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Mindset: Is Key To Success


Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 Mindset: Is Key To Success

John Naish of the Times (03 01 09) has written another very interesting account, dealing with how to achieve success. The biggest clue is to ‘acquire a positive mindset and the world becomes your oyster’. Sounds very promising.

In exploring his report, as readers, we can make up our own minds as to the validity of his opinion. The very least, we can draw out the positives and with a bit of discipline apply them to our everyday lives.

Naish suggests that we have all been in denial with regards to the economic downturn, we have splashed out over the festive season and now reality is begining to bite. Hold on though, all is not lost!

‘Mindset is all’, he implies that starting 2009 with a framework and ‘two scientifically backed character traits hold the key: optimism and resilience’. In addition he states, “if the prospect leaves you feeling pessimistically spineless, the good news is that you can significantly boost both of these qualities”.

According to Naish, being an optimist is crucial, there will always be plenty to keep any individual content. In that, one can always convince oneself that things will improve. Remember ‘that’ song, ‘Things can only get better’.

Notwithstanding as human beings, if we can gain the confidence that situations will improve, he argues, the chances of that occurring will most definitely improve, as we are playing the game. He says, from this view point, optimism “is a habitual way of explaining your setbacks to yourself”, reports Martin Seligman, the psychology professor and author of Learned Optimism.

Research carried out implies the when during tough times, optimists fare better than their counterparts. Indeed it has been identified that the optimist succeeds better at work, they respond better to stress and have fewer depressive episodes.

The report also suggests that the studies carried out show that belief is pivotal when dealing with issues such as the downward turn. With reference to a social forecaster at the Henley Centre, Chad Wallens, he surveyed and monitored middle-class Britons beliefs about income. His findings were that “the people who feel wealthiest, and those who feel poorest, actually have almost the same amount of money at their disposal. Their attitudes and behaviour patterns, however, are different from one another.” It’s almost like the question, is your glass half full or half empty syndrome.

Nevertheless, optimists are also defined as being more robust. In a study at the Yale university, 660 volunteers researched by psychologist Dr Becca Levy, found that thinking positively adds an average of 7 years to your life. This is useful as it has been argued that stress is a cause of premature death.

Furthermore in another study carried out at Harvard Medical school, 670 men found that the optimists have significantly better lung function. Leading author, Dr Rosalind Wright, believes that attitude somehow strengthens the immune system. “Preliminary studies on heart patients suggest that, by changing a person’s outlook, you can improve their mortality risk,” she says.

Moreover, Naish states that few “studies have tried to ascertain the proportion of optimists in the world. But a 1995 nationwide survey conducted for the American magazine Adweek found that about half the population counted themselves as optimists, with women slightly more apt than men (53 per cent versus 48 per cent) to see the sunny side”.

Moving on and evaluating the significance of resilience, identified earlier. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, trauma or tragedy. A resilient person may go through difficulty and uncertainty, but he or she will doggedly bounce back.

However being optimistic is vital when acquiring resilience. It has been argued that that resilient people learn to hold on to their sense of humour and this can help them to keep a flexible attitude when big changes of plan are warranted. The ability to accept your lot with equanimity also plays an important role, according to Yale University investigators in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology.

Notably, one of the best ways in developing resilience is through experiencing difficulties whilst growing up. Steven Stack a sociologist reports in the Journal of Social Psychology. For example, short men are less likely to commit suicide than tall guys, he says, because shorties develop psychological defence skills to handle the bullies and mickey-taking that their lack of stature attracts. Their counterparts who have survived adversity growing up can get derailed by setbacks later on because they’ve never been protected against aggression.

All is not lost on the adversity-free youths, practising proactive optimism can help you to become more resilient. Studies of resilient people show that they take more risks; they court failure and learn not to fear it.

Finally, it has been claimed that resilient people are generally more open that their counterparts. They have had to bounce back on several levels, but it is all part of the process of acquiring skills. Furthermore, it’s about optimistic risk-taking - being confident that people will like you. Simply smiling and being warm to people can help. Remember the old addage, hard times can bring out the best in you.

It would be very interesting to hear your views, and on a very final note, my glass is always half full!

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