~ 10 minutes

When we’re down and discouraged, the techniques of learned optimism can interrupt the flow of negative thoughts to provide a reality check — and support us to find the feelings that will help us move forward.

Can you think of a time when you encountered adversity in your daily life?  On a piece of paper:

  • List all of the micro-adversities or difficulties you have encountered so far TODAY on the left.
  • On the right hand side of the paper, reflect on how each situation resolved with intervention from you or not? 
  • Did your attitude about what happened have any effect on the outcome? 
  • How do you feel about the situation now? 

When you receive negative feedback from a peer, colleague, or supervisor, the natural reaction is to push back. You want to defend yourself, dispute the facts, and provide an alternative explanation.

However, when you are only talking to yourself, that impulse to push back often doesn’t occur. Instead, you may move in a downward thought spiral (think about your list above).

Do you ever catch yourself as you start down that depressing spiral and tell yourself to pause?  Or push back like you would if someone else was telling you these things?

You should, because that’s the technique for learned optimism.  Dr. Martin Seligman says optimism is learnable, and interrupting the flow when you find yourself thinking negative thoughts is the first step.

Watch this video: 

Optimism for Educators | Six Seconds (2.10 minutes) 

By employing a habit of optimism, people take ownership. They generate new options, invent solutions to “unsolvable” problems — and they are healthier, have stronger relationships, do better at work, and are more resilient. 

Read this article with more information about the TIE technique.

How to Be More Optimistic: 3 Vital Questions | Six Seconds (5 minutes) 

Do you want to know how to be more optimistic? Many of us have the feeling that we should be more optimistic, but how, specifically, can you make it happen? This article offers concrete steps for bringing out the optimist in you.