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  • Imagine you take two dogs and put them in two different areas...

  • You shock the first dog and you give him an option to escape.

  • He tries to escape, he's successful, and he gets away from the shocks.

  • The second dog however, you put in a place where no matter what he

  • does, he cannot escape the shocks.

  • He soon figures out that there's nothing he can do,

  • he gives up, and he'll just sit there and accept the shocks.

  • Now you take these two dogs and put them in two new areas again,

  • but this time they can both escape. The first dog, who had learned that he was

  • able to escape, will get out of there like usual.

  • But the second dog will just lay there and accept the shocks,

  • even though in this new environment he could just escape.

  • This is what is known as learned helplessness, and you probably know people who act like

  • the helpless dog.

  • The opposite of this is learned optimism. Learned Optimism is basically the idea

  • that you can learn to be optimistic, and positive, and happy.

  • You can cultivate these things. And this is exactly what Seligman was trying

  • to do, by running a workshop.

  • The results of the workshop were promising... Thirty-two percent of the students in the

  • control group had a moderate to severe episode of depression

  • in contrast to 22 percent of the group that was in the workshop.

  • Also... 15 percent of the controls had an episode of generalized anxiety disorder

  • versus only 7 percent of people who took the workshop.

  • They also found that it was the change from pessimism to optimism

  • that caused the prevention of depression and anxiety.

  • And these studies are great, but even when I look at my own life,

  • happiness, positivity, optimism... These are the things that I've had to learn

  • and that I have to keep cultivating. When I was a kid,

  • I hated my life. I was constantly depressed and anxious.

  • I had suicidal thoughts for the majority of my childhood.

  • But that's all gone now and my life just keeps getting better,

  • but this is something that you need to put effort into.

  • This is something that can be learned.

  • So now let's look at the benefits of optimism... Optimists on average achieve more,

  • have better overall health, and just lead a more enjoyable life.

  • Pessimists, on the other hand, are more likely to give up,

  • are more likely to suffer from depression, and just lead a not really enjoyable life.

  • And the big difference between pessimists and optimists

  • comes from their explanatory styles about whether things are permanent, pervasive, and

  • personal...

  • So let's say you walk up to a girl, and you just get humiliated and rejected...

  • If you're a pessimist you'll think that it's permanent:

  • "I'll never be able to attract a girl." If you're an optimist, you'll think that it

  • isn't permanent: "There are going to be plenty of girls who

  • like me." If you're a pessimist you'll think that it's

  • pervasive: "I'm just not an interesting person."

  • If you're an optimist, you'll think that it isn't pervasive:

  • "It was just one isolated situation. It doesn't mean that I'm not interesting."

  • If you're a pessimist you'll think that it's personal:

  • "I'm ugly. Of course she's going to humiliate me."

  • If you're an optimist, you'll think that it isn't personal:

  • "Well, she might have been in a bad mood..."

  • And I've seen this so many times. If you have a pessimistic explanatory style,

  • you're going to have your soul crushed. Every single friend I've had who was good

  • with women always had an optimistic explanatory style.

  • So optimism is much more helpful to you than pessimism but you also NEED BALANCE,

  • Just like with everything else, YOU NEED BALANCEOtherwise, you can get really delusional

  • and actually end up hurting yourself. Imagine if you have a really bad business

  • idea and youre just a naïve optimist

  • The business isn’t going anywhere and you say,

  • Well, this isn’t permanent...” And you keep wasting resources on a stupid

  • idea. Youve put in six months already

  • and it hasn’t gone anywhere and you say, “Well, it’s just this part of the project

  • that’s slow, but the project as a whole is amazing.”

  • Or you try to get support and no one wants to go along

  • with your terrible idea and you say, “Well, they were probably just in a bad

  • mood today.”

  • I don’t know if I would call this person an optimist or just an idiot.

  • The biggest problem with optimism is when it’s not balanced,

  • because you might end up not taking responsibility when you need to.

  • So I would absolutely recommend being optimistic but at the same time balancing it out with

  • pessimism, or not even pessimism in my opinion,

  • but just simply realism.

Imagine you take two dogs and put them in two different areas...

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B1 US optimism optimist escape workshop explanatory learned


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    Richard Ho posted on 2015/10/29
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