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The Optimistic Skill-Set

The glass is always half-full. You know the type, the eternally optimistic who do seem to somehow catch more of the breaks, appear happier than the rest and seem to be living life to the fullest. Are they optimistic because of all the ‘positive’ things that have happened to them, or is their optimism the source for the good life ?

A University of Kentucky psychology professor explores the optimistic mind-set and provides practical advice on how everyone can engage in the same habits and skills used by optimists. Along the way, she challenges everyone else to learn from them.

The professor, Suzanne Segerstrom has a new way of looking at the glass half empty or half full question. “If you want my opinion, it probably just needs to be washed,” she said.

In her new book, “Breaking Murphy’s Law” Segerstrom explores how optimists get what they want from life and how pessimists can too. In the book, Segerstrom sheds light on the practical habits and skills optimists use to get what they want from life. “Dispositional optimists are people who naturally believe that more good things will happen to them than bad,” she said. “Because success seems like a sure bet, they don’t hesitate to spend time and energy chasing their dreams.”

In “Breaking Murphy’s Law,” Segerstrom shows pessimists how to join the “positive feedback loop.” “The more success you achieve through optimistic action, the more likely you are to believe and behave optimistically in the future,” she said.

Segerstrom lays out examples, guidelines and practical tips to undo optimism-suppressing thoughts, break free from the inertia of self-doubt, pay attention to unexpected positives, plan well and work hard, resist the temptation to give up, and celebrate small achievements. The benefits might not be immediately obvious, but Segerstrom tells skeptics to stick with the program until they see results. “Exercising personal strengths, making progress toward goals, and tasting success are immensely pleasurable,” she said.

Still, there are a few risks.

“Optimism is powerful stuff,” Segerstrom said. “Despite your best efforts, you might develop a cheery attitude that friends and co-workers will find terribly annoying.”

Segerstrom has conducted extensive research into psychological influences on the immune system, and on the relationship between optimism and well-being. She is also the winner of the Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, awarded in recognition of her work on optimism.

Source: University of Kentucky

The Optimistic Skill-Set

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). The Optimistic Skill-Set. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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