Feb 142010

Source: “Pursuing Human Strengths” Martin Bolt, Chapter 8

Optimism and Psychological Well-being

Optimism is associated with a positive mood, a higher morale, and psychological health. Optimism helps us to resist distress from a wide range of sources.

Optimism and Physical Well-being

Optimistic people feel better, are healthier, and live longer. They have stronger immune systems recover faster from trauma.

Realistic Optimism

Realistic optimism avoids wishful thinking while maintaining a positive future outlook. Unrealistic optimism underestimates risks and may discourage appropriate preventive actions such as using contraceptives or quitting smoking.

Explanatory Styles and Coping Strategies

Optimists tend to explain problems in terms that are temporary, specific, and external, leading to initiatives to resolve the problem. Pessimists tend to explain problems in terms that are stable, global, and internal, creating a feeling of helplessness.

Charles Holahan and Rudolph Moos identified three coping strategies: active-cognitive strategies affect thoughts, active-behavioral strategies modify situations, and avoidance strategies inhibit awareness.

Psychology of Hope

We are intrinsically goal directed and readily imagine possibilities. Hope reflects both willpower and perceived ability (waypower).


Strategies for goal setting include clearly establishing desired outcomes in all major areas of life. Bowls should be periodically reviewed, added, and deleted as necessary. Goals should be visualized as vividly in concretely as possible. Goal should be prioritized, with important ones receiving the most attention.

Learning optimism

Reflecting on previous successes reaffirms our potential for future success. We must understand adversity, and create beliefs that have real consequences.

Communal hope

Hope and happiness usually exist within the context of a community. Social support networks increased hope in all manner of situations. Individualism can be damaging to hope. Hopeful goals are best when they seek to serve and benefit others.