Positive Psychology, Flourishing, Flow

Learned optimism is the concept that one can learn a talent for joy, like any other, optimism can be cultivated and is done by consciously challenging any negative self talk. Optimists live their lives with higher achievements and have better overall health with reservation.

Older people however, who have low expectations for a satisfying future, may be more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who see brighter days ahead. It is the realization of what is reality, not an imagined or hoped for outcome. Denial of a reality can be harmful to happiness, and wellbeing. Making the best of what is, finding the joy in the reality, refusing to live in denial, all are components of producing a happy and fulfilling life. Living in reality prepares for a more satisfying decline caused by age or illness. There is a value in realizing what is, is, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Learned helplessness, in contrast with learned optimism research reveals people, dogs, cats, birds, fish, monkeys, octopus, Pike (the fish), prisoners of war, and just about anything with a brain has the capacity to learn how to be helpless. It is the reaction of giving up when faced with the belief that whatever you do does not matter, that one cannot predict or control events in their lives. It is followed by depression and anxiety in all these test creatures. 

One can learn to be pessimistic, helpless, hopeless, or optimistic. It is a choice each one of us can make. It doesn’t mean everything will be hunky-dory, all sunshine. It means that whatever comes our way, we can learn how to see it in a constructive way, that either produces positive change, or empowers one to remain calm in the face of chaos. We need that now more than ever before. 

“L}earned helplessness began at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967, as an extension of Seligman's interest in depression. Quite by accident, Seligman and colleagues discovered that the conditioning of dogs led to outcomes that opposed the predictions of B.F. Skinner's behaviorism, then a leading psychological theory.”

Pessimism, on the other hand, “is much more common; pessimists are more likely to give up in the face of adversity or to suffer from depression. Seligman invites pessimists to learn to be optimists by thinking about their reactions to adversity in a new way. The resulting optimism—one that grew from pessimism—is a learned optimism. The optimist's outlook on failure can thus be summarized as "What happened was an unlucky situation (not personal), and really just a setback (not permanent) for this one, of many, goals (not pervasive)”.






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