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Sunday, November 1, 2009


The following continues the serialization of Chapter 3 on education from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:

Learned Optimism

Martin Seligman, psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, is known to be the father of “positive psychology.” He wrote the book, Learned Optimism, on how optimism enhances the quality of life, and how it can be learned. The debate is on whether the pessimist is better grounded and the optimist deluded. Certainly, there is a link between pessimism and depression. Seligman says that pessimism played a role in the survival of our species, but might now be partially obsolete.

Everyone fails at something. The optimist has a way of bouncing back, while pessimists are defined by their failures. Optimists have less illness and recover more quickly. Read Learned Optimism for details.

For sure, optimists are more successful, as in the insurance industry, where optimists, in his survey, sold 37% more than pessimists. Seligman studied 500 freshman at his university and found that how well they did on his test for optimism were a better predictor of actual grades than their SAT scores or high school grades.

Optimists, it is now reported, live longer and healthier lives. This study by the University of Pittsburgh was comprehensive, but only followed women 50 and over. Yet, the extension can be made to all.

Thus, the bottom line is that optimism is better than pessimism, and that optimism can be learned. But are our schools teaching these attitudes? No. Mystifyingly, there is also no concerted effort regarding how to succeed in life. Next, education with Spencer Kagan and Tony Wagner.


Now Tropical Storm Mirinae rolled over the Philippines, bringing from 3-6 inches of rain and killing at least 20. Tomorrow, landfall on Vietnam.


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