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Steps to greater happiness Step 5

Can we learn to be more optimistic? Henry Ford once said, “If you think that you can do something or think that you can’t you’re probably right.” Optimism is at the heart of wellbeing. There are many advantages to thinking optimistically. It can help us to be more resilient; we can have better physical and mental health and have flexible coping strategies. Many of us may feel that we're more of a cup half empty person or we'd prefer to be prepared for disaster by looking at the worse case scenario. Martin Seligman in his book "Learned Optimism" says that optimism is a habit that you can develop even if you naturally lean to a more glass half empty personality. There are 3 dimensions to optimistic and pessimistic thinking. Personal Permanent Pervasive When a negative event happens pessimists tend to think that the causes are personal, they are permanent and they impact on everything. Whereas the optimist sees events as being not personal, temporary and limited to that circumstance. Looking at the image below you can see by thinking the way they do optimists are better able to protect themselves from strong negative emotions. How can you develop a more optimistic outlook? Next time you face a negative event think about whether it truly is Personal, Permanent or Pervasive. To balance the personal aspect look at the bigger picture and notice what other factors might have caused the negative event. To challenge the idea of the permanency of the problem maybe think at how much of life does change. To balance out the Pervasive element try to look at what areas of your life are going well. Many of us are facing challenges this year that we could never have foreseen. Whilst not lessening the tough year we have experienced a small change in focus could have a real impact on your resilience and recovery. If you would like more help and support in developing these and other wellbeing strategies then please get in touch.

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