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Learned Optimism. Martin Seligman



In an effort to "unstuck" myself, I am reading "Learned Optimism". I am convinced that I can learn this.

The author talk about 'explanatory style', which means how you interpret events that happen to you, and how it leads to a sort of concrete optimism or pessimism. What I like about the book is it is based on a lot of experiments, and debunks a lot of preconceived pessimistic beliefs that you can build up over time.

Another very interesting thing that is perhaps a bit frightening, but gives hope at the same time, in the sense that it explains how a child develops optimism, or rather remains optimistic, or becomes pessimistic over time due, largely to exposure to pessimistic explanatory style from a care taker (aka parent). This gives me a lot of insights as to why at one point when I was a pre-teen, I started feeling depressed.

What he and his team as found out is that, since kids are like little learning, and absorbing machines, they are listening very attentively to their parents 'explanatory style'. It is not only what the parent say directly to the child, but also what they say to themselves, how they interpret set-backs and misfortunes.

One very, very interesting note that I love is that he believes and is in fact probably right in observing that children are, by definition optimistic. I has found in his studied that it is virtually impossible to find a child that isn't optimistic bellow the age of 7. His hypothesis is that this is due to inherent biological survival programing (he has better terms for it, but I don't have the book in front of me at the moment). He believes that It is the way the human species makes it possible for the child, the bearer of the future generation to survive til puberty, when he/she can insure the procreation of the next generation. Although it may seem pretty dry, I love this explanation as it gives me tremendous hope. Meaning, if I was an optimist at one point, even if it is very far away, I can relearn!

Since I finally realized not only how pessimistic I was, but that there might be a possibility to change that, when I was about 28, I have made some huge progress. I mean, I am far from the 'finish line' so to speak but this book give me and as renewed my conviction that I can do it.

I try and remind myself also that I am a really good student (heck, you have to know what you are good at). I am good at learning things. My motivation might not be always directed internally, but this time it is, mostly, and also, I want to have children some day, and want them to be optimistic! So I will once again reembark in my lifelong journey to re-learn optimism.

Wish me luck!

and also, may the force be with you all :rolleyes:


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