(originally titled: The Only Thing We Know For Sure Is That We Don’t Know Anything For Sure) Most of you who read my blog know that I am an optimist. I also believe in the power of positive thought. The way I see it, positive thought is different from positive thinking because just thinking of things doesn’t always affect them. But when you change your thoughts (or mindset) about things, it usually spurs the actions that lead to change. So imagine my delight when I came across the work of Ellen J. Langer who not only reinforces that idea about “thoughts,” but also offers research to support them. Calling on what she labels the “psychology of possibility,” Langer says that it “first requires that we begin with the assumption that we do not know what we can do or become.” In other words, the only thing we know for sure is that we can’t know anything for absolute certain. [Read more…]
I’ve been an optimist since the day I was born. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you probably think I’m either incredibly fortunate or unbelievably naïve depending upon your perspective. Yet after reading a new book, I not only understand a great deal more about what motivates me and why, I’ve also developed a much higher appreciation for those more pessimistic than me. In fact, sometimes the best approach for any of us is to ramp up our prevention-focus and practice a bit of defensive-pessimism depending upon the circumstances. That’s right, I now know that even a diehard optimist like me can benefit from being a little pessimistic. [Read more…]
Do you see the glass half-full or half-empty? Do you hunt down risk or avoid it like the plague? Do you prefer the excitement of adventure or the comfort of the familiar? Until recently I was under the impression that those questions simply determined whether a person was an optimist or a pessimist. However, now I know they actually reveal two different but important motivational perspectives—a promotional focus or the prevention focus. And while each of us tends to favor one or the other, we all use both ways to focus from time to time. What’s even more important to understand is how each kind differs and how using one or the other can go a long way toward helping us stay motivated, and live a more fulfilled and rewarding life.