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Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Andrea Seydel Live Life Happy Book Club | Podcast | Writing Coach | Book Doula

Learned #Hopefulness: The Power of #Positivity to Overcome #Depression

Many people struggle with feelings of sadness and hopelessness—especially in our difficult, modern world. The good news is that you can change.

You’ll also learn to untangle yourself from rumination over past negative events, while shifting your perspective to the present moment and anticipating your future through a more positive lens.

***What if I told you there was an easier way to get more of what you want in your life—and less of what you don’t? Would you be interested? Hope gives us the needed energy to change for the better. Hope is perhaps our most treasured emotional asset.****

When Pandora opened the jar and released all the difficulties into the world, she closed it before hope escaped. Hope lived amongst all the disappointments and pain, so it knew them well. and hope was used to deal with them. Of all the positive emotions, hope is the only one the requires uncertainty or negativity to be activated—making it unique.

Hope brings us the motivation and emotional nutrients, such as perseverance from the difficulties in our life to grow. But what causes hope to happen? Is there something we can do to cultivate it?

My Overview #booksummary

**This book is not Pollyannaish but wise. Tomasulo doesn’t tell you to ignore the reality of your suffering; he teaches you how restore balance by increasing awareness and reframing what your future could be.***

This book will help you harness the gift of your imagination to get in touch—more deeply than you probably have ever been before—with your greatest strengths and highest possibilities in life.

In the framing of Maslow, this book will help you transcend the Deficiency Realm, and in the words of Tomasulo, tune into the “hope channel.” Disappointment, frustration, and the unknown are hope’s necessary ingredients.

By refocusing on the positive potential that already lies within, you will restore a greater sense of hope than you ever thought was possible. Focusing on what can be done in the future rather than on what happened in the past is key to understanding how hope can help..

Joy, serenity, interest, awe, amusement, gratitude, and the like do not need negativity or uncertainty as kick-starters. Hope springs from uncertainty or negativity the same way the lotus comes from the mud. Hope is a cousin to optimism.

Optimism is the more generalized belief the future will have positive outcomes. Hope comes from the belief you can do something to control the future. This is important because it is about what you believe you can do. The degree to which we expect we can influence the future determines our hope. We are hopeful when we believe we can—hopeless when we think we can’t.

Henry Ford has said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

The science of psychology has focused on alleviating suffering with an emphasis on reducing or eliminating negative emotions. It is only in the past twenty or so years that science has turned its attention to positive emotions such as hope. We are finding that it is a teachable resource for transformation. We’ve learned from those with high-hope that the power comes from their beliefs.

Try this experiment. Imagine you have a lemon in front of you and you take a huge bite out of it. What happens? Your mouth produces saliva- even though the lemon is only in your imagination. You were able to change your body chemistry by focusing your thoughts in a particular way. This is what happens when we hold onto negative thoughts and beliefs. Our bitter approach to life comes through because our thoughts make it real. Yet the opposite is also true. If you imagine someone you love, the thought can change your sour disposition into something sweet.

Unconventional Book Club

Andrea Seydel

Mindmeister MindMeister: Online Mind Mapping and Brainstorming (link)

Recalibrate Goals

As longer-term goals become more uncertain, there is a considerable risk of depression. Micro-goals can recalibrate our focus, allowing us to reengage.

Think about ways that you can accomplish goals within brief time limits. Something you can plan, expect you can do, and accomplish in 20-30 minutes, or even a couple of hours will awaken your hope circuit.

What generates hope is the belief you can control some aspects of your future. Planning a meal, taking a walk, answering three emails, making the bed, cleaning the closet all have tremendous value in helping you reengage and feel better about your life in those moments.

Hope is generated when we can detect and expect to have control in the future. Micro-goalsetting can help us get there.

CONSIDER: What are some Micro-goals you can set up to generate more Hope.

Express gratitude, kindness, and compassion.

THE Pebble Feather SCALE: Hope isn’t something we either have or don’t have. Instead, it is cultivated and regulated by engaging in small doses of positivity. The scale between positive and negative thoughts is a balance between pebbles and feathers. Negative thoughts are more potent because of a negativity bias—they are like pebbles on a balance scale. Worrying has helped us survive, but these pebbles can tip the scale and keep us in a downward spiral if we worry too much. Positive thoughts are like feathers. They can outweigh the pebbles—but you need a lot of them.

Being intentionally positive can restore a necessary balance. It is in these small but genuine ways that accumulated positivity can help hope gain momentum toward a tipping point.

Regularly thanking people and making an intentional effort at being kind can add the needed feathers to you and others and help tip the scale in the other directions.

How can you engage in doses of positivity to tip the scale to outweigh the pebbles?

Cherish Relationships

More engagement with family and friends. This is how you add feathers by the bushels. By developing better relationships now, they are building a foundation for what Maier and Seligman said matters most: “… expectations of a better future…” HOPEFULNESS

How can you foster current relationships? What new connections can you make?

CHOICE YOU CAN MAKE To Learn Hopefulness

CULTIVATING HOPE EXERCISE: Take a moment to think about how hopeful OR hopeless you are right now about your future or an aspect of your future 1-10 (10 very hopeful) Now, take about 10 minutes to walk yourself through these choices...Think about how can you cultivate these choices as habits to increase your hope. (Ex. Find my BeLoved 5 Currently) ...

Seeing possibilities: Challenge Beliefs about our limitations

Adjusting Perception: Transforming negative beliefs into hopeful ones

Shaping Feelings: Cultivating positive emotions

Exploring strengths: Discovering your best character qualities, to improve your life

Creating micro-goals: Setting goals calibrated to motivate you

Finding purpose: Developing life priorities and determining what matters

Cherishing relationships: Connecting to others and learning how to give and receive.

Listen to the entire Podcast episode here:

LET'S CONNECT:  Live Life Happy with Andrea Seydel 


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