Optimism is a vital part of our Mental Fitness. In the words of a recent academic study:
“Optimism may significantly influence mental and physical well-being by the promotion of a healthy lifestyle as well as by adaptive behaviours and cognitive responses, associated with greater flexibility, problem-solving capacity and a more efficient elaboration of negative information.”
It makes us healthier, helps us adapt and is a key element in our resilience and performance.
So how do we get more of it? How can we cultivate our optimism?
The best teacher to turn to is the wonderful Martin Seligman and his classic book ‘Learned Optimism.’ He shows how, rather than being something we are born with, or is innate, optimism is something we can learn. And something that we can practice and get better at every single day, simply by using his ‘Dispute and Energize’ approach every time we encounter some kind of adversity or frustration as a way of reframing situations (and eventually rewiring ourselves so we become more optimistic all the time).
And it’s as simple as the first 5 letters of the alphabet.
The bigger or more sustained the adversity is the harder it can be to use disputation to reframe things. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes it requires us to draw on our relationships to help us with the disputation. If we do manage to then that can mean that the energisation that comes from being able to is consequently larger as well. The important thing is that we begin to learn to use our ‘D’ stage and see adversity as an opportunity to learn optimism. This is where coaching excellence has a transformative role to play (whether via 1:1s, group sessions or development workshops) to foster optimism by enabling insight, empowerment and action.
Want to take this further?
Do you want to gain insight into personal transformation? Do you want to learn how your own Mental Fitness can be the framework for understanding how you can develop greater self-awareness and grow in your own capability and resilience?
Or, if you play a role in your organisation’s development and that of those who work with you and their Mental Fitness, we’d love to talk.