The Science and Art of Optimism

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Written by Leonaura Rhodes

Looking to discover your optimistic side? Start with learning the science of Optimism.

Looking to discover your optimistic side? Start with learning the science of Optimism.

Optimism or positive thinking is the Holy Grail in my opinion, as our thoughts become our reality. If we are seek to find the positive in every situation, we will perceive ourselves as having more happiness, health, wellbeing and success.

The Science of Optimism

There is a even a branch of psychology, called Positive Psychology, led by Martin Seligman. Traditional psychology focuses on reducing suffering and mental illness. In contrast, positive psychology aims to increase wellbeing, which leads to the reduction of suffering and illness.  In his book “Flourish”, Selligman outlines complelling research which shows that optimism:

  • Enhances general psychological and physical well-being
  • Increases life span and is a major factor in recovery from serious illness, such as heart attacks
  • Lower rates of depression and stress
  • Improves immune system health including increasing resistance to the common cold
  • Builds resilience
  • Strengthens relationships

Optimism and children

Children model their parent’s behavior, more than anyone else’s behavior. I remember hearing my four year old say “that’s completely unacceptable.” I wonder where he got that from! Believe me, I know it’s hard to be positive, especially when things are difficult at home, but it’s well worth practicing being optimistic with, and around your children. If you do say something negative and significant, explain to your child that you could have been more positive. If you notice negative thinking in your child, mention it and model a positive spin, for them. For example your child says “I suck at basketball”; you say “you didn’t have a great game but you made a couple of great passes, don’t forget you are just learning, practice and you will get better”.

Teach your child that we all make mistakes: What defines us is how we respond after the mistake. You may chose to blame others, get angry or give up; OR you may chose to take responsibility, own up, say sorry, stay calm and become more determined to prevent the same mistake from happening again. Develop the mantra “there are no mistakes, only opportunities to learn”.

The Art of Optimism

If you are not an optimistic person, I have good news for you. Just like negative thinking, positive thinking is a habit which can be strengthened with practice. Meditation and journalling has been shown to be an effective way to increase optimism. Here are some ideas of what to journal about:

  • Something that made me happy today…
  • What went well in my day?
  • Something I am grateful for…
  • I felt engaged or passionate today when…
  • I felt good about myself because…
  • I am looking forward to…
  • I felt good about achieving…
  • Something I did today to enhance my relationships…
  • Something went wrong today, but this is what I learnt from it…

If you are an optimist then YAY… continue doing what you are doing. If you are on the pessimistic side, I hope I have convinced you that developing a more optimism, can have huge benefits and that increasing your optimism is easier than you might think.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

I have accepted that life is tough sometimes, but when I am optimistic things in life, just seem to go better, they just do! I am still working on accepting that I need to be patient, when working towards by goals.

What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I appreciate my health. Having worked with many thousands of people with health problems, I know for certain, that without good health life is an uphill struggle.

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

That I learned to be optimistic! I have experienced several bouts of severe depression in my life, and I am so proud that I became determined to find ways to help myself and others become happier, healthier and more successful. My goals and dreams: to share my message, with many more women, to help them realise they must nurture themselves

We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

OMG, so many! Shiny object syndrome, is one of my imperfections… I get bored and distracted easily. It’s the flip side of my creativity, which is a huge part of my identity.

“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)

Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?

I Love My Life! I am grateful everyday for my amazing life… the good bits, the bad bits, all of which make me who I am!


About the author

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Leonaura Rhodes

Dr. Leonaura Rhodes is UK trained physician, a Health and Happiness Coach, the author of Beyond Soccer Mom: strategies for a fabulous balanced life, a neuroscience expert, speaker, host of “The Busy Mom Show” and (not least) is herself an evolved soccer mom. She loves adventures with her family, kayaking and singing and letting her hair down at music festivals.

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