MoHow Posted by Dr. MO Even as a child, James was described by teachers and his parents as a happy optimist. As the story goes, one day his parents decided to play a joke on him and test his attitude by requiring him to spend an afternoon cleaning deserted stables at what had been a local racetrack. Returning after two hours, James' parents observed him singing while happily shoveling manure.

astounded, they walked closer, only to hear him saying to himself over and over, "There has to be a pony in here somewhere." James did something that researchers are discovering is incredibly healthy, he thought optimistically. Optimistic thinking is a powerful antidote to feeling upset partly because the optimist has much better resistance to depression when bad events occur, and it leads to better performance at work, better physical health, and better relationships. Who wouldn't want to have such a positive attitude?

But what if you are pessimistic? Can you become an optimist if you now insist on seeing the glass as half empty rather than half full. The answer is yes, according to psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman; optimism is a mental skill that can be learned. Dr. Seligman is a past president of the American Psychological association and has a great deal of research and clinical evidence to support his theory. to become an optimist, according to Seligman, you must master the skill of positively arguing with yourself.

At its core, optimism is a style of interpreting events that occur in your is your personal take or explanation of the reasons good things and bad things happen. While everyone experiences both setbacks and victories in the normal course of life, contrast to pessimists... have a very distinct positive style of explaining things to themselves. The knack of disputing your negative beliefs is a thinking skill, the mastery of which can change you into the optimistic style of thinking.

There are four ways to do this:

1. Looking at the Evidence. According to Seligman, the most convincing way of disputing a negative belief is to show it is factually incorrect. Most of the time you will have "reality" on your side. Your role is that of a detective as you ask, "What is the evidence to support my belief?" Example: Is is really true that you NEVER succeed in anything? (Very doubtful. We all succeed some of the time.)

Using the skill of looking at evidence, you can defeat pessimism with more accurate perception and description of what is really true.

2. Consider Alternatives. Most events in the world can be explained as being caused in more than one way. Pessimists latch on to the most insidious ones; pessimists tend to give themselves and others a break. Example: A marital breakup usually has many factors which probably contributed to its downfall. Pessimists tend to blame themselves or their partner. A more optimistic interpretation is that neither partner failed as an individuals, it was the relationship (the combination) that didn't work.

3. Look at the Implication. If the facts are NOT on your side and you cannot honestly see other causes of a negative event, you can look at the implication of holding a pessimistic set of beliefs. Example: Is the event as catastrophic as you have described it to yourself? Usually the the implications or long-term impact of a misfortune are not as awful or devastating as the immediate thoughts describe them to be.

4. Look at the Usefulness of the belief. Even though a belief may, in fact, be true, it may not be useful. Some beliefs cause more grief than necessary. Example: You may tell yourself you are a failure after not succeeding in a number of initiatives. This belief will likely cause you to stop trying. Instead, substitute the more useful thought, "Just because I did not achieve what I wanted, this may mean I failed in the initiatives, however that does not make me a failure."

Optimistic thinking is a habit you can develop. With practice, momentum and improvement in your life will result.

Author's Bio: 

ACHIEVEMENT MAINTENANCE EXPERT: I have been providing guidance, support, training, and coaching to individuals and groups to help them maintain momentum in important projects, programs and initiatives and achieve their goals for over 20 years. Prior to that I spent 20 years in industry as an executive and consultant.

WRITER: I am the author of Momentum Mind: Achiever’s Mind, an interactive 35 lesson training program that is available on the website, as well as an ebook with the same title that will be available Spring 2013.. In addition I blog regularly at www.maintainmomentum/blog, write articles on the website, post often at, tweet at, and contribute articles on achievement, momentum thinking, motivation, inspiration, and goal maintenance on this website.

MOMENTUM COACH: I am known as Dr. Mo by coaching clients, members on the maintainmomentum website, colleagues and thousands of people around the world who read my morning email AmMo, and my blog, posts on facebook, and messages on Twitter. I have dedicated my life to helping individuals, groups, and teams keep the gains of their initiatives, projects and programs going over the long haul. I provide coaching service offline in my office practice and online through the Live! Video feature of

MAINTAIN MOMENTUM: I created to provide powerful, and cost effective interactive support, resources, advice, coaching, and training services to individuals, groups, and organizations anywhere in the world. Maintain momentum is the only website on the internet that is specifically designed to help individuals, groups, and teams stick with their initiatives, reach their goals, and sustain their benefits.