What Is Optimism?

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at http://www.urbandojo.com/blog

It’s the beginning of a new month, and that means it’s time for a new Powerful Word!

Throughout May 2011, we’ll be working on the concept of “optimism.”

What is optimism? Optimism is all about looking at the bright side — seeing a challenge and knowing everything is going to turn out exactly as it should.

Powerful Words is the character development curriculum at Urban Martial Arts. It’s designed by one of the nation’s leading childhood development experts, Dr. Robyn Silverman. Every month, we focus on a different Powerful Word, or concept around character development.

Here’s a video from Dr. Robyn Silverman in which she introduces some of the concepts we’ll be covering this month:

Our students will get a real sense of what pessimism vs optimism means and how it relates to how people see and deal with challenges in their lives. Pessimists tend to see bad things that happen as permanent, pervasive, and personal. They see one bad thing happening as an indication that more bad things are on their way. Optimists, in contrast, see negative incidents as temporary and external– having no bearing on what’s to come in the future.

Optimism isn’t just great for attitude and outlook. It has many other benefits. On the flip side, pessimism can have many negative consequences.

Martin Seligman, a researcher in the field of optimism and happiness put it this way; “If you are a pessimist in the sense that when bad things happen you think they are going to last forever and undermine everything you do, then you are about eight times as likely to get depressed, you are less likely to succeed at work, your personal relationships are more likely to break up, and you are likely to have a shorter and more illness-filled life. That’s the main discovery I associate with my lifetime.”

Thankfully, there is such thing as “learned optimism” which necessities us to recognize the catastrophic things that we say to ourselves when things go wrong. If we are aware, we can become more optimistic by making optimism a habit!

Talk to your children about how you keep an optimistic attitude when it comes to unexpected challenges in your life. Discuss with them what they are learning in class and how they can create positive self talk and take positive accountability to stay in control of their attitude. Most of all, help them to reword negative pessimistic statements into positive, optimistic ones.

Hope you enjoyed this definition of optimistic attitudes! To give you more ideas for conversation topics, here’s a run-down of what we’ll be discussing over the next 4 weeks:

Week 1: Optimism defined: What is Optimism vs Pessimism?
Week 2: Dealing with challenges: How do we change how we think?
Week 3: Blame and Accountability: How do optimists vs pessimists cope?
Week 4: Inner talk and believing in oneself: How can we be more optimistic?

There’s no better way to drive home the lessons we teach at Urban Martial Arts than by reinforcing them… well, at home!

We’d love to hear how your conversations go with your child so do share with us!

Free Download: Special Report on Optimism

Fill out the form below to request a free PDF download of our special report:
“Why Optimism Matters: A Guide for Parents and Educators”

This special report is an excellent resource, whether you’re a parent who wants to instill greater optimism in your children, or you’re a teacher looking for character development lesson ideas in the classroom.

By filling out the form above, you’ll also receive a complimentary subscription to Black Belt Success, the email newsletter from Urban Martial Arts.