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Friday, 19 March 2010

Reasons to be cheerful, parts four, five and six?

Spring is definitely in the air, there are signs of the dark cloud of the recession finally lifting and we have great hopes of winning the Eurovision Song Contest this year - why wouldn't we feel cheerful?

I may be showing my age with the Ian Dury reference, but he had a point I think... sometimes we need to remind ourselves to be cheerful, to look at our proverbial glass of whatever and concentrate really hard until it really looks half full. In my work as a training consultant, I can see the incredible benefits to be gained by maintaining an optimistic outlook. Yes, having a cheery atmosphere where everyone is smiling and happy makes the workplace a nicer place to be, but it goes a lot further than that. Those who are able to see the positive side of events and people and those who are able to persist in pursuing their goals despite obstacles and setbacks are far more likely to to achieve success - whatever they define it to be...

The concept of 'dynamic optimism' is an interesting one. I came across an article a while ago by Max More Phd, who coined the phrase to describe the sort of optimism that is practical and that gets results - not just about putting on a false smile and telling ourselves and others that "everything will work out ok", but a tangible, intelligent sort of optimism that requires study and practice. Here are some useful ideas on the characteristics of dynamic optimists - see how many you recognise and if there are any that you don't currently use, why not try practicing them for a while and see what results you get?

  1. Interpret your experiences positively: Focus on enjoyable and constructive aspects of your life. See the world as full of opportunities and possibilities, and see any difficulties not as obstacles, but as challenges.
  2. Challenge limiting beliefs: Use constructive skepticism to challenge the unquestioned constraints held by ourselves, our colleagues and by society - develop a fundamental openness to new ideas.
  3. Avoid passive complaining: Rather than complaining about how unfair life is, and moaning about how difficult things are, take the world as it is and seek to find ways of moving forward.
  4. Maintain a sense of humour: See your own and others' mistakes and shortcomings with a sense of healthy, good-natured humour - it will help to reveal new perspectives and will combat dogmatic thinking.
  5. Utilise rational thought: Rather than being lead by fears or short-term desires, use rational thought to objectively analyse situations and take action based on reality.
  6. Be experimental: Be open to trying out new ways of doing things, stay out of ruts, actively seek more effective ways of achieving your goals and be willing to take calculated risks.
  7. Develop your self-confidence: Work on your self-esteem and self confidence so you truly believe that you are worthy of success and happiness, and have a fundamental belief in your competence to bring about good things.
  8. Take responsibility: Take charge, and create the conditions required for success. Have integrity and live according to your values and be proactive in seeking solutions.
  9. Seek continual improvement: Rather than being pushed along by fear, create an inspirational self-image and use this to maintain a personal drive to improve.
  10. Create a positive environment: Be attracted to positive people and situations. Seek out people who will support and inspire you, not undermine, distract or discourage you.
These are just a few ideas. It's all pretty much common sense really, but if you become more aware of your thought processes, you may just catch yourself in the unwitting act of seeing your glass as half empty... and if you do, then you're far more likely to be able to tip the balance into a dynamic optimism - the type of optimism that will steer you towards achieving your goals, towards staying happier and healthier, and towards being more resilient to the inevitable pressures that life throws at us!