“Your focus becomes your reality,” or so says Liam Neeson’s Jedi to a young Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode 1.
The dialogue noted above is related to the power of positive thinking. This term — which originated as the title of Norman Vincent Peale’s controversial 1952 book — is now the slogan for the self-help movement.
But does it? Does glass-half-full, positive thinking, really matter?
These sort of questions have come to mind as BR seems to have morphed into the 9-year-old version of Tony Robbins.
In the last week or so BR is regularly giving me high fives for effort, calling out such encouragements as “nice try” or “nice one.” He has offered comfort by telling me, “at least you tried.” Unfortunately, there have been some flashes of negativity and a couple of minor meltdowns as well, but I bet even Robbins, Dale Carnegie, and Ekhart Tolle get frustrated once in a while.
My wife and I were discussing our positive little guru the other night. One question arose. What has inspired this?
Now don’t get me (or my wife) wrong. It’s nice to see BR so positive though watching him call out encouragement to the baseball players on the Wii is amusing.
Anyway, we could not answer what has gotten into BR. He did start a social skills camp the other day. The camp’s philosophy is based on the comic book You are a Social Detective by Michelle Garcia Winner, Pamela Crooke and illustrated by Kelly Knopp. The purpose of the book/camp is to help children become good social detectives by using their “eyes, ears, and brains to figure out what others are planning to do next or are presently doing and what they mean by their words and deeds.” (http://www.socialthinking.com/books-products/mental-health) My wife swears these books have helped BR to become more aware socially. I think the camp has had an effect but this ‘everybody-is-a-winner-type attitude’ began before the camp.
But does being positive really matter? Well, Michael F. Schier certainly thinks so. Schier is the co-author of a seminal 1985 study, “Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies” in Health Psychology. In an interview from April 20th, 2012 that appeared in The Atlantic, Schier said, “I think it’s now safe to say that optimism is clearly associated with better psychological health, as seen through lower levels of depressed mood, anxiety, and general distress, when facing difficult life circumstances, including situations involving recovery from illness and disease.”
Martin Seligman who wrote a book in 1990 entitled Learned Optimism concurs that there are many benefits to having an optimistic outlook. Seligman says that, “Optimists are higher achievers and have better overall health.” On the other hand, “pessimists are more likely to give up in the face of adversity or to suffer from depression.” Seligman, similarly as Schier, believe that optimists have better coping strategies and are more easily able to overcome setbacks. Most importantly, Seligman believes pessimists can learn to be optimists.
It seems clear there are benefits to having a positive attitude. After all, don’t we all prefer to be around happy people? So while I am uncertain over the exact reason and benefit of BR’s positive attitude, I do enjoy the results. Great job, BR!