Have you ever listened to a promo for the 11:00 news and heard something like this: “Family’s house burns down, all is lost, stay tuned at 11:00.” Then you listen in and, in fact, all has been lost — the house as well as all the belongings. Yet, the family is interviewed and manages to seem okay reporting that at least they all made it out including the cat. The kicker is that they also report looking forward to the opportunity to building a new and better house!
Why is it that some people can face adversity without experiencing so much stress? How is it that some people can deal with challenges and see them as opportunities? It turns out that these individuals have a trait called hardiness.
Dr. Martin Seligman, in his introduction of the concept of Positive Psychology, called upon the psychological community to embrace the notion that rather than the customary pathologizing that is done of people in our society, we look instead at their positive traits.
Having taken his very first class in Positive Psychology, I remember his asking, “What’s right with you?” It seemed like such an odd query since most of us are accustomed to the opposite one: “What’s wrong with you?”
At the risk of over-simplifying his exquisite system, the main idea is that people are born with strengths and skills. Some people are born with the ability to be hardy; some are resilient (they bounce back easily from adversity). Seligman says that it’s important to learn about these traits and teach them to others. It has clearly been shown through research that having a positive or optimistic attitude is a clear benefit to dealing with stress.
What it means to you
Certainly, in today’s economic climate, most of you are feeling quite negative. It’s probably being manifested in feelings like anxiety, depression, or fear. But none of these are helpful in dealing with the situation. As a matter of fact, the experiencing of strong emotion will get in the way of effective problem-solving.
I have no doubt that these feelings are also impacting you in a number of areas — in your relationships, with your children, in how you feel about yourself. And though you can’t control the external situation, you can control how you react!
An article I read recently spoke about the fact that there are some people who seem to have the kind of personality that is allowing them to deal more easily with today’s economic crisis. They seem to look at it as a challenge and as an opportunity for creating different possibilities. Though the article didn’t use the word ‘hardiness,’ I have no doubt that these persons have this trait.
But here’s the good news: You can make lemonade out of lemons, too! There is a “silver lining.” Here’s a quick example: We’ve all gotten so caught up in technology and the stress of everyday living that often our immediate family is no longer the priority they should be. But by having to save money and get back to basics, like entertaining through board games and playing charades, I do believe it will help us re-connect.
I felt so strongly that we were all being inundated by negativity that I created a teleseminar, Psychological Bailout, to offer concrete tools to assist during this time. I’m offering an MP3 download of this 45-minute call that’s packed with positive and uplifting information. If you’d like to learn more about it, check out here: Staying Up When the Dow is Down.
The important thing to remember is that you have a choice in how you react. And if you can focus on the positive, it will serve you more. Lemonade is oh so tasty!