While Our Future Self Wants To Be Trim And Fit, Our Present Self Wants A Doughnut.

Thrive in Five: Optimism

4 MinutesIn Thrive in Five

I’m still an optimist by nature. Losing the man I loved since we were 12 years old, when he was just 40, hasn’t changed my overall instinct that things will likely turn out ok (see this month’s video for possible explanations). But I would be lying if I didn’t say that becoming a widow hadn’t tempered my optimism a little. For example, as much as I hope my other Blue team will win the FA Cup this weekend, recent form would suggest that only an out and out optimist would think this a probable result….
This month’s Thrive in Five focuses on optimism and realism, with ideas on how to walk between them.

Are we born optimistic or realistic? In this 17 minute TED talk, neuroscientist Tali Sharot makes the case for the former, and humourously and engagingly highlights the dangers as well as the benefits of our brain’s wiring. We are predisposed to underestimate the time likely to be taken, the cost, and our own abilities to persuade, far too often; how do we manage our own and our team’s natural optimism? Watch this for ideas.

A 30 second read on resilience.

Replace your optimistic “to do” lists with a realistic “got done” list. Write down a list of the tasks you complete as you go through your day, including meetings and calls with the outcomes achieved. Like keeping a food diary, we might not want to do it for fear of the results. This though is a bulletproof way to get a realistic take on our time management illusions.

Brene Brown has spent the last twenty years researching courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy and her forthcoming book is specifically focused on these issues in the workplace. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram where her bold visual statements are both comforting (“this is typical and normal, even if no-one is admitting it”) and inspiring.

Two this month. The first, “The Other Side of Sadness” by George Bonanno is an incredibly inspiring book about just how resilient we are in the face of crisis and catastrophe. He calls into question, through a decent evidence and research base, the change curve that can be so easily used by change professionals like myself. The second, “Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness” by Melissa Dahl makes a good case for positive psychology in the sense of building on reality, not blind optimism or denial of how things really are.
I hope this has been useful and interesting and I always welcome feedback or thoughts. Hope the weekend is all you want it to be.
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