Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Learn to Be Optimistic, Learn to Succeed. (an audio podcast)

Focus:  “One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think…. On a mechanical level, cognitive therapy works because it changes explanatory style from pessimistic to optimistic, and the change is permanent. It gives you a set of cognitive skills for talking to yourself when you fail.” – Martin Seligman in Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind & Your Life.

(Use the control bar below to download or play the podcast. Or scroll down and simply read the rest of the transcript. Enjoy!)


Transcript of this audio was originally published on February 24, 2009 [some links referred to below may no longer be valid]

Martin Seligman, former APA president and one of the founders of the research-based Science of Happiness tells us that individuals and teams can learn to be optimistic (and ultimately achieve greater success) by adopting an optimistic explanatory style. In his book Seligman provides examples from sports and business in which teams that have developed optimistic explanatory styles have shown a greater ability to "bounce back" from defeat and return to their winning ways more quickly than their pessimistic competitors. This is great news! But how, exactly, can you change (or control) your explanatory style? Well for starters, you need to understand its key dimensions and how these influence your self talk.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Accept What Is (an audio podcast)


Focus:  This audio podcast includes inspirational quotations, war stories, examples, a little philosophy and some practical challenges to help individuals and teams discover the power of accepting the reality of a difficult situation in order to handle it effectively. Only when you accept it, see it clearly without denial and hand-wringing, can you take appropriate action to remedy it.

(Use the control bar below to download or play the podcast. Or scroll down and simply read the transcript. Enjoy!)

Transcript of this audio originally published on April 19, 2009 [some links referred to below may no longer be valid]:

Imagine this situation: You are in your beautiful, newly remodeled kitchen wiping the counters clean after dinner.  Out in the hallway you hear your big labrador retriever galloping toward you. In a flash, he bounds across the tile to the table, plunks his meaty front paws up on a chair and begins sniffing the dinner plates for leftovers. Stopping your clean-up chores, you whirl to see what he's getting into and bam!... his big nose knocks over a nearly full glass of dark, purple grape juice left untouched by one of the kids. The tough plastic tumbler bounces all over the place, spritzing the walls with purple droplets, while a big puddle of juice begins expanding across the tile. It's flowing straight toward your new beige living room carpet.  Do you:

  • A. Deny that this is actually happening, telling yourself that you are a good, hard-working person who doesn't deserve this kind of misery?
  • B.  Find your spouse and begin an angst-filled review of your family's history of owning this dog, bemoaning the fact that while the dog is lovable, he has always caused too many minor disasters?
  • C.  Sit down with your wife and kids and imagine a future that has in it no potentially staining leftovers and no dog anywhere near the kitchen?
  • D.  Run across the room, placing yourself and your counter-cleaning sponge squarely between the expanding puddle of purple and the new carpet, thus preventing the major stain?

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Practice Mindfulness (an audio podcast)

Focus:  This audio podcast includes inspirational quotations, war stories, examples, a little philosophy and some practical challenges to help individuals and teams expand upon their inherent power of mindfulness — the practice of bringing your full awareness into the present moment.

(Use the control bar below to download or play the podcast. Or scroll down and simply read the transcript. Enjoy!)

Transcript of this audio originally published on April 26, 2009 [some links referred to below may no longer be valid]:

Acknowledgement:  The main inspiration for this post comes from various interviews and articles featuring Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Kabat-Zinn started his career as a scientist at MIT and it is with this scientific perspective (along with his clinical research to support many of his positions) that he shares his thoughts on the power of mindfulness. He teaches mindfulness meditation as a technique to help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness. You can check out the links below for more about Jon and his work.]

In this post I hope to convince you of the power of mindfulness -- the practice of bringing your full awareness into the present moment. This is very different from that "kinda sorta" awareness that you have while you are attending a meeting, firing off a text message, and eating lunch all at the same time. And it is different from the awareness you experience within a conversation while you are trying to stifle clever or fearful or angry or resentful thoughts that are clamoring for your attention. And it is different from the awareness you experience when sitting alone at your desk, working to solve a problem while thoughts of past difficulties and future fears challenge your concentration. Instead, it is a cleaner, simpler kind of awareness. It is simply being fully present, with all your attention. It is, in the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, "paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, without judgment." This is mindfulness.