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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Emotional Intelligence: Optimism Can Be Learned


Since optimism can be learned, why is pessimism so rampant? Do we have any say in our attitude, or is it simply 'just the way we are'?

"If you think you can do a thing or you think you can't do a thing - you are right." ~Henry Ford
This now aligns in general with recent research in neuroscience. Pessimists are people who tend to see through a lens of pessimism, and optimists have a brain bias toward optimism. Reality is not objective in these types of situations, in particular. Your reality is real - to you. Life contains both, and sometimes we get what we want and sometimes we don't. The question is, what meaning or story line do you assign to the outcomes that you see?

Is it one of what can be learned? What can you change? Do you just let your emotions swing you wildly out of control? Do you focus on what is missing or 'wrong', or do you look for all the other great things in your life to be thankful for that you DO have?
You see, this choice of happiness or stress and overwhelm is within our control to a huge degree. Whether pessimism was learned or genetic, you can change it. We just have not known it is possible, and we are just now learning how to consciously do it with more ease and less effort. I'm glad I had the courage to get a head start on the science... I have so much more emotional self-mastery now. Trusting intuition can be a 

beautiful and powerful thing.
Enhanced self-awareness and more skillful self-management are the foundations of emotional intelligence and are building blocks for optimism and resiliency. They are essential for maintaining motivation and preventing burnout. Research has shown that optimism is associated with enhancing intrinsic motivation and performance. It has a tendency to inspire others instead of discourage them.

Healthy optimism is informed of what is going on in the environment, yet directs attention toward finding solutions instead toward focusing on threats or past disappointment. The way we direct our attention forms our perception of reality. Pessimists see potential negative realities and optimists see potential positive realities.

'Reality is an illusion; albeit a very persistent one'. ~Albert Einstein
It is persistent because we do not understand how to what I call 'optimally operate' our amazing brain in a way that finds new insights and connections. Most people, apparently, have generally trained their brain to fear or expect threats; hence, that is what we tend to find. How can I say 'most people?' One only need look at the sales of anti-depressants and listen to people complaining of stress and overwhelm. It's virtually epidemic. Yes, this is largely a problem of where we are placing our focus of attention.

Your energy flows, where your attention goes.
Be mindful of how you direct your focus of attention. From a wellbeing point of view, optimism provides protection from hopelessness, powerlessness, and depression. These are all things that create stress and weaken our immune system. Wouldn't it be more productive to focus on what you DO want instead of what you DON'T want?

What can you do?
Mindfulness meditation is a mind-muscle tool that allows us to access our highest level of brain evolution capacity for self-awareness. I call this brain level 'Level 3' (neo-cortex/prefrontal cortex). Once we are at that level, we can more readily apply our EQ skills and tools, develop better leadership skills, and connect with others more skillfully. There are a host of other benefits, as well.
Otherwise, you simply stay stuck in the reactive levels of your brain. Fear can easily hijack you when you are in the lower levels of your mind's evolution.

Mindfulness allows us to take back the steering wheel of our mind. This is the way to tap into new possibilities beyond old patterns... our imagination and creative ideas.
It is the foundation for changing our perception of feelings and enhancing our emotional intelligence more effectively. So think of mindfulness meditation as a tool for mind muscle that leads to a stronger mind... so that our brain is not hijacked so easily.

Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle - with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.

For more information and to contact her regarding dynamic, inspirational keynotes, trainings in collaborative leadership and team building, entrepreneurship and coaching programs, visit her website at
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1 comment:

  1. This is a great and different look on how we perceive our realities. Self-awareness is very important to becoming a better person. I love all the different quotes that you have woven into this post.

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