Eight Steps To More Optimism

Written on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 at 12:10 pm by Christiane

 “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate” (Thomas Watson). “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” (Winston Churchill)

There are many quotes and inspiring stories about optimism, perseverance and how failures ultimately turned into successes. Just think for a minute about Abraham Lincoln’s political career. I think nobody questions that he was a very successful politician up to becoming president. Still, there were several setbacks in his career where he ran for office in congress or senate and didn’t make it – but he never gave up.

Inventor Thomas Edison spent countless of hours on the development of the carbonized cotton-thread filament for the incandescent light bulb. When a reporter asked him about the failures, Edison supposedly answered “I didn’t fail; I found out 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.” (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/National_Treasure_(film) )

Most of us would have given up earlier or not even started the endeavor.

Why some people are willing to embark on a long journey toward a difficult goal and others don’t even try is a question many psychologists would like to answer. There is evidence that genes play a role and some people are simply born more optimistic than others. However, there is also evidence that optimism can be learned, which is good news as this means we all can take steps to increase optimism.

Eight steps to increase optimism:

  1. Don’t wait for life to happen. Set a goal and also define subgoals to mark progress toward your ultimate goal. Then make an action plan to implement your goal.
  2. Celebrate milestones, for example when you reach a subgoal.
  3. If there are setbacks, don’t give up immediately on your goal. Focus on  ways to overcome setbacks and remind yourself how far you have come already..
  4. At the end of each day, recall positive events of the day. Find three things that you are grateful for that they happened. This can be mundane things like finding a parking spot quickly.
  5. Surround yourself with positive and optimistic people. Over time you will learn from others to see the glass as half full.
  6. Make sure that you do every day something just for fun. As more positive experiences you have, as more will you enjoy your life.
  7. Exercise regularly. Studies show that physical activity acts like a natural antidepressant.
  8. And last, but not least: Team up with a life coach to have someone who gently pushes you forward toward your goal, keeps you on track, is your cheerleader and sounding board, and helps you to overcome obstacles on your way to success. You will be amazed what a life coach can do for you!

 Written by Christiane Turnheim. Christiane is a professional life and career coach in Massachusetts and teaches psychology at a community college in the Boston area. She is author of the e-workbook “Job Satisfaction – Learn To Love Your Job”  . Email her at c<http://www.privatedaddy.com?q=HTt4awIBcEgFSx1xPBxIcXpZXkM1ODhGdA-3D-3D_19>


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Is Happiness and Success mostly based on Genes?

Written on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 at 3:54 pm by Christiane

The nature or nurture discussion goes on: A new study by researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland involving 800 sets of twins provides evidence that the impact of genes may be stronger than previously thought. Earlier studies had already shown that many personality characteristics are at least partially inborn. According to the new study, genetics however have a significatly stronger impact on traits, such as decision making, self-control, or sociability, than environmental influences. The researchers conclude that “genetically influenced characteristics could well be the key to how successful a person is in life.”

Well, I think even if there is a relatively strong genetic influence on happiness, people still can make a difference in their lives. Let’s take for example self-control as this was a mentioned trait in the research study. Of course, someone born with strong self-control may not be prone to  impulsively say or do something that they will later regret, but this doesn’t mean that someone born with weaker self control can’t learn. For them, self-control just doesn’t come as easy.

Read more about the study at http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/all-news/genes-150512

Written by Christiane Turnheim. Christiane is psychologist and life coach. She is also the author of the job satisfaction e-workbook “Learn to Love your Job”


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Happy employees may be the key to success for organizations

Written on Monday, August 23rd, 2010 at 4:05 pm by Christiane

I recently read an article on ScienceDaily.com about the impact of Employee job satisfaction on the financial performance of a company:

ScienceDaily (2010-08-14) — When a JetBlue flight attendant creatively deplaned earlier this month, many questions arose as to why someone would be willing to give up a steady paycheck during these tough economic times. While this “working man’s hero” will most likely be questioning his motives as he hands over his lawyer’s fees, a new report in Perspectives on Psychological Science, suggests that his action may be a sign of trouble for JetBlue and other large companies. … read full article 


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Fortune Cookie Wisdom

Written on Thursday, September 25th, 2008 at 8:20 pm by Christiane


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The Power of Persistence

Written on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 at 5:15 pm by Christiane

Cancer researcher Judah Folkman has died. Folkman was a visionary who for more than 30 years pursued his idea that cutting off a tumor’s blood supply would stop cancer growth. Today, more than one million of cancer patients are being treated with medication based on his groundbreaking research.I’m writing about Folkman because his life and work demonstrates that success often requires sticking to ideas even in the face of skepticism and criticism. When he first proposed his ideas about cutting off the blood supply his colleagues didn’t take him seriously. Cancer research in the 70s focused on improving chemotherapy drugs. But Folkman didn’t give up on his idea to swim with the mainstream. Instead, he pursued it with great determination even though his own experiments didn’t always deliver the results he had hoped for. It eventually paid off and in 1998 the Ney York Times celebrated him on page one as the man who could cure cancer. Though these hopes were too high, drugs targeting a tumor’s blood supply are today a fixed part of many treatment plans.

Secret of success

In my opinion, Folkman’s story highlights one of the biggest differences between successful people and less successful. It’s often not about skills, talent, knowledge, power or money. The difference is in the degree of determination and persistence. I read in Folkman’s obituary in the Boston Globe that he liked to joke “if your idea succeeds, everybody says you are persistent. If it doesn’t succeed, you’re stubborn”.

The thing is, many people with good ideas give up because they are afraid of being perceived as stubborn.

No such word as ‘failure’

According to the same obituary a friend said about him, that there was no such word as defeat in Folkman’s lexicon. A setback like an experiment with inconclusive results was only a learning point. Relentlessly, Folkman tried again with new experiments to prove that cancer growth can be stopped by cutting off the blood supply.

This is the second secret of success: the ability to view failure only as a temporary setback. On the long run, each failure offers the possibility to learn from it and thus gets you one step closer to your goal.

Experience success through the assistance of a life coach

Not many people have this ability, and exactly here a life coach could help. A life coach provides support, offers feedback, designs with you a plan how to achieve your goal and will help to refocus in times of temporary setbacks.

Most importantly, a life coach will help you to silence your “inner critic”; it’s this voice inside your head which most of us know too well: “You are not good enough; nobody cares; who you think you are?” The road to success is rocky enough without the added burden of the inner critic.


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