Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Over the last few months I have been reading Martin Seligman’s work. He has a pretty impressive resume to say the least. He’s a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, a best selling author and he has helped create a course in positive psychology for the US Army.

All of his work is steeped in scientific study. I definitely recommend checking out some of his books. I have read all of these, all are good, but if you are going to read one I’d read the first one.

  • Learned Optimism
  • What You Can Change and What You Can’t
  • Authentic Happiness
  • Flourish

What’s the difference between optimists and pessimists?

Well according to Mr. Seligman:

Pessimists think problems are permanent, and pervasive. Pessimists think wins are just temporary, happened by luck or chance and setbacks are permanent.

Optimists think problems are temporary and specific. Optimists think wins are permanent and setbacks temporary.

So which are you? If you say “realist’ then you are probably more of a pessimist. Pessimists tend to be able to judge things more realistically than optimists. However, optimists live longer, have better health, better relationships, are happier and more successful.

A few tips I learned:

  • Ruminating thoughts? Put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it every time you have a thought that you don’t want to think.
  • When you lie down to sleep at night focus on the thing you want to dream of. Imagine it and this will make it more likely that you will dream of it.
  • 3 good things. Write down three good things that happened to you today before you go to sleep.

Here’s a good resource.