The reality of today's world seems to leave little room
for optimism. Almost every news story can lead because
it does bleed. We hear of critical food shortages in
Africa, daily gang deaths on city streets, the profiteering
from child pornography, and the climatic disasters prompted
by global warming. Health care costs move up faster
than a hummingbird in flight and more children now spout
profanities as a regular part of speech. With such negativity,
no wonder a 2004 U.S. government survey found that depression
afflicts one in 10 adults 14 days a month or more.
probably get depressed just reading the opening paragraph.
But wait! There is hope. Not the cock-eyed optimism
that became fodder for a song from the musical South
Pacific, but rather what psychologists in France are
calling "intelligent optimism." Such optimism
does not deny the reality of today's world, but rather
seeks to LEARN how to fashion a life amid such difficulties.
Martin Seligman, the psychologist who had made optimism
and happiness his life's work, would agree with the
French: optimism can be taught.
these basic steps:
Focus on what you can control. Don't get carried away
by circumstances you cannot change. You might not change
global warming but you can control your energy consumption.
You can't stop the downsizing in your company but you
can arm yourself with marketable skills.
Reframe the event so that you are not a victim. There
is always another way to view a situation. The flight
cancellation that caused me to miss (and forfeit) a
major engagement was not "planned" to "get"
me. It just was. My choice is to figure out what I can
do to help the current client and what I will put in
the place of the cancelled work.
Think "enough". When we concentrate on what
we don't have, we miss all the many things we do have.
The truth of the matter is that if you are reading this
article, you do have enough computer power. You do have
enough intelligence. You do have enough time.
Cultivate optimistic responses. Like a farmer tending
a field, optimism will never grow unless it is watered,
fed, weeded and nourished. We all have days in which
can take over. And, sometimes, that is a WISE response
because it keeps us grounded in reality. Just make sure
it is reality and not the imagination making extraordinary
leaps into conjecture. Weed out that conjecture. Ask
what you can DO to see a result that gives you a sense
of power. If we don't cultivate such intelligent optimism,
be aware of reality and willing to find options, then
we might do what Alexander Graham Bell warned. "Stare
so long at the closed door we fail to see the one that
Remember the power of generations. Children of depressed
parents are more prone to depression. Children of optimists
are more prone to be optimists. What do you choose to
pass along? Even if your parents were negative, you
can break the cycle with stopping, freeze-framing a
situation, listening to the negative self talk, and
then literally giving yourself a different message.
Yes, this takes practice but you can make it a habit
if you work it over time.
intelligent optimists understand that change and chaos
are given. They know that "this too shall pass".
In the meantime, they CHOOSE to take whatever action
they can within their own sphere of influence and then
settle back. It is enough.
2005, McDargh Communications.
by Executive Excellence Magazine as one of the top 100
thought leaders in business, Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE
authored one of the first books on work/life balance.
Numerous books and articles later, Eileen serves the
meetings industry as a popular international keynoter
and on the Board of Directors of the National Speakers
Association. You can find products and services offered
by Eileen at http://www.EileenMcDargh.com.