6 Steps To Change From A Pessimist to an Optimist

6 Steps To Train Your Brain To Think Like An Optimist

6 Steps To Train Your Brain To Think Like An Optimist
Are you an optimist or a pessimist? If you feel like you’ve been looking at life with a negative lens lately, here are 6 steps to train your brain to think like an optimist – so you can feel happier and more confident.

Bad stuff.

It happens to all of us.

If you’re feeling particularly angry at life right now, I’ve got a terrific tool which has been proven to help.

Here’s the deal:

6 Steps To Train Your Brain To Think Like An Optimist
Dr. Martin Seligman, director of the U of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, says a lot of your love (or hate) for life is dependent upon “the stories” you tell yourself.

This “self-talk” can either enable you to persist in the face of challenges – or completely disable you.

What makes someone a Pessimist?

Martin Seligman describes it like this: “Pessimists, who generally don’t bounce back easily from bad times, see failure as permanent, pervasive, and personal. They tell themselves things like: ‘My life is ruined!’ and ‘This bad thing is going to undermine everything.’”

What makes someone an Optimist?

Optimistic people, in contrast, tell themselves that setbacks are temporary – confined to that one situation. Optimists tend not to get angry at the universe.

Optimists simply assume that bad events are an exception –  and good things will continue to happen.

Meaning?

6 Steps To Train Your Brain To Think Like An Optimist
If lately a lot of bad stuff has been happening, you’ve got to mindfully train your brain to think like an optimist – so you can feel happier and more confident again.

How To Think Like An Optimist?

Dr. Seligman has partnered up with Dr. Karen Reivich to create a specific process for thinking more like an optimist – that’s literally as easy as A B C D E.

Here’s how it works:

  • A. When we encounter Adversity (that’s the “A” step in this process), we react by thinking about it.
  • B. Our thoughts congeal into Beliefs ( the “B” step in this process).
  • C. These beliefs have Consequences (the “C” step in this process).
  • D. This brings us to the “D” step –  which is all about “Disputing” the negative beliefs – so that you can get to …
  • E.  Energizing yourself with positive emotions.

6 Steps To Train Your Brain To Think Like An Optimist
5 Steps To Think Like An Optimist Further Explained…

1. Get journal.

Write down the 5 letters A, B, C, D. E on 5 different pages of your journal.

2. Start with the letter “A”

Write down the nature of your “Adversity.”

Describe the situation in terms of…

  • who
  • what
  • when
  • where

Think of yourself as a reporter writing down the facts and nothing but the facts.

Be as objective and as unemotional as possible.

3. Write about your “B” – what negative “Beliefs” has your Adversity triggered?

  • What type of person does your adversity make you feel like?
  • What kind of life does it make you feel you are leading?
  • What kind of world does it make you feel you live in?

For example…

  • “I suck.”
  • “Human beings all suck!”
  • “You can’t trust anyone!”
  • “It’s because I’m fat, old, female etc… that this happened!”

To identify your “Beliefs,” slow down and listen to your self-talk.

Specifically listen for beliefs that sound “permanent, pervasive, and personal.”

For example…

  • “I’ll never get a job” (permanent).
  • “This always happens” (pervasive).
  • “I’m an idiot” (personal).

It takes practice and lots of self-awareness to identify your “self-talk” or “story,” but it’s important that you learn to recognize your self-defeating (and inaccurate) Beliefs.

Take some notes on the chatter in your brain.

Listen to yourself. Write it down. Capture it.

4. Describe the “Consequences” of your Beliefs.

  • How are you feeling?
  • How are you behaving?

6 Steps To Train Your Brain To Think Like An Optimist
Become aware of how your wrongly held beliefs might be causing you to think or behave negatively. Is there anything you’ve stopped doing? Any new habits you’ve picked up?

For example:

In other words, how has your Adversity changed you?

5. “Dispute” what you’ve written so far with specific evidence that points out the flaws in your Beliefs.

Question the reality and accuracy of your interpretation.

For example…

“I’ll never get a job.”

  • Is that true?
  • Says who?
  • Have there been times when you have thought you’d never find work and did?

“This always happens.”

  • Can you think of an exception?

“I’m an idiot.”

  • Compared to what/who?
  • What is your definition of idiot, anyway?
  • Have there been times when you’ve shown practical or academic smarts?

Come up with an alternative (and more realistic) way of looking at what happened.

For example:

  • “Maybe I didn’t get this job because I was overly qualified or they hired someone’s sister.”
  • “Maybe this person broke up with me not because I’m fat, but because they have fear of commitment.”

Restate your beliefs so they’re more accurate.

Start your sentences with…

  • “My original beliefs are not completely true because . . .”
  • “A lucky outcome from all this might be . . . and I can do that because.”

6. “Energize” your mind and spirit.

Disputing often puts us in a resourceful place. When you have been effective in disputing the beliefs, you feel a surge of energy, a sense of renewed hope.

Write about how your answers to #4 improved your “Energy.”

Your goal:

6 Steps To Train Your Brain To Think Like An Optimist
Stop the “negative loop” of self-defeating self-stories and focus instead on the “upside of suffering and stress.”

(I write about this more in an article here.)

Swap feeling like you’re wearing a “KICK ME” sign – and start feeling like you’re wearing a “KICK ASS” sign!

Recognize that you are strong and worthy – and you have it within you to create the life you want for yourself – if you just take each day one day at a time!

Need more support to think happier?

I’d love to hear your insights on the comment section below! What’s something which comes to your mind and heart when you read my tools for letting go of anger at life?  Be specific! Share your personal story or a personal happiness tool! 

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Karen Salmansohn (Founder)

Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

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