Home > Children, Elementary Education, Family, Montessori, Optimism, psychology, Routines, Values and Ethics > Yes, You Can! More on the Psychology of Optimism

Yes, You Can! More on the Psychology of Optimism

Breaking Murphy's Law

Breaking Murphy’s Law

I read a great article on optimism by Jane Broddy in the Tuesday Health Section of the Times (A Richer Life by Seeing the Glass Half Full, 5/21/2012). Optimism, as you read in my blog last September, is the greatest gift we can give our children. And Broddy gives a short primer on steps we can take toward that goal.

My favorite part of Broddy’s article recounts the way confidence and optimism opened doors for he. She writes,

“When I applied at age 24 for a job as a science writer at The New York Times, an interviewer said I was foolhardy to think I could be hired after just two years of newspaper experience. ‘If I didn’t think I could do the job, I wouldn’t be here,’ I told him.

It turned out to be just what he wanted to hear, and I was hired. Since what I loved most was researching and writing articles that could help people better understand science and medicine, I stayed focused on my goals and declined opportunities to move up in the organization by becoming an editor.”

Broddy cites a book on optimism called Breaking Murphy’s Law by Suzanne C. Segerstrom, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky.  To be more optimistic, according to Segerstrom, you should act optimistically. Optimistic attitudes arise from patterns of optimistic behavior.  She applies the addage “Fake it until you make it,” to optimism. Or in Broddy’s words, “If you behave more optimistically, you will be likely to keep trying instead of giving up after an initial failure.”

And Broddy adds, “Research has indicated that a propensity toward optimism is strongly influenced by genes, most likely ones that govern neurotransmitters in the brain. Still, the way someone is raised undoubtedly plays a role, too. Parents who bolster children’s self-esteem by avoiding criticism and praising accomplishments, however meager, can encourage in them a lifelong can-do attitude.”

Yes, we can.

And our children can too!

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