Reviving Your Inner Optimist

CrabapplesYesterday morning my husband and I were discussing optimism versus pessimism.  A Vietnam vet with PTSD, my husband tends toward the latter world view, while I’m the proverbial Pollyanna– a trait for which I’ve been ridiculed for most of my life.  The good news about being a Pollyanna, though, is that your life (should you be someone who enjoys life) can be longer, happier, and more productive.  Not a bad deal, is it?!!

I mentioned in my last post that we’d be discussing various physical conditions and their causes and cures.  Depression, it turns out, is one of the major causes of dis-ease.  Not only does chronic depression affect the afflicted individual– it hamstrings his friends and family members as well.  This particular condition is called “compassion fatigue”– or in the words of Anne-Marie Botek, author of a book and website on the topic, “caregiver burnout.”  But there is hope– a bright light at the end of that gloomy tunnel.  Here is an article by Anne-Marie Botek, with links to additional tips.  Although her focus is on elder care, the excellent advice she offers can be helpful to anyone who lives with and loves a depressed person.

3 Ways to Bring Out Your Inner Optimist!

By Anne-Marie Botek,

Optimism; a word associated with sunny smiles and a Pollyanna-ish outlook on life.

But, what does it really mean to be optimistic? And—more important to the stressed-out caregiver—how can you be optimistic in the face of seemingly endless negativity?

Being optimistic does not mean that you have to constantly walk around with a smile plastered onto your face, burying your true feelings and pretending to be happy.

Rick Hanson, Ph. D., caregiver, and author of “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neurosciences of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom,” says that being optimistic means that you see the world accurately, taking in both the good and the bad. And yes, you can train yourself to be more optimistic.

Pessimism, on the other hand, is an unhealthy obsession with the negative, which can snowball until a person feels completely helpless and totally trapped.

Hanson says that it’s unfortunately pretty easy to fall prey to pessimism because the human brain has a built-in survival mechanism—called the negativity bias—that makes us instinctively focus on the bad or threatening aspects of our environment while ignoring the good.

Caregivers can become so overwhelmed by the bad that it can be nearly impossible to see the good. Hanson offers three simple tips for caregivers who want to teach themselves to become more optimistic:

Think, Do, Be Positive!
How to Stop Being So Hard On Yourself
11 Ways to Stop Depression

3 Ways to Bring Out Your Inner Optimist originally appeared on

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