By Dr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD –
We have officially entered summer and it is generating quite a buzz both near and far. News Meteorologists are reporting record breaking temperatures felt in New York City, but here in Northern California, at least from where I sit, in San Francisco, it remains a consistent daily display of morning fog followed by mild temperatures. One morning this week for example, there was so much fog bellowing about it was creating a misty shower as if it were raining. The pavement was wet and visibility was limited.
In New York City and elsewhere it is an entirely different scenario. There, temperatures have soared to well over 90 degrees.
As in life, anytime there are extremes to compare, we pause and examine which of the two we would prefer as if one were better than the other.
What typically occurs next, individuals began to complain if they become uncomfortable with their current predicament if it is not to their liking. They are likely to take a quick study of the situation and attempt to access the situation as either agreeable of disagreeable. We commonly refer to this as perspective. How one then responds to their observations is based on what? Is it based on one’s individual Worldview? Personality style? Established lifestyle preferences?
When I began to hear of our recent temperature extremes in North America, there quickly came reports of the weather’s impact. A report of an adult male angry the community Ice Cream Truck ran out of “Good Humor Bars.” Was there not a nearby store as an alternative to quench his thirst?
I bet he wished he were in milder temperatures, or in San Francisco so he could enjoy Fisherman’s Wharf Pier 36 Dreyer’s Waffle Cone Shop. As you walk nearby the aroma of freshly made waffle cones with slow-churned ice cream catches attention regardless of temperature every time.
Then, there was the outrage expressed from individuals angry stating global warming is the culprit to our current horrid state of erratic weather.
In general, a positive outlook and being optimistic breeds not only contentment, but fosters a proactive attitude, even in the face of a “horrid“ situation. When individuals are optimistic they are more likely to seek solutions to the problems they face. This is in stark contradiction to one who will complain about the problems they face, continue to look only for negativity, or for what else “is not working.”
Think about it. How likely is a person to use problem solving skills if they are only hyper-focused on the negative. To effectively problem solve requires a rational mind and this is difficult to achieve when angry. This is common sense. It is a known fact experiencing feelings of anger interferes with the brains ability to fully engage one’s frontal lobes responsible for executive functioning and manipulating several incoming variables at once.
Optimistic individuals are more likely to ask ……”How can I….?” type of questions. Or, pose questions like……”What would need to happen now to resolve this situation?”
This is important because our overall outlook, especially when matters do not go well, influences our intimate and interpersonal relationships. It could made the difference between having a great day, a intolerable day, or a day spent with loved ones with an enormous amount of conflict and complaints.
Can individuals learn to become optimistic? Sure. Feeling a sense of Self-Mastery contributes. In the book “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life,” Dr. Martin Seligman, PhD., Psychologist, contends anyone can learn optimism and practice it. It involves changing ones defeatist mind set. The benefits are numerous he states impacting quality of life. More importantly, improving one‘s interior dialogue into one more positive.
Finally, it helps to keep situations in perspective then react accordingly. Remember we can always give ourselves permission to be more proactive in problem solving. And, sure I guess being appreciative of one’s current situation helps keep matters in perspective so we do not overreact disproportionate to the situation at hand.
Until Next time: à Donf