Bruce MacLelland wrote, "You are what you think, not what you think you are." At the heart of flourishing is resilience. Being a resilient person starts with attitude. Attitude about…
• One’s self
• One’s abilities
• One’s goals and dreams

This begins with self-confidence. Self-confidence is a fundamental conviction about one’s competence and abilities. Having a positive self-image is critical if a person is to have the ability to confront and manage fear and anxiety in his or her life.

A resilient attitude is about one’s self-worth. Believing one is worthy of success and happiness is necessary in order to improve one’s life. Our self-worth drives our motivation to succeed.

The Formula: Self-confidence + Self-worth = Self-esteem

Self-esteem is the combination of our self-confidence and our self-worth. It is the unconditional appreciation of one’s self. Nathaniel Branden, author of "The Power Of Self-Esteem" wrote: "Self-esteem is the experience that we are appropriate to life and to the requirements of life."

More specifically, self-esteem is…

1. Confidence in our ability to think and to cope with the basic challenges of life.
2. Confidence in our right to be happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants and to enjoy the fruits of our efforts.

At the heart of our self-esteem is our outlook, that is, having a positive/optimistic view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities.

Let me be clear. When I talk of optimism I do not mean that rose-colored glasses, Pollyannaish way of looking at the world. Optimists see tragedy just fine. Optimists know bad things happen. But what separates optimists from their pessimistic brothers and sisters is how they move forward in their thinking and actions relative to those events.

Much of the way we view the world has been shaped by the messages we received as children. (Habits that serve us; habits that don’t serve us. – Aristotle) So, let me ask: Do you view yourself as an optimist or a pessimist?

I was fortunate to grow up with women who were remarkable optimists. My mother and my maternal grandmother — women who lived through great difficulties, such as the Great Depressions, single-parenting, loss of children and spouses — still managed to demonstrate the belief that things will always work out in the end.

I was well into my teenage years when I learned that not everyone grew up learning this positive outlook. A dear, childhood friend was taught differently. She received messages such as:
• Feeling good about yourself? Be forewarned. There will always be someone who can’t wait to knock you down.
• Just because you did well today doesn’t mean you will tomorrow.
• If you expect the worst, you’ll never be disappointed.

According to Dr. Martin Seligman’s theory of learned optimism, optimistic children grow up to be optimistic teenagers and adults. In his book, Learned Optimism, Seligman states that there are three factors that determine a learned optimistic paradigm:

1. Optimism is acquired from our mothers. How our mothers reacted to problems set the stage for our own reaction to difficult situations. If mom dealt with everyday problems with a bright and hopeful outlook, then we, as children, learned to do the same.
2. Optimism is influenced by the adults around us. The way adults (parents, teachers) chastise us can leave a lasting impression on how we perceive our own abilities.
3. Optimism is shaped by family turmoil. Family crises such as divorce or the untimely or tragic death of a family member, can contribute to a child’s general view of life later life.

To break it down succinctly, the optimist …

• Views life positively

• Takes life as it is

• Is open to possibilities

• Has a sense of humor
- particularly about one’s self

• Is rational
- Uses reason rather than being led by fears and desires
- Objectively assesses situations
- Takes action based on those assessments

As Robert Brault so fittingly said, "The realist sees reality as concrete. The optimist sees reality as clay."

Author's Bio: 

Rita Schiano's program, Live A Flourishing Life™ melds her three professions — philosophy instructor, stress management instructor and trainer, and writer. The workshops and book, "Live A Flourishing Life," includes numerous thought-provoking exercises, questionnaires, and quizzes to help you dig deep into your life story to uncover and discover long-standing attitudes and habits that influence your life.