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Tag Archives for " optimism "

Sep 07

3 Proven Psychological Strategies to Add Years to Your Life!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Confidence , Self Improvement , Stress Management

No, we haven’t found the fountain of youth. However, psychologists and neuroscientists have conducted a ton of research regarding how people can flourish in this life and enjoy happiness, while actually extending their lives— in both a physically and mentally healthy way. This post truly captures the essence of the three most powerful, research-based psychological strategies to make this happen – quickly and permanently!

1. Maintain optimistic expectations

Optimistic expectations can help you challenge setbacks that come your way. Neuroscientists have discovered that self-talk can actually re-wire your brain in either a very positive or very negative way, depending on whether it is optimistic or pessimistic. This re-wiring process is called “neuroplasticity.” One of the best ways of changing your thinking is to develop an optimistic interpretation of negative events that you experience.

Burgeoning research by Dr. Martin Seligman (“Learned Optimism”) involved hundreds of studies where people were trained to change their hard-wiring from reacting to disappointing events pessimistically, to reacting optimistically. Thus effectively changing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness (the main contributors to depression) to hope and self-confidence helped them eliminate their feelings of depression.

Many of these studies also show when people develop an optimistic attribution of negative events, they can often recover from the physical challenges associated with chronic depression and anxiety.

So, how do you explain setbacks and unfortunate events to yourself?

How do you persevere and remain resilient under adverse circumstances?

Do you look at setbacks as overwhelming catastrophes or as hurdles that can be overcome?

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How Pessimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this kind of self-talk as “linguistic toxicity.” When bad things happen, pessimistically hard-wired people tell themselves such things as:

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my fault.”)
  • Permanent (“It’s a permanent flaw.”)
  • Pervasive (“It’s always going to be this way for the rest of my life.”)

How Pessimistic People View Good Outcomes

When good things happen to pessimistically hard-wired people, they view it as

  • External Cause (“It was a fluke, or luck.”)
  • Temporary (“This won’t last.”)
  • Exclusive (“I was lucky with this, but the rest of my life is awful.”)

How Optimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this type of self-talk as “linguistic nutrition.” People who are hard-wired, or learn to give themselves optimistic explanations for setbacks, view them as follows:

  • External Cause (“This was a fluke and an exception to the rule of how things go with me.”)
  • Temporary (“This is a fluke occurrence. It won’t happen again.”)
  • Exclusivity (“I had difficulty dealing with this, but in the rest of my life I am thriving.”)

How Optimistic People View Good Outcomes

People that are optimistic expect good outcomes to occur frequently.

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my skills, work ethic and motivation that caused this to happen.”)
  • Permanent (“I certainly expect good things to continually happen to me.”)
  • Pervasive (“This is just one example in my life where I have the skills and talent to be successful.”)

Obviously, it is extremely important for people who are not hard-wired to attribute unfortunate outcomes in an optimistic sense, to learn how to remove their pessimistic thinking habits, and change them to positive thinking.

2.  Laugh as often as possible

Research on the amazingly powerful effects of laughing on the body and mind started with the groundbreaking book by Norman Cousins (“The Anatomy of an Illness”).  Cousins chronicled how he completely recovered from a terminal diagnosis by laughing out loud several times a day, for at least a few minutes each time.  He produced the humor by watching the funniest videos he could find (“The Three Stooges,” “Candid Camera,” and others) while hospitalized for his illness.

Once he saw how his pain subsided while laughing, he convinced the medical staff to take his blood pre and post laughing episodes.  The results were remarkable.

His symptoms immediately went into remission, and he helped fund massive research projects studying the power effects of laughing and having fun on brain chemistry, and the eradication of physical symptoms.  One of the more modern advocates of the power of bringing fun and humor into ones’ life is Dr. Steve Allen, Jr., a physician and the son of the famous comedian, Steve Allen.

3.  Maintain a strong support system of friends and family

Depression affects nearly 15 million Americans and each year close to 43,000 commit suicide in this country. Recent research into how to minimize depression without using psychotropic medication demonstrates the idea of an “Anti-Depression Toolkit.”

Three powerful tools in the toolkit are are:

a) using healthy self-talk (“linguistic nutrition”)

b) any form of spirituality, including prayer and meditation

c) frequent exercise.

However, the most important “tool” by far is having a caring, empathetic, and non-judgmental support system.  While depressed individuals often lack the energy or motivation to reach out, it is a critical component of mental health. For example, widows and widowers are particularly vulnerable—having lost their soul mate, and they can slip into depression if they do not build an alternative support system. If you suffer from depression, you must also stay away from critical, judgmental, anxiety-provoking, and demanding people. You can always consult with a therapist to decide who to include and exclude from your network.

Research shows that when one has a strong support network their emotional strength grows. This means getting involved with an objective sounding board of like-minded peers, and removing yourself from the isolation that accompanies depression. Social interaction is conducive to a healthy and active lifestyle.

There you have it. Do you want to build amazing resilience to stress, add joy to your life, and extend your well-being far more than you have ever dreamed? Add an optimistic and expected habit. It brings fun and laughter into each day, and nourishes your support system.

May 26

The Important Link Between Optimism and Sales Success

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Confidence , Sales Professionals , Self Improvement

How do you explain unfortunate events to yourself, such as not getting the sale? Is the tone of your self-talk optimistic or pessimistic? As it turns out, the way you explain negative life events matters because there is a link between optimism and sales success. Based on over 1000 studies, we know that optimism has the power to boost your sales.

Research on the link between optimism and sales began with an investigation of a major life insurance carrier, and since then it has been replicated in more than 1000 studies over 40 years, across many industries and sales organizations. The findings of these studies proves definitively that maintaining an optimistic explanatory style brings dramatic success.

Optimistic VS Pessimistic Explanatory Styles

Explaining Failures

It boils down to how you explain unfortunate events to yourself.  For example, if a sales professional has a disappointing sales call, how does he/she react and explain that disappointment to himself/herself?  People with an OPTIMISTIC explanatory style rationalize the “failure.” They see it as a fluke, a temporary setback and not representative of who they are in general.

A person with a PESSIMISTIC explanatory style, on the other hand, will view unfortunate events as directly related to their inadequacy. They see it as a permanent issue and representative of other “failures” in their lives.  They often view the situation as an insurmountable obstacle and conclude that they may need to consider a change in career.  Sales professionals who quit or are fired are most often pessimistic in their explanatory style.

Explaining Successes

When good outcomes occur, such as closing a sale, OPTIMISTS believe it was exactly because of their skill. These successes will repeat themselves and they view the success as proof that they have the talent to continue to be successful.  Optimists have what social scientists refer to as an “Internal Locus of Control.”  They perceive that outcomes are in their control.

When good outcomes occur to PESSIMISTS, they are more likely view them as “lucky.” The success was temporary and not indicative of their skill and effort.  Pessimists embrace an “External Locus of Control,” where they believe that circumstances beyond their control impact them constantly.

This ground-breaking research by Dr. Martin Seligman led to a questionnaire which can easily determine whether someone tends to maintain an optimistic or pessimistic explanatory style. Knowing the link between optimism and sales, companies often use this instrument to select the optimistic applicants.

Want to learn more? Check out Dr. Seligman’s book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. You can also take this Learned Optimism quiz from Stanford, which is adapted from the book.

Research on Optimism and Sales

Here is a sample of the many research findings that show a clear link between optimism and sales:

Insurance

Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 38 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 88 percent.

Real Estate

Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 33 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by a whopping 319 percent.

Banking

Top sales people are 25 percent more optimistic than below-average sales people.

Automotive

Optimistic sales people outsell pessimists by 20 percent, and optimistic sales managers outsell pessimists by 27 percent.

Telecommunications

Optimistic sales people outsell pessimists by 29 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 39 percent.

Customer Service

Top customer service staff are 50 percent more optimistic than below-average staff.

In addition, optimism is good for more than just posting excellent sales numbers. Research also shows that optimistic people live longer and have stronger immune systems.

The link between optimism and sales may have you wondering – are you doomed if you are hard-wired with “Pessimistic Genes?”  Absolutely not!  Developing optimism can be easily learned, so there is hope for all professionals. Every individual can start today by practicing a more optimistic style of self-talk. Also, if you think your sales team could benefit from a lesson, I am available to help – just email me at DrJack@FunSpeaker.com or give me a call at 800-497-9880.