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The Optimism Advantage

Optimism comes from a track record of overcoming adversity and challenges, one day and one choice at a time

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Dr. Terry Paulson’s classic book,  The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, isn’t just about managing your attitudes. It’s about shaping your world in a way that promotes optimism, energy, opportunity, and simple living.

Taking a stand for simpler living, Dr. Paulson writes, “Far too many people spend years gathering more things to fit into increasingly bigger houses only to spend their later years getting rid of things and craving simplicity and satisfying relationships. Why wait? Claim a little more simplicity now; avoid the wasted cost and stressful aggravation involved in competing for who can own the most toys and the biggest mansion.”

Taking Action

The Optimism Advantage deals with putting commitments into action. Optimists live “action imperative” and have a continual bias towards action. Instead of over-analyzing what to do, or lamenting their situation, optimists get busy doing.

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He shared a story of a housewife who was overwhelmed by the clutter and her commitment to bring sanity to her living space. She picked a room, set her kitchen timer for 5 minutes, and got started bringing order to her life.

After the bell went off, she continued for another ten minutes and was proud of going beyond what she had planned. She was pleased with her results and kept increasing her time commitment. She took back her world one room at a time.

One Choice at a Time

Optimism isn’t motivational hype; it comes from a track record of overcoming adversity and challenges one day, one choice at a time. The more challenges you overcome, the more confidence you have that you can do more.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Life

Finding Meaning in Daily Activities, Even Now

You are creating your life every day; every choice you make determines the quality of your life

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If you’re like me, each day you shudder to think what new, nation-destroying ploy, or blunder, the Biden administration will foist upon us next. In our own lives, nevertheless, while awaiting November 2022 and the chance to take back the Senate and House, we have the opportunity to find meaning nearly each day.

In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings, Rachel Remen tells a story about a doctor who had to deliver a baby in the hallway of the emergency room area. He had delivered other babies but not like this. While swabbing the baby’s face, she opened her eyes and looked right at him: he was the first person she had ever seen.

This experience changed the doctor’s way of proceeding. He regarded this as sacred moment. He remembered why he chose this line of work. He felt validated. His cynicism fell away. He became more invigorated, more inspired, and started to interact with more of his patients and his co-workers. Soon, he was invited to events he had never participated in before. His whole world opened up.

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Now, he seeks such moments constantly.

A Capacity that Builds

Finding meaning is a capacity that we build, like a muscle. When you first started in your current career position, finding meaning was not an issue. You were excited. There was so much you wanted to do. You had all kinds of plan. Then, years passed.

Little by little you became jaded perhaps. Why did I choose this line of work? Why can’t I find competent help? Why are customer or clients so demanding?

It is possible, even now in this time of turmoil, to reinvent yourself on the job, to rediscover what initially attracted you to this profession and what the current possibilities might be. Sometimes the re-awakening is triggered by attending a conference or convention, taking a course, reading a vital book, or spending time with a colleague or peer.

Goodbye to Yesterday

Today and the days that follow do not have to be extensions of what came before. You do not have to proceed into the future looking through a rear view mirror. A world of choices awaits, even if in the same old position you’ve been holding down for years.

Will you make new choices? And what will drive those choices?

Discovering or rediscovering meaning is about getting clear on what’s most important to you and aligning your choices with those priorities. It’s about living and working with intention instead of operating on autopilot or by default, where one day looks exactly like the next.

So, What Matters Right Now?

Start by identifying what’s most important to you …today, not what was important five, ten, or 20 years. Is it creativity, or perhaps collaboration? Maybe it’s impact or flexibility?

Next, identify what professional – and this might be different than your current profession! – and personal goals align with those priorities. What does living or working more creativity look like? If, say, collaboration matters to you, how can you incorporate more collaboration into the work you do?

From here, you’ll want to pinpoint actions or choices that support those goals. Where are your current choices in or out of alignment with what you’ve identified as most important? What new, more intentional choices can you make?

Each and Every Day

Consider this: You are creating your life every day. Every choice you make, action or inaction, determines the quality of your life. If not now, when: Making the choice to live and work with intention and in alignment is the key to cultivating a life of meaning and fulfillment.

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Life

Sleeping On It

The unconscious mind appears able to assess information and produce a satisfactory decision

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Sleeping on a big decision, such as buying a car or house, is more likely to produce a result with which people remain happy than consciously weighing up the pros and cons of the problem, based on the findings of Ap Dijksterhuis, Ph.D at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, in his classic article, ‘Sleeping on it.’.

“Complex decisions are best left to your unconscious mind to work out, according to a new study, and over-thinking a problem could lead to expensive mistakes. The research suggests the conscious mind should be trusted only with simple decisions, such as selecting a brand of oven glove.”

A Bamboozle

“Thinking hard about a complex decision that rests on multiple factors appears to bamboozle the conscious mind so that people only consider a subset of information, which they weight inappropriately, resulting in an unsatisfactory choice. In contrast, the unconscious mind appears able to ponder over all the information and produce a decision that most people remain satisfied with.”

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Dijksterhuis said, “We found that when the choice was for something simple, such as purchasing oven gloves or shampoo, people made better decisions – ones that they remained happy with – if they consciously deliberated over the information.”

“But once the decision was more complex such as for a house, too much thinking about it led people to make the wrong choice. Whereas, if their conscious mind was fully occupied on solving puzzles, their unconscious could freely consider all the information and they reached better decisions.”

Expectations Count

The unconscious mind appears to need some instruction. “It was only when people were told before the puzzles that they would need to reach a decision that they were able to come up with the right one.” If they were told that none of what they had been shown was important before being given the puzzles, they failed to make good choices.

“At some point in our evolution, we started to make decisions consciously, and we’re not very good at it. We should learn to let our unconscious handle the complicated things,” Dijksterhuis concluded.

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