How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic
What’s the Latest Development?
For college graduates entering a thinner job market saddled with debt and older adults trying to re-enter the workplace after a long hiatus, a dose of optimism could be a welcome change. For many people, unfortunately, optimism means positive thinking that is blind to the facts around them. Not so, says Elaine Fox, a psychologist at the University of Essex in England: “Optimism is not so much about feeling happy, nor necessarily a belief that everything will be fine, but about how we respond when times get tough. Optimists tend to keep going, even when it seems as if the whole world is against them.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Elaine has written a new book on the science of optimism called “Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain.” In it, she recognizes that while brain circuits vary from person to person, it is still possible to train your brain to be more optimistic. Among the ‘retraining’ methods she describes are: “Practice mindful meditation. Allow feelings and thoughts to pass through your mind without judging or reacting to them—that helps create a sense of detachment from negative experiences; Be fully engaged. Get involved in activities that are meaningful to you, whether it’s a career, hobby, sport or volunteering. Do it, as Bill Richmond says. Then learn how.”
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