How Beliefs Affect Us
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How Beliefs Affect Us

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Graphic demonstration of Seligman\'s concept of "learned optimism."

Graphic demonstration of Seligman\'s concept of "learned optimism."

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    How Beliefs Affect Us How Beliefs Affect Us Presentation Transcript

    • The slide you just saw is an example of how“what you focus on, is what you see.”
    • Why is that concept important?
    • According to the book Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, mental habitsare the most influential factor in determining a person’s experience of life,including mental health.
    • Have you ever considered that your mental habits can be even moreinfluential on your life than your genetic pre-dispositions or unchangeablepersonality characteristics?
    • The good news is that the optimistic mental habits can be learned.
    • As optimistic mental habits are practiced, they become more habitual overtime and can create: – good mental health; – the tendency toward happiness, understanding and compassion; – better immune function; – overall physical good health; and – longer life.
    • The next slide is an example of how YOU can control your own perception.
    • Take a close look at the picture below. It is not animated. Your eyes aremaking it move. To test this, stare at one spot for a couple seconds andeverything will stop moving. Or look at the black center of each circle and it willstop moving. But move your eyes to the next black center and the previous willmove after you take your eyes away from it.
    • The tables on the following slides are compiled from Seligman’s book as asummary of the “mental habits” employed by optimists and pessimists.
    • In good times, or when something good happens: Optimists believe:Time -This good situation will last forever.Space -This goodness is an example of what happens every where else.Pervasiveness -This goodness is an example of what happens usually and repeatedly, as goodness is the natural state of life.Personal Self- -This good situation is related to my goodness, it isperception happening by design, it is my benefit and I deserve it.
    • In good times, or when something good happens: Pessimists believe:Time -This good situation is short-term.Space -This goodness is not an example of what happens every where else.Pervasiveness -This goodness is not an example of what usually and repeatedly happens, as badness is the natural state of life.Personal Self- -This good situation is a coincidence or fluke, isperception happening accidentally, despite my problems, it has nothing to do with me and I do not deserve it.
    • In bad times, or when something bad happens: Optimists believe:Time -This bad situation is short-term.Space -This badness is not an example of what happens every where else.Pervasiveness -This badness is not an example of what usually and repeatedly happens, as goodness is the natural state of life.Personal Self- -This bad situation is a coincidence or fluke, isperception happening accidentally, it is not my fault, and I do not deserve it.
    • In bad times, or when something bad happens: Pessimists believe:Time -This bad situation will last forever.Space -This badness is an example of what happens every where else.Pervasiveness -This badness is an example of what usually happens and repeatedly, as badness is the natural state of life.Personal Self- -This bad situation is not a coincidence or fluke, isperception happening by design, because of my problems, it is my fault and I deserve it.
    • Similarly, pessimistic mental habits can also be learned.
    • As pessimistic mental habits are reinforced, they become more habitualover time as well and create: – difficulties in mental health; – the tendency to be anxious, angry or depressed; – reduced immune function; – physical illness; and – shorter lifespan.
    • Happily, this theory has been tested on people who commonly exercisepessimistic mental habits. When they learn optimistic ones, their overallhealth improves and they become less susceptible to depression, andillness.
    • Another interesting fact is that, studies published of grade school boys andgirls show that the boys tend to be more habitually optimistic, while the girlstend to be more habitually pessimistic.
    • There seems to be strong correlations between the mental habits of thedominant parent’s mental habits and those learned by the children, as wellas a correlation between mental habits of parents and their same sexchildren.
    • Some studies postulate that these correlations could be related to thegeneral prevalence of male dominance. In this case, perhaps optimisticmental habits common to males are linked to their having control of theirouter environment.
    • The opposite may also be true, where female subjugation is the generalnorm. In that case, perhaps pessimistic mental habits common to femalesare linked to their lacking control over their outer environments.
    • Given the correlations above, it is no surprise that there are also ethnicdifferences noted in societies known for inter-ethnic or other forms ofoppression. In the analysis, the dominant group demonstrates optimisticmental habits, presumably associated with having control of the outerenvironment.
    • Is it surprising that the subjugated group would be more likely todemonstrate pessimistic mental habits, perhaps conversely associated tolacking control over the outer environment?
    • It is likely that in societies where inter-ethnic or other oppression ispervasive for longer periods of time, the tendency for the subjugated groupto experience pessimistic mental habits increases.
    • Further, in post-conflict societies, where oppression led to prolongedhostilities and violence, it is likely that these tendencies toward pessimisticmental habits would be even more pervasive, and perhaps harder toovercome because of the absence of what may perceived to be goodsituations and conditions.
    • The same may be true of populations in countries with a legacy oftotalitarian government, where a small group of elite people dominated theresources and freedom of the larger population for a long period of time.
    • In the next slide, imagine yourself as the dot in the center of the circles…
    • Are you willing to take action to change your own perceptions of the worldaround you?