’s where it lives, no? We all know that it isn’t what happens to you that matters, but how you react to it. We know that, right? At least in our heads . . .
It’s getting to where we live that’s the tough part. I can know something, believe it, ascribe to it mentally, and then of course in my heart not believe it at all. And since that’s the impetus for our actions, it makes the whole idea invalid.
That’s why I love the science of things. My skeptical mind can attach to true studies, and have that filter down into the governing parts of me. I.e., then I can believe it!
Lord knows why I didn’t find Martin Seligman’s work sooner. I’ve studied so much of happiness, and while again, I love the theories, and it makes complete sense what all the philosophers of yore said on the subject, it just sounded like a nice fiction most of the time. But Seligman has studied this for decades.
And his findings about happiness, success, optimism vs pessimism and depression, opened my eyes wide.
It all comes down to two ways of looking at life: Optimistically or pessimistically. In a nutshell, his studies have proved how an individual’s sense of personal control determines his fate.
And though born optimists do exist, for the rest of us that optimism can be learned.
Our reactions to events—both large and small—hold the key to how we perceive ourselves and life. Our self talk proves quite revealing. Many folks find that in essence, they’re being mean to themselves. And that meanness predicts failure.
Don’t you wonder how some folks just seem to waltz into success? Two babies are born into similar environments, with similar IQs and advantages. One becomes Donald Trump, and another winds up defeated. The why of this has always just tweaked me.
Seligman holds that this is due to our explanatory style. I.e., our take on the events that happen to us. Whether we feel helpless is determined by if we personalize the events, if we find them pervasive, and permanent.
It’s really that simple.
Long ago, in childhood really! I chose to become a writer. Or, it chose me. Or both—however you choose to look at these things. LOL. And if you stick with it, well, it can surely be a very rough road.
Years ago, I let the world of publishing break my heart. I say “let,” because no author has it easy here. But I began to believe that it just wouldn’t happen for me. I was the cosmic fluke. Even though I had four books published by then, my career was stalled. I personalized it, I thought it was pervasive, and I believe it to be permanent. Talk about a recipe for disaster! My creativity at the time was dead in the water.
I need an attitude adjustment.
I mean, just wait a minute. Why not me? Who said I wouldn’t succeed? Was I the authority on this? And just because I wasn’t a bestseller yet, who says it won’t or can’t happen?
Nobody can say that.
So I took Seligman’s work to heart, and learned from him. My attitude changed. And I again found happiness in the very act of creating again.
Like anything, optimism takes focus and persistence. Of course! LOL. You didn’t think no work was involved, did you? For some of us, those old tapes have played for so long that we have to unravel them a piece at a time. But that’s fine too. Consciousness is raised with each and every lesson.
As Seligman says, “The very good news is there is quite a number of internal circumstances […] under your voluntary control. If you decide to change them (and be warned that none of these changes come without real effort), your level of happiness is likely to increase lastingly.”
So, first and foremost, don’t be so mean to you. The world needs more happy, healthy, optimistic folks. Go be one!
How do you stay optimistic?