Becoming an Optimist

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After reading Learned Optimism and understanding how to use the ABCDE method to start changing my pessimistic views and to overcome fears, I wanted to continue with this theme and made it my next resolution, which was:

My Quotation: “You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.”

Daily/Weekly Actions:

Problem Solve

Pick a Time of Day to Think

Listen to the Happier Podcast

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So, the first action was to problem solve.  Not my strong suit.  It was rare that I actually would attack a problem going on in my life.  I would skirt around it or make small changes but never the big sweeping action steps it would take to actually solve a problem all the way.  If you remember, problem solving was part of my “How to Improve Coping Skills” list as well.  Here’s more on why problem solving is important. “Work out what you need to do now to get over what is happened to you.  Talk to people and think about taking practical steps, such as finding a support group.  Sympathy feels good, and sometimes it’s tempting to be a victim and tell people how bad your troubles are, but problem-solving will be more constructive in the long run.”  This sounds very much like something a child should have learned.  Something I should have learned along the way at some point.  But, I did not.  I have notes written next to this action that say “budgeting – research in the fall.”  Money was at the forefront of my mind.  We’ve always had plenty of money.  My husband works very hard and is very successful, which we in turn thought the money never ended so we could spend and charge as we please.  Not the case.  That does catch up with you.  I also had MOUNTING medical bills.  Thousands of dollars with no end in site.  It was incredibly stressful.  These notes, were the very first time I ever thought about taking control of our money situation.  My son would be leaving for college the next year and there was money put away for him but not enough.  And the thought of taking on any additional debt just made my stomach turn.  Even though I did not take action on this immediately, I eventually did.  I woke up to the fact that we could not continue this path.  And I was adamant that no one was going to have debt, not my kids with student loans and not us either.  So for the first time in my life I started a budget.  I did my research, found a few extremely helpful podcasts such as HerMoney with Jean Chatzky and How to Money.  I took it all in, started my budget, attacked the debt, and started seriously saving not just for college for my kids, but for everything that would be coming our way in the next 5 years.  I sold a ton of stuff, I cut expenses, but mostly I PAID ATTENTION to where the money was going.  I discovered we were wasting money EVERYWHERE.  Literally throwing it away.  Having a budget, at first, seems restrictive, but it’s not.  I’ve never felt so free to spend in my life.  Not an ounce of guilt with any purchase, because it’s all accounted for.  I’m happy to say we are just about debt free now and the college savings are building. 

Until I had this project in writing and actually wrote down my resolution and took action, I would have never started this process. It just would have been another source of stress in my life, which was the LAST thing I needed at the time.

My second action of Pick a Time of Day to Think was straight out of Learned Optimism (Which you can purchase here if you’re interested. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400078393/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=myawakenedwel-20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1400078393&linkId=f5121b37228bba3162df147b18ecf86b) The idea is to use this time not to be anxious, but to use the time for problem solving and solutions. This forced me to stop stressing out every time something came up. I would put it aside and have a time, for me, usually in the evening, where I would sit down and sort through all the issues that have come up. Even though I might not come up with a solution immediately, I haven’t spent my whole day in a state of worry. Read more about this strategy here. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stop-worrying-anxiety-cycle_n_4002914

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My third action was to Listen to the Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin.  When I started this Happiness Project, I started looking into the work Gretchen Rubin had done since I had read the original Happiness Project eight years early.  I found she had written several more books! (yay!) and had a weekly podcast (also yay!).  I DEVOURED these episodes.  I had about two years worth to listen to. So to catch up,  I listened whenever I could.  So many fun tips and hacks that I will go into more later.  But for the most part just having this in podcast in my ear all the time kept some of my priorities in order and kept me on track.  I can say the same about the personal finance podcasts.  Podcasts are my new favorite thing! I rarely watch tv anymore.  Podcasts are where it’s at.  Any niche you are into, there is a podcast for it I promise.  I’ve learned SO much.  I can’t recommend them enough.  Also, it’s just so easy to have them on while I’m getting ready in the morning, doing chores around the house or driving. 

One more note about becoming an optimist.  I just want to share another piece from Learned Optimism.  Here Seligman provides the case against pessimism:

Pessimism promotes depression.

Pessimism produces inertia rather than activity in the face of setbacks.

Pessimism feels bad subjectively (blue, down, worried, anxious).

Pessimism is self-fulfilling.  Pessimists don’t persist in the face of challenges, and therefore fail more frequently – even when success is attainable.

Pessimism is associated with poor physical health.

Even when pessimist are right and things turn out badly, they still feel worse.  Their explanatory style now converts the predicted setback into a disaster, a disaster into a catastrophe.

Who would want to live this way?  Not me.  I decided I never wanted to live like this again.  My health was and is my number one priority and this was part of being healthy.

Do you feel like you are a pessimist?  Try the following:

Start problem solving.

Pick a time of day to think.

Find a podcast that will keep you on track that align with your goals.

I can’t wait to hear all about your progress! Thanks for being here!

2 thoughts on “Becoming an Optimist

  1. Sarah Condon

    Very thought provoking. I’m definitely an optimist, (but haven’t always been) and I think podcasts have a lot to
    do with that, as do reading material like this blogpost. Thank you. I love a reminder 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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