The Three O?s of Optimism

In Martin Seligman?s National Bestseller, Learned Optimism, he discusses the three P?s of Pessimism: Pervasiveness, Permanence and Personal.? Seligman notes that a pessimist is less persistent in dealing with setbacks or overcoming obstacles because the pessimist believes that when an obstacle presents itself,?it reflects that EVERYTHING is an obstacle, it will ALWAYS be an obstacle, and I (the pessimist)?will NEVER be any different (a hopeless, ?see, I told you so? perspective).???After reading Seligman?s work and making observations about pessimists I have encountered in my work and life, I decided we need The Three O?s of Optimism to remind us all of how we can shift our perspective from Pessimism (hopeless) to Optimism (hopeful).? The three O?s are Opportunity, Occasion, and Ownership.? Opportunity reminds us that setbacks or obstacles are just that ? blips in the road, diversions along the way ? which?are often opportunities for greater learning and insight.? For example, if my relationship with my manager is becoming strained (an obstacle to my performance) that is an opportunity for me to pause, think about what I want from that relationship, and plan what I want to say to my manager.? The strain (?problem?) is actually an indicator that we need to have a dialogue about our relationship.? We need to go deeper (?opportunity?).? At the end of the dialogue, we will undoubtedly have a stronger relationship ? impacting performance for us both.? Occasion reminds us that catastrophic language like EVERYTHING, ALWAYS and NEVER will by themselves make us less persistent!? We?ve given up before we even start.? Really, think about any circumstance?in which this generalized?language is true, or even remotely?useful.? It is?disengageing language; if we believe?that something is permanent, then it shall be?permanent?- because we have made it so.??We can look at all the moments in our lives as ?occasions? or occurrences: some are positive and some are not.? Ownership is a reminder that sometimes a setback or obstacle is a direct result of my personal actions, and sometimes it is not.? Sometimes, the setback is due to the actions of others.? I?am, of course, responsible for my actions along the way ? and those actions will be easier choices for me when I realize that the setback or obstacle is not permanent, pervasive, or personal!

Changing the three P?s to the three O?s will help?you to move into that new groove ? to recover more quickly from setbacks and to make the most of the learning opportunity in front of you.

How do you stay optimistic?

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