Positive Psychology, Optimism and Success

This week in Sue Shellenbarger had an interesting column in the Wall Street Journal called “Thinking Happy Thoughts at Work.”  The column focused on the application of recent research in positive psychology in the workplace. Put simply, positive psychology emphasizes building resiliency and positive attitudes instead of solving emotional problems. 

This is an approach whose time may have come.  The latest Conference Board survey shows that 45% of US workers are satisfied with their jobs, down from 52% in 2005 and 61% in 1987.  In my coaching practice, I’m finding that many people are unhappy with their jobs, while at the same time, they are afraid of losing them. 

To my way of thinking, a lot of this angst is the result of a lack of confidence.  Self confidence is one of the four keys to personal and professional success that I describe in my Common Sense Success System.  I discuss it in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success, Star Power, I want YOU…To Succeed, Your Success GPS and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success. 

Here are some of my best tips for building your self confidence…

First, become an optimist. Learn from, and then forget yesterday’s mistakes.  Focus on tomorrow’s achievements.  Optimists believe that today will be better than yesterday and that tomorrow will be better than today.  Optimism is powerful.  That’s why I love The Optimist Creed.

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself:

  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  • To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

If you want a copy of The Optimist Creed that you can frame and hang in your office go to https://budbilanich.com/optimist.

Second, face your fears and take action.  Action cures fear.  Procrastination and inaction compound it.  I find that procrastination is the manifestation of fear.  When you find yourself procrastinating ask yourself what scares you about the situation.  Once you identify admit and embrace your fear, you’ll be able to do something that will help you move past it.

And you’ll find that failure is rarely fatal.  Do something, anything that will move you closer to achieving your goals.  Thomas Edison always said that he knew thousands of ways of how not to make a light bulb – meaning he failed a lot in his efforts to create a light powered by electricity.  He persisted and went on to found General Electric. 

Third, surround yourself with positive people.  Build a network of supportive friends.  Jettison the negative people in your life.  Hang around with positive people; people who are upbeat about life and where they are going.  Optimistic, positive people are contagious.  Their enthusiasm will infect you and get you moving in the right direction.  On the other hand, negative and cynical people are also contagious.  They will infect you too – but with a malaise that can kill your confidence.

Fourth, find a mentor.  A strong mentor will help build your confidence and guide you along the way.  Mentors are positive people by definition – because they are willing to share their knowledge and experience to help others grow and succeed.  No one can go it completely alone.  That’s why you need to find a mentor and learn everything you can from him or her.

Finally, become a mentor.  It’s never too early to begin helping others.  You have learned things that can greatly benefit others.  Be willing to share what you’ve learned to help others from having to learn it the hard way – through personal experience.  And, you never learn something as well as when you teach it.  By helping others, you’ll be helping yourself learn and grow.

Back to the WSJ article.  Ms. Shellenbarger ends by quoting Marshall Goldsmith, one of the most well known and respected executive coaches around.  He advises us to “find a positive spirit toward what you are doing now, that starts from within.”  To me this is just common sense.   You can build a positive spirit by becoming more self confident.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are self confident.  Self confident people are optimists.  They face their fears and act.  They surround themselves with positive people.  They find mentors to help them learn and grow.  They mentor others.  If you begin incorporating these five things into your life, you’ll become more self confident, you will be happier in you work and your life and you’ll be on your way to creating the successful life and career you want and deserve.

That’s my take on positive psychology and self confidence.  What’s yours?  Please take a minute and leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. I like your advice to “Learn from, and then forget yesterday’s mistakes.” Not easy to do, but a powerful habit if you can master it.

  2. You’re right — learning from mistakes and then forgetting them is not easy — but it is important.
    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Psychology is one of the most interesting branches of science because there are so many unknowns.-‘`

  4. Positive psychology offers a new “face” to psychology. It investigates things like what makes us happy, fulfilled, and secure. In a recent research findings, people who give gratitude experience higher levels of well being (e.g. less stress, less anxiety, etc.)

  5. Great job with this content! I think you are a very insightful person with a great talent for writing quality material. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the kind words.

  7. Great job on this article. I haven’t read anything this thought-provoking in a long, long time. I agree with much of what you have stated. This is well laid out and written in my opinion.

  8. Thanks for your kind words Cristopher.
    What was thought provoking about this post for you?

  9. Hi to all, it’s genuinely a nice for me to pay a quick visit this web page, it consists of useful Information.

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