Optimism Tip of the Week

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Entries in relaxation (5)


What You Need to Know to Get Out of a Negative Moment

 By Dr. Russ and Jackie Monroe

1.    Admit to the pessimistic moment of a bad attitude.
•    Learning to identify feelings and particularly negative emotions is an important optimism skill.  In order to overcome and manage a negative feeling we must first be able to recognize it and identify the reason for it.  Ignoring and suppressing feelings keeps them hidden from view and festering within us preventing past emotional wounds from healing.
2.    Identify worrisome thoughts associated with the negativity.
•    All feelings are triggered by thoughts both positive and negative.  Thus, we must learn to identify the underlying negative thought that triggers a particular “down” emotion.  Negative thoughts tend to trigger other negative thoughts that trigger other negative emotions. For example, the thought, “Oh, I might fail the test,” triggers mild anxiety, a rational response. But the associated thought, “If I fail the test, I will be a failure in life,” is an irrational response that triggers emotional despair.  Learning to recognize and eliminate such irrational thoughts from our mindset is an important optimism skill.
3.    Explore options with problem solving, creativity and a focus on what can be controlled instead of dwelling on what can’t be controlled.
•    Recognize and learn to discern “real” problems from “made-up” ones that are the construction of the over worried irrational mind.  “Made-up” problems are solved with the skill identified in step 2, above.  “Real” problems, such as a flat tire, a poor test grade, a philandering spouse require creative problem solving and getting help from others.  Such social problem solving skills once learned are honed and improved through life experience.
4.    Recognize that negativity is often “sticky” and can “hang around,” but it is still your choice to be positive.
•    Sometimes pessimism is “sticky” like gum on the bottom of a shoe.  No matter how much we believe negative circumstances ultimately “make us stronger” some are tougher to let go of than others, e.g., death of a loved one, being fired,  and social rejection to name a few.  The key optimism skill to be learned here is one of “mental compartmentalization:” the ability to set aside the negative thought from active consciousness if we can’t let go of it.
5.    Allow for catharsis, think about one thing for which you are grateful, and take a deep breath.
•    It is OK to cry, howl at the moon in private, or emphatically express your disappointment in words as long as you don’t make such venting habitual, and so long as you own your feeling as yours without blaming others as the cause of your unhappiness.  Thinking a grateful thought invariably improves mood and using diaphragmatic breathing automatically triggers the relaxation response.


A simple exercise in relaxation for better health

By: Jackie Monroe

It's Wednesday.  We've made it over half way thru the week! How's your optimism doing?

Have you taken some time out for yourself this week? Are you taking care of your mental, physical, and spiritual health? In order to be the most effective people we were meant to be, we must be balanced and aware of how our day to day stressors are impacting our health. As they say, "your wealth is your health."

Take moment to relax.  Take a few minutes for yourself and be washed by "The Water." This is the new amazing time lapse video by photographer Terje Sørgjerd.  If this cinematic gem can't bring your stress level down a few notches, you really need to unwind! Check out the TSO Photography Facebook page to see more amazing videos and images!


Unlock the Optimist's Secret: Make Your Own Luck

By Dr. Russ

Monday is Dr. Russ Busster Day.  On this first day of the week I post-up some TIPS for living more optimistically in every moment and help you BUSST-UP any pessimism standing in the way of your goals this week.

Today’s topic is luck.  While optimists are skilled at applying effort to accomplishing their goals and generally attribute their success to their own effort and ability, they also know how to create chance events and encounters in order to increase the occurrence of serendipity: a propensity for making fortuitous discoveries while looking for something different.

Psychologist Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, England, author of The Luck Factor, has studied, for over a decade, the differences between individuals who rate themselves as unlucky vs. lucky.  In one study, he compared these two groups and found that the self proclaimed "lucky ones" found money that had been placed on the ground along their path and struck up a conversation with a well connected business man that had been "planted" at a coffee shop.  In contrast, the self-rated unlucky ones never saw the money or made the networking contact. 

Ten Dr. Russ Bussters to Increase Positive Chance Events, Luck, and Serendipity

  1. Increase your extroversion: the more you interact with more and different groups of people the more likely you will come across a fortuitous encounter.
  2. Take a more relaxed approach: Studies of creative breakthroughs often note the key moment of insight came when the individual took a mental and physical break from the problem; took a walk, bike ride, or sat under a tree.
  3. Create general and long term plans, but remain open to a variety of ways to accomplish the goal.  Goals are more easily accomplished when there is openness and flexibility about the “how" of accomplishment, as then one can respond more easily to inevitable setbacks and roadblocks.
  4. Practice remaining open-minded about experiences in life “An open person heads to the dog park thinking he might encounter a potential new friend, business partner, or romantic interest. A closed person sees only the dog owners.” (Psychology Today, May/June 2010, p. 65)
  5. Do not close off a path too early.  Before exiting from what seems to be an unproductive path, asses whether or not your expectations are too high or too low.  Most new business plans falsely assume customers will be “breaking down the door” for the new product.  Make the phone call and ask her out for a coffee before giving up and saying, “She’ll never want to go out with me.”
  6. Maintain a large network of friends and acquaintances.
  7. Practice or seek training in “cognitive flexibility.” For example, think about  someone who holds the opposite position on Health Care Reform from you. List ten reasons why they might have good reasons to believe in their perspective.
  8. Maintain a positive mood. Anxiety and worry gives us “tunnel vision,” and recent research demonstrates that an individual in a positive mood actually takes in more visual information in any given moment.
  9. Practice doing something different several times a week. Take a different route to work; park in a different spot; or wear shoes without socks.
  10. Say YES to new opportunities. “Serendipitous people are more fearless about trying something new.  Instead of giving into thinking about what could go wrong, they think, ‘Isn’t that interesting? I’d like to give that a try.’” (Psychology Today, May/June 2010, p. 67)


Can Job Search Be Enhanced with Relaxation and Reflection of Vacation?

William Henry Nurmi II has a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a MBA from the University of Phoenix. Bill has a background in operations management, logistics, and sales. Bill is an avid bicyclist and is a volunteer on the board of directors at the Mission of Hope Cancer Fund. He lives in Lansing, MI and is currently seeking new employment while serving as a Post-Graduate and Career Transition Fellow of Optimism with Moment-to-Moment Enterprises.  Bill’s Fellowship project entails writing about optimism and providing advice and consultation on marketing, sales, and new program development.  Today’s guest post is the eleventh in a series of posts that Bill writes under the title: “Adventures of a Struggling Optimist.” 

Preface by Dr. Russ: I am really glad to have another "Struggling Optimist" blog from Bill.  I missed his witty insights last week.  After Bill debunks the criticism for taking a vacation while job searching, he tells how he took advantage of the warm sun and gentle sea breezes to do some genuine reflection.  Research on “insight” and “creativity” tells us that some of the best “breakthrough” ideas come during a relaxation break taken after deep problem immersion.

I'mmmmm Baaaaack!!!

It’s really good to be back everybody, well, pretty good to be back.  I missed last week’s blog because I was in sunny Mexico.   Please don’t ask me “Why did you go on vacation when you don’t have a job?”  The truth is, I don’t know.  My family invited me and I said yes; that is why I guess. Even the US Customs agent asked me why I went!  Geez people, can’t a guy leave town? 

I needed a vacation, so I took one. I had a full time job up until October of 2009 and had not taken a vacation in 18 months.  In addition, a full time job search has me just as busy and stressed as having a job.  Either way you look at it, I needed to get away for a week.  Why am I even justifying my reasoning here? I went, and that is that.

Relaxed Reflection after Problem Immersion

I was able to do some thinking while I was away.  The pleasant weather afforded me the opportunity to lay outdoors and reflect on the way I have been approaching my career transition, to assure that I am going in the direction that I need to be.  I was laying in my hammock reading a book with the breeze floating by when it occurred to me that maybe I could move to Mexico; at least it would be warm all the time! 

Mostly this is a fantasy; a dream world where I could live my whole life relaxing in paradise, like I was that quiet peaceful morning. This fantasy stirred up some thoughts and emotions in my head like poking a bee hive,  thoughts are flying everywhere.   I think I may need to make a move. 

Openness to New Possibilities

I guess I had never really seriously considered moving before.  I had thought about it, sure; it’s obvious enough in a career transition, but I don’t think I ever REALLY entertained the thought.  I say this because something has changed in me this past week. A switch has been tripped, and it’s telling me that it may be time. 

I am close to my family and friends here, both geographically and emotionally, though I have to consider what’s best for me.  Even if I do make a move it will not have to be forever.  I need to keep this in my head to avoid being overwhelmed.  I will of course make new friends if I move and can come back to visit family and old friends from time to time.  

I am not saying that I am packing my bags this week, but it’s a real possibility for me and I have officially begun to look in different areas of the county.  If I can’t find a job somewhere in this whole country, I will need to check my pulse!

Job Search Update

To keep my word and give an update on what’s been going on I will say that I was not chosen to move forward with the hiring process from that job interview I had a few weeks ago.  It sure is humbling to be turned down; no matter how many times it happens it does not get easier.  It is even more humbling to tell so many others about it in a forum such as this. 

I say things like “I did not really want that job anyway; it’s over 60 miles away from here”.  Keep in mind I say this in the same week I decide it may be time to move out of state!  It makes no sense.  The fact is that I am just protecting my ego; rejection is not easy.  This is also the same week, though, that I have submitted resumes to three other companies.  Now that’s something to be optimistic about!

Submitting Applications Spurs New Hope

One of the companies that I submitted to was one that has several positions posted, and has in the past as well, from what I have noticed.  Is this company really growing that much?  Do they just have really high turn over, which should give me a red flag so to speak, on whether I want to pursue the position? For this I am not sure, and it quite frankly is too early to consider those things when an offer has not even been made.

Staying in the Moment Keeps Optimism Abundant

I am, and need to remain, optimistic about the fact that I even have the opportunity to submit resumes for three different positions within one week! The fact here is that I am not only submitting resumes like crazy; I just came back from a wonderful trip, and I have the opportunity to perhaps make a move that could, and most likely will, change the course of my life and my future.  If this is not a life to be optimistic about, I don’t know what is.



Laura's Light and Lively Weekend Optimism: Give Yourself a Break!

Laura’s Light and Lively Weekend Optimism appears every Saturday.  A break from the more structured posting of the weekday Dr. Russ Buss blogs, Laura’s blogs tend to be much more personal and light.

Today’s topic: Give Yourself a Break, and Due Credit!

It’s amazing to me how much power the thought of vacation can have on a person!

No matter how near or far your vacation date may be, simply the thought of getting a chance to take a break is often enough to reenergize you, and help inspire you to keep pushing forward!

The thought of vacation can also be distracting, unfortunately!  I have five days before I take my break and truly get away from it all: I am going backpack part of the Appalachian Trail! I have to admit, these past few days, I have been fighting very hard not to “check-out” mentally before it’s time to leave!

While it’s important to stay focused and driven to do your job (whatever it may be…) well, it’s also equally important to give yourself a break!  I have a feeling that many people in the U.S. will agree that vacations are great ways to relax, recharge, and decompress, but I’m not sure everyone actually makes it a point to reward themselves with vacation frequently enough!

We are so work (i.e., money) driven in the States, I think many people forget that life shouldn’t be “living to work,” but rather “working to LIVE!” When I say “live,” I don’t mean paying the bills, and saving for your kids’ college education—while those are both important reasons to be gainfully employed, remember to take some time out to live by soaking up everything this life has to offer! Make some memories!

Vacations are also great excuses to buy yourself some new stuff...or in my case, gear! Here's to hoping I can make it through the entire trip without seeing a bear and shaking in these boots!!

Which brings me to my second point of today: Giving yourself due credit!

Unbeknownst me, many people in my life apparently did not peg me as the “type” to enjoy a wilderness “vacation” in which one: treks across treacherous terrain, may suddenly encounter large, carnivorous wildlife, is reliant on oneself to carry all of their own essential gear, sets up camp wherever they can find a flat enough spot, and must take “Leave No Trace” extremely literally!

So what? No showers, no bathrooms, no campground, no fire pits (or fires even allowed!), no easy run into town for dinner?  Ok—believe me, I see where many people’s apprehension comes from, and I am NOT saying I don’t enjoy resort vacations (that’s next year!!) but, did they all REALLY think I couldn’t handle it?  Or were they just projecting their own self-imposed limitations on me?

Either way, it doesn’t really matter.  The point is, I finally sat back for a while and realized exactly how stinkin' cool it is that I am about to embark on this kind of journey! I feel as though when I return, I will have reached a new echelon of “hardcore.” I will have conquered something A) I’ve never done before, B) that most people will never even try, and C) that some around me never even thought I would like!

That’s exciting to me, and I will be so satisfied with myself for having completed such a spectacular feat! I hope there are many more adventures of this kind to come!

Are there parts of your life experience that you’ve neglected to give yourself credit for?  Take a minute to reflect on all of the awesome things I know you have all accomplished… then plan yourself a vacation (even a mini, at-home one, if you must!) and give yourself a chance to slow down and make more memories! :)