The Secret To Staying Motivated? Optimism, Not Anger
MANY OF US USE ANGER TO FIGHT OUR WAY BACK FROM FAILURE. BUT AS OUR VETERANS HAVE PROVEN, OPTIMISM IS A MORE POWERFUL MOTIVATOR THAN ANGER.
There’s an old idiom, “don’t get mad, get even.” I’ve always loved it, but of course, that just means I’m a hothead. Because if you really break down that idiom’s meaning, it’s not telling you to quell your conniption. It’s telling you to channel that anger to reach new heights.
But as Emily Esfahani Smith points out over at The Atlantic, research has shown that optimism—for however cheesy that term can sound to the bag-punchers in the crowd—is a lot more powerful when your chips are down than making two fists and fighting your way out of a corner.
This is what Dr. Dennis Charney, the dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, found when he examined approximately 750 Vietnam war veterans who were held as prisoners of war for six to eight years. Tortured and kept in solitary confinement, these 750 men were remarkably resilient. Unlike many fellow veterans, they did not develop depression or posttraumatic stress disorder after their release, even though they endured extreme stress. What was their secret? After extensive interviews and tests, Charney found ten characteristics that set them apart. The top one was optimism. The second was altruism. Humor and having a meaning in life—or something to live for—were also important.
Read more here.