Optimism Leads To Action—Not Just Happy Thoughts
I’ve been hearing a lot about this book lately—looks interesting. From Deborah Kotz, writing on the website of the Boston Globe:
“A book published this week provides a roadmap for rewiring the brain and redefines what optimism is. ‘It’s not just positive thinking but for positive actions,’ said Oxford University cognitive neuroscientist Elaine Fox, author of the book, Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain. Persistence is key: Rather than sitting and passively waiting for life to happen, optimistic people take steps to implement their goals. A 2005 University of Kentucky study found that optimistic folks spent a minute longer trying to solve an unsolvable anagram word puzzle than those who were more pessimistic. “They literally don’t give up as easily and this links to greater success in life,” said Fox. ‘Optimists tend to think they can change things; they have a real sense of control, even if it’s illusory.’
Clearly, we need our darker side to pull us back from ultimately fruitless pursuits, but overall, we’re better off believing that we can surmount any challenge life throws our way. ‘Optimism needs to be tied to realism,’ explained Fox, ‘understanding that things are going to go wrong but that you’ll be able to deal with them.’” Read more here.
I like Fox’s emphasis on the practical value of optimism. It’s not just thinking happy thoughts—it allows us to take risks and persist in the face of challege, Very reminiscent of Carol Dweck’s ideas about the “growth mindset.”