top of page


Updated: Aug 11, 2020

Andrea Seydel Live Life Happy Unconventional Book Club Highlight

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

Many people think that you are either a Pessimist or an Optimist. But did you know, you can measure it, learn it and teach it? Life inflicts the same setbacks on pessimists as optimists. But #optimist weather them better. According to the father of #positive psychology, Martin Seligman in his book Learned Optimism, he says you can change your mind and therefore change your life with Optimism.


Two Ways of Looking at Life:

There are two ways of looking at life. The characteristics of a pessimistic view of life is that they believe bad things will last long, it will undermine everything they do and that it is their own fault. An optimists view of life think about misfortune in the opposite way; Defeat is a temporary setback, it is usually just one case and is not their fault. Seligman's extensive research has shown Optimism is better for your health, #happiness, success, sports, level of achievement and can even ward off #depression. He has shown through science that pessimism is escapable and pessimists can learn to be optimists by adopting a new set of cognitive skills.

What's Your Explanatory Styles?

There is a choice in how we explain the world to ourselves. The secret lies in the explanatory style we construct. How do we explain a misfortune in our life? Is it permanent or temporary? Like "Diet's never work for me" or Diet's don't work when I'm on vacation." Is your explanatory style universal or specific? For example, "All teachers are unfair." or "Mr. Smith was unfair today." Is your style hopeless or hopeful? Like "Men suck" or "My husband was in a bad mood." Is your explanatory style internal or external? For example, "I have no talent with Tennis" vs " I have not learned tennis yet."

As you can see these explanatory styles of how you think about problems affect how you feel. Good news! You can change your explanatory style and any tendency to negatively ruminate.

Interrupting and Disputing Your Thoughts:

Seligman suggests the ABCD model to interrupt your thinking and create a different, more beneficial, explanatory style. A- standing for Adversity (setback) , B- for Belief (story you tell yourself), and C- for Consequences (feeling or action). The D is for Disputation (taking your beliefs or feelings to court). An example of this might be: A- Driver pulls into parking spot you wanted. B- You think___________. C- You get angry or you are not phased by it. Another example might be: A- You yell at your kids for not doing homework. B- You think you are a bad mother. C- You feel__________or do_________. It is really incredible how your thoughts create consequences and feelings. Dispute or redeploy your attention. Argue with yourself and your thoughts. Ask yourself, "IS THIS TRUE?" This model is empowering in that it helps you see your explanatory style and can be used as a prime technique for learned optimism.

Actionable Advice:

Don't wait until adversity strikes- try working through the ABCD model now.

Make note of how you explain misfortune to yourself and listen to your thinking.

How can you take a more temporary, specific, hopeful and external approach?

7 views0 comments


bottom of page