This article is an excerpt from The Top 10 Traits of Highly Resilient People: Real Life Stories of Resilience Show You How to Build a Stress Resistant Personality, published with permission from the publisher.
Did you ever see the film Pollyanna when you were younger? If so, you already have a clear image of the ultimate optimist — at the beginning of the film anyway!
Pollyanna’s approach to life was to find the good in everything that came her way. She was depicted as an eternal optimist, who lived in a town full of embittered people and eventually her approach to life rubbed off on everyone around her.
It is hard to imagine a resilient person without also seeing them as an optimist, because generally speaking, those who have the ability to bounce back from adversity tend to view life positively. Rather than let circumstances dictate their outlook, optimists believe that they can control their own experiences, and this becomes the lens through which they view their world.
The word Pollyanna is used in modern culture in a more disparaging way, describing someone who is blindly optimistic and delusional. The truth is however, that an optimist has learned the art of reframing, whether knowingly or not. It is merely a matter of perspective, choosing to see situations in a way that boosts you, rather than depletes you.
When we are overcome with doubt, it’s easy to imagine that the whole world is against us. To rise above pessimism we can learn to adopt a more hopeful perspective. The good news is that reframing can be mastered by anyone and it is one of the best gifts you can ever give yourself, because it elevates your experience of everyday life.
Martin Seligman is a world-renowned psychologist and leading researcher into the field of positive psychology and optimism. His work has contributed to the understanding that we can all learn to become more optimistic, even if we are brought up in an environment that taught us to view life as a long battle you can never win.
Being optimistic is not about wearing rose-tinted spectacles or glossing over difficult feelings. It is a learned skill that means you not only extract more joy from your day, you are more likely to have more days to extract joy from. Researchers have studied pessimists and optimists for years and have found that adopting an optimistic perspective helps you become more mentally and physically resilient.
This article is worth reading Resilience Trait 1: Insight & Emotional Intelligence
Optimism is about viewing the world from the perspective that everything that happens to you offers you an opportunity to learn more about yourself and grow as an individual. The deciding factor between an optimist and a pessimist is that the former interprets an event positively, whereas the latter will find a negative spin.
Adopting a more optimistic mindset is a proactive act of self-care that will not only increase your resilience, it will also help you to be more open and less stressed. Consequently, according to the findings of Seligman, you are healthier and far less prone to heart disease, cancer and auto-immune disorders.
Developing optimism does not necessarily need you to work with cognitive therapists. It is a habitual quality you can cultivate yourself through regular self inquiry, presence and reflection. Drawing on your own experiences, your strengths and areas you would like to improve on, you can use the art of awareness to create more empowering stories and start changing your inner dialogue over time. This chapter will show you how an optimistic perspective shapes your world from the inside out, no matter what your personal circumstances.
The next story may initially seem as though it is about many aspects of resilience, but underlying each aspect is a firm foundation of optimism. This story comes from a heart-led physician, Dr. Jill Stocker, who has learned the art of resilience by embracing the concept of ‘one more time’. Her story includes personal reflections about vulnerability and creating a sense of hope and possibility in others. It also includes recommendations for practices you can incorporate into your daily life to increase your resilience and cultivate your optimism.
Watch the interview between Dr. Jill and Dr. Andrea here:
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