Glass half-empty or half-full? Does it really matter? As it turns out, it does matter. Those who explain things one way are better salespeople, have less depression and are more motivated than those who see things the opposite way. It’s about a thing called your explanatory style, and Dr Martin Seligman has conducted more than 600 studies that prove that optimistic explanations get you the good stuff, while pessimistic ones will often end exactly how you predict them – badly.
Here are a few things essential to understanding the science around explanatory style:
1. Optimists make more money and are more loyal.
In a study with life insurance agents, Seligman found that the most optimistic salespeople sold 88% more than the most pessimistic ones. Optimism is infectious
2. The optimist with high reality testing is a gold mine.
Optimism is not about fooling yourself and being all rosy. In fact, to be a successful optimist, you must not only have an accurate barometer on reality, but be able to see other options to that reality. If you are an optimist based in realism, you are statistically more likely to make more money.
3. Pessimists are more accurate about reality than optimists.
Optimists think that there are more options open to them when bad things happen. So they try different things in order to get out of a jam. Serious pessimists usually give up once they think the outcome is foretold.
4. There is nothing wrong with being a pessimist.
If your job requires high accuracy, pessimism may actually benefit you. Look out for what I explain in the next bullet before you succumb to pessimism, though.
5. Pessimists are more likely to become depressed than their optimistic counterparts.
If an optimist loses a job, it will take, on average, four to six weeks to get back into the hunt. If a pessimist loses a job, it can take three to six months before emerging to see the light.
6. Optimists keep moving forward because they believe there are options.
Pessimists don’t usually persist in the face of setbacks and can be prone to inertia. When salespeople are rejected again and again, it is the optimist who makes another phone call while the pessimist gives up.
Becoming an optimist rather than a pessimist is simple to understand but can be difficult to execute because you’ve been practicing your explanatory style for at least a few decades now. It’s time to get over that and get more out of life and work. When bad events happen, pessimists tend to explain the calamity as:
- Permanent. Behind on earnings: “We’re never going to hit our numbers.” There is no point in problem-solving at this point, since the worst is expected.
- Pervasive. Mad at your accountant: “Accountants are such losers.” This is the tendency to explain all people or things in a category as bad if only one is bad.
- A little tweak in explanatory style when bad things happen and you become an optimist: temporary. Behind on earnings: “This is a bad quarter, but next quarter we have a few things in the pipeline to make up for it.” The optimist looks for options when things are bad, making the situation a temporary negative. This keeps them and others motivated.
- Specific. Mad at your accountant: “I need to get a new accountant. This one’s not working out.” Optimists are specific about who or what is bad, and then they go find a good one.
In short, you’re more pessimistic if, when something negative happens, you believe that there are no other options (permanence) or that since there is one rotten apple, all of them are rotten (pervasiveness).
It doesn’t take much to see that a pessimist can get depressed in a big hurry with that kind of explanatory style. You can also see how it probably leads to inertia. The opposite explanation style is found in optimists and pessimists when good events happen. Pessimists think that if something good happens, it’s temporary, explaining that the stars aligned perfectly and probably won’t do so again in our lifetime.
On the other hand, optimists are more permanent when explaining good events. They believe that good happens because they have the right ingredients to create that positive event every time. Pessimists are specific about explaining the reason for good events, and when bad things occur, they believe it is pervasive. It is a choice you get to make. If you don’t think you have a choice, you’re exactly right. Enjoy the misery of it all.
4 Ways to Stop Worrying in 2019
If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how.
What if I can’t complete that piece of work in time? What if my home gets burgled while I’m on holiday? We all worry – some people more than others. A few of these worries are genuine concerns, but most are completely out of our control and are most likely never to materialise.
But still, they occupy our minds. And with the digital world now occupying even more of our time, we’ve been given even more material to worry about. Famines in far-away countries, children orphaned by a flood, if we simply turn on our TVs or look to social media, we can become completely overwhelmed by what we see. And it’s making us all desperately unhappy.
So, what do we do? If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how:
Monitor and limit social media
We all know our phones are an addiction. And scrolling through Twitter or Instagram, you can compare your life to everyone else’s and add another huge worry to your ever-growing list: I’m not good enough/my life sucks. Which is why there’s a growing trend among Generation X-ers (and even some Millennials), to quit social media altogether.
“It was like breaking an addiction for the first few days, where I felt I was missing out, but after a few weeks I realised that the world carries on, and I was still in touch with those people I actually wanted to connect with. I felt lighter and happier,” says Caryn White*, a mother-of-two and small business owner. If you can’t quit social media for work reasons, then take it off your phone, and only access it on your desktop at specific times of the day.
We’re not advocating sticking your head in the sand: just limit which channels you absorb news from, and how often you do it. The last thing you need is to open up your phone on waking up and read about the latest catastrophe, which you are powerless to do anything about.
Pick a few trusted news sources and check them at specific times. Avoid the news on the radio in your car; rather listen to fascinating audio books or podcasts that lift your mood instead of making you worry.
Assumption or fact?
This simple concept is incredibly helpful when faced with a worrying situation. Your child has a strange rash, you’ve Googled it and you’re pretty sure it’s chickenpox. Now the whole family is going to get it, you’ll miss work, your boss will be angry, and you may lose your job. Is the fact that your child has chicken pox an assumption or a fact?
Is losing your job a fact or an assumption? They’re both assumptions. So, take your child to the doctor, get a proper diagnosis and then take the next steps from there (a good medical aid can also help ease the stress of the financial cost of doctors’ visits). This approach is a simple way to deal with worries that start to spiral out of control in your mind.
Write them down
Worrying can seem insurmountable if it’s all in your head. Instead, try this strategy from Qualified FAMSA Counsellor Lynette Blomfield:
- Take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, until you calm down.
- Once you’re calm, write down the five most stressful things on your list. It could be increasing expenses, like a huge jump in medical aid costs per month.
- Brainstorm what you could do to change or eliminate the worry/problem (maybe you can move to a medical aid company that charges less each month?). If necessary, ask a good friend or colleague for advice.
- Focus on making progress, not ticking all your worries off and striving for ‘perfection’.
- Stay on course and come back to your list regularly.
Dealing with worrying is about being proactive. You’re the only one that can begin the process of reducing anxiety, so now’s the time to take some steps. If you don’t know how to begin doing this on your own, it may be best to see a qualified counsellor or therapist to get you started.
*name has been changed
These 6 Types of Music Are Known To Dramatically Improve Productivity
Just another example of how much you gain by listening.
Music isn’t just a means of entertaining ourselves: it can also encourage creativity and help us become more productive. Listening to music can also be therapeutic, relieving feelings of stress so you can concentrate better.
Research has found that certain types of music can be beneficial to us while we work. Some types of music seem to help with learning and improve our ability to process information. Other types help block out distracting background noise. Still other types sync with our brain waves to induce “eureka moments.”
So, if you’re struggling with productivity and want to know what you should be listening to, read on. These are the six types of music that will give you a major boost in productivity.
1. Classical Music
Researchers have long claimed that listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently. This theory, which has been dubbed “the Mozart Effect,” suggests that listening to classical composers can enhance brain activity and act as a catalyst for improving health and well-being. Various studies have confirmed that listening to classical music enhances one’s ability to manipulate shapes and solve spatial puzzles.
The absence of words in the music may be one factor, as songs that contain lyrics have been found to be a distraction when you’re trying to focus. And classical music is known for being calming, relaxing and helping reduce stress. This genre of music has been found to help students perform 12 percent better on their exams. Some selections, like Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” seem to help students study longer and retain more information.
Here are other few classical selections you can use to boost productivity while working:
- Bach Classical Study Playlist
- Classical Music for Studying: Mozart, Beethoven, Bach Study Music Playlist for Better Concentration
- 6-Hour Mozart Piano Classical Music Studying Playlist: Great Beautiful Long Pieces
- Vivaldi’s quick-tempo “Four Seasons”
2. Nature Music
Listening to the sounds of nature, like waves crashing or a babbling brook, has been shown to enhance cognitive function and concentration. Nature sounds work best when they’re soothing sounds, such as flowing water or rainfall, while more jarring noises such as bird calls and animal noises can be distracting.
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered that natural sounds boost moods and focus. The study found employees were more productive and had more positive feelings when nature sounds were playing in the background while they worked.
This may be because nature sounds helped mask harsher, more distracting noises, such as people talking or typing. Researchers found that workers not only performed better on tasks, but calming nature sounds also had a restorative effect on cognitive abilities.
Here are some selections to try:
3. Cinematic Music
An intense film score can make you feel like you’re doing something inspiring or important, even if you’re just chipping away at your to-do list. A grandiose, epic soundtrack playing in the background may make even the most mundane tasks feel like you’re changing the world, thus heightening your concentration and productivity.
Cinematic music scores can be empowering, lifting your spirits and brightening your mood. So, if you’re feeling tired and drained, try listening to some epic-style cinematic music to give you that extra boost of motivation.
Some great movie scores to try include:
- “The Social Network”
- “Lawrence of Arabia”
- “Cloud Atlas”
- “The Bourne Identity”
4. Video Game Music
It might seem strange, but listening to music composed for video games can be a great tool to help you focus. Every element of a video game is designed to create an enhanced gaming experience for all your senses, and the music has been composed specifically to help you focus on your task without being distracted by a cacophony of sounds.
This music generally has no lyrics or human voices and is fairly fast-paced to keep you moving forward. Many of these video games involve solving puzzles and dealing with intense situations, so you’re subjecting yourself to simulated stressful challenges. Video games have invested a lot of resources in figuring out the perfect balance to the music they use.
Video game music is composed in a way that keeps you engaged as you evaluate, navigate and often fight your way through these make-believe worlds. These musical compositions may be just the thing to propel you onward and keep you zooming through your tasks and daily to-do list.
Here are some excellent video game music selections to check out:
- Battlefield One
- Final Fantasy 7
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- Assassin’s Creed 2
- The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim
5. Music between 50 and 80 beats per minute
Some research suggests that it’s not the type of music that’s important in helping you stay focused and productive, but the tempo of that music. Studies have found that music with 50 to 80 beats per minute can enhance and stimulate creativity and learning.
Dr. Emma Gray, a cognitive behavioural therapist, worked with Spotify to research the benefits of certain types of music. She found that listening to music set in the 50- to 80-beat range puts the brain into an alpha state.
When we’re awake, we’re typically in a state of mind known as beta, a heightened state of alertness where our brain-wave activity is between 14 and 30 HZ. When our brain slows to between 7 and 14 HZ, we’re in a more relaxed alpha state of mind that allows us to be more receptive and open, and less critical. This state of mind is what scientists associate with activities that involve our imagination, memory and intuition, including our “eureka moments.”
If you have ever listened to music that you’re familiar with, only to find yourself deep in thought and not really hearing the music at all, this is an alpha state induced by music. You’re tuning out while being tuned in.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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