Our ability to adapt to stressful situations and life events also known as our emotional resilience, is influenced by many factors including biological variables, self awareness and regulation, mental agility, optimism, flexibility and relationships. Elevate offer a series of resilience workshops which look at all of these factors in detail. One of the most popular workshops amongst the series is the Learned Optimism workshop – our Founder Lucy Faulks shares her top three take away tips below.
Optimism is defined as a hopefulness and confidence about the future and success of things. Optimists have an expectancy that outcomes and the future are likely to be positive. This is in stark contrast to pessimists, who have a sense of doubt and hesitancy about the future, characterised by their anticipation of negative outcomes and a stormy future.
It won’t surprise you to hear that optimists live on average 15 years longer than pessimists. They’re also more resilient and adapt better to negative events, tend to give up less and enjoy better physical health than pessimists. Lucky them! But what if you’re not a naturally optimistic person? What can you do to help boost your outlook and reap some of the benefits optimists do?
1. MONITOR YOUR THOUGHTS. The key to learned optimism is carefully monitoring and recognising your thoughts. Once a negative thought is detected, try to consciously dispute that thought and look at possible alternative outcomes. This is also a real-time resilience skill which can help us respond (in real-time) to adversity more effectively. You can use sentence starters such as “A more helpful way to see this is…”, “that’s not true because…” and “If X does happen then I will Y…” to challenge these counterproductive thoughts.
2. CHANGE YOUR EXPLANATORY STYLE. Optimism isn’t just the tendency to expect things to turn out well, but also the way we think about the causes of adversity or the way we interpret both good and bad events in our lives e.g. our explanatory style.
For example, if a good event is experienced an optimist would show an ‘internal, permanent and universal’ explanatory style but a pessimist would be showing an ‘external, temporary and specific’ explanatory style. To put that into layman’s terms, an optimist sees the event as in their control (internal), an indication of future behaviour (it’s likely to happen again – permanent) and doesn’t generalise the event (it’s universal). Where as a pessimist sees it as out of their control (external), not a indication of future behaviour (temporary) and as a one off (specific). So by changing our explanatory style and seeing good events as internal, permanent and universal we can begin to build a more optimistic outlook and positive view of the future.
3. CULTIVATE A GROWTH MINDSET. In decades of research on achievement and success, world-renowned psychologist Carol Dweck found that a very simple idea – whether you have a fixed or growth mindset – makes all the difference. Thankfully our mindsets are not pre-determined, we can choose which mindset to take forward and a growth mindset can be learned and developed. Someone with a growth mindset, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence, but as a springboard for growth and stretching existing abilities. They see effort as the path to mastery and persist in the face of setbacks, they learn from and welcome criticism, find lessons and inspiration in the success of others and are able to bear uncertainty. Look closely at your relationship to failure and ask yourself, how can I better embrace a growth mindset?
Elevate offer workshops and consultancy around physical, mental and emotional wellbeing to businesses across the UK and Europe. Workshops include Learned Optimism, Emotional Intelligence and Boosting Resilience. For more information contact [email protected].