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发布时间:2014-02-09 13:55:32  

You Are What You Think

And if you change your mind --- from pessimism to optimism --- you can change your life

Claipe Safran

Do you see the glass as half-full rather than half empty? Do you keep your eye upon the doughnut, not upon the hole? Suddenly these clichés are scientific questions, as researchers scrutinize the power of positive thinking.

A fast-growing body of research-104 studies so far, involving some 15000 people --- is proving that optimism can help you to be happier, healthier and more successful. Pessimism leads, by contrast, to hopelessness, sickness and failure, and is linked to depression, loneliness and painful shyness. “If we could teach people to think more positively,” says psychologist Craig A. Anderson of Rice University in Houston, “it would be like inoculating then against these mental ills.”

“Your abilities count,” explains psychologist Michael F. Scheier of

Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, “but the belief that you can succeed affects whether or not you will.” In part, that’s because optimists and pessimists deal with the same challenges and disappointments in very different ways.

Take, for example, your job. In a major study, psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania and colleague Peter Schulman surveyed sales representatives at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. They found that the positive-thinkers among longtime representatives sold

37-percent more insurance than did the negative-thinkers. Of newly hired representatives, optimists sold 20-percent more.

Impressed, the company hired 100 people who had failed the standard

industry test but had scored high on optimism. These people, who might never have been hired, sold 10-percent more insurance than did the average representative.

How did they do it? The secret to an optimist’s success, according to Seligman, is in his “explanatory style”. When things go wrong the pessimist tends to

blame himself. “I’m no good at this,” he says, “I always fail.” The optimist looks for loopholes. He blames the weather, the phone connection, even the other person. That customer was in a bad mood, he thinks. When things go right, the optimist takes credit while the pessimist sees success as a fluke.

Craig Anderson had a group of students phone strangers and ask them to donate blood to the Red Cross. When they failed on the first call or two, pessimists said, “I can’t do this.” Optimists told themselves, “I need to try a different approach.”

Negative or positive, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. “If people feel hopeless,” says Anderson, “they don’t bother to acquire the skills they need to succeed.”

A sense of control, according to Anderson, is the litmus test for success. The optimist feels in control of his own life. If things are going badly, he acts quickly, looking for solutions, forming a new plan of action, and reaching out for advice. The pessimist feels like fate’s playing and moves slowly. He doesn’t seek advice, since he assumes nothing can be done.

Optimists may think they are better than the facts would justify --- and

sometimes that’s what keeps them alive. Dr. Sandra Levy of the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute studied women with advanced breast cancer. For the women who were generally optimistic, there was a longer disease-free interval, the best predictor of survival. In a pilot study of women in the early stages of breast cancer, Dr. Levy found the disease recurred sooner among the pessimists.

Optimism won’t cure the incurable, but it may prevent illness. In a long-term study, researchers examined the health histories of a group of Harvard

graduates, all of whom were in the top half of their class and in fine physical condition. Yet some were positive thinkers, and some negative. Twenty years later, there were more middle-age diseases-hypertension, diabetes, heart ailments-among the pessimists than the optimists.

Many studies suggest that the pessimist’s feeling of helplessness undermines the body’s natural defenses, the immune system. Dr. Christopher Peterson of the University of Michigan has found that the pessimist doesn’t take good care of himself. Feeling passive and unable to dodge life’s blows, he expects ill health and other misfortunes, no matter what he does. He munches on junk food, avoids exercise, ignores the doctor, has another drink.

Most people are a mix of optimism and pessimism, but are inclined in one

direction or the other. It is a pattern of thinking learned “at your mother’s knee”, says Seligman. It grows out of thousands of cautions or encouragements, negative statements or positive ones. Too many “don’ts” and warnings of danger can make a child feel incompetent, fearful-and pessimistic.

As they grow, children experience small triumphs, such as learning to tie

shoelaces. Parents can help turn these successes into a sense of control, that breeds optimism.

Pessimism is a hard habit to break --- but it can be done. In a series of landmark studies, Dr. Carol Dweck of the University of Illinois has been

working with children in the early grades of school. As she helps floundering students to change the explanations for their failures --- from “I must be dumb” to “I didn’t study hard enough” --- their academic performance improves.

Pittsburgh’s Dr. Levy wondered if turning patients into optimists would

lengthen their lives. In a pilot study, two groups of colon-cancer patients were given the same medical treatment, but some were also given psychological

help to determine whether this psychological change can alter the course of the disease.

So, if you’re a pessimist, there’s reason for optimism. You can change. Here’s how, says Steve Hollon, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University:

1. Pay careful attention to your thoughts when bad things happen, Write down the first thing that comes to mind, unedited and uncensored.

2. Now try an experiment. Do something that’s contrary to any negative reactions. Let’s say something has gone wrong at work. Do you think, I hate my job, but I could never get a better one? Act as if that weren’t so. Send out resumes. Go to interviews. Look into training and check job leads.

3. Keep track of what happens. Were your first thoughts right or wrong? “If your thoughts are holding you back, change them,” says Hollon. “It’s trial and error, no guarantees, but give yourself a chance.”

Positive thinking leads to positive action, and reaction. What you expect from the world, the evidence suggests, is what you’re likely to get.




你看酒杯是半满而不是半空吗?你的眼睛是关注于炸面圈而不是那个洞吗?当研究者们仔细观察积极思维的力量时,这些陈词滥调突然间都成了科学问题。 迅速增多的大量研究工作——迄今已有104个研究项目,涉及大约15000人——证明乐观的态度可以使你更快乐、更健康、更成功。与此相反,悲观则导致无望、疾病以及失败,它与沮丧、孤独、令人苦恼的腼腆密切相关。位于休斯敦莱斯大学的心理学家克雷格·A·安德森说:“如果我们能够教会人们更积极地思考,那就如同为他们注射了预防这些心理疾病的疫苗。”










乐观态度不会使不治之症痊愈,却有可能预防疾病。在一项长期研究中,研究人员跟踪观察了一组哈佛大学毕业生的健康史。所有这些人都是班上的好学生,并且健康状况良好。他们之中有的是积极思考者,有的是消极思考者。20年后,悲观者中患有中年常见病——高血压、糖尿病、心脏病——的人数要比乐观者多。 许多研究表明,悲观者的无助感会损害人体的自然防御体系,即免疫系统。密执安大学的克里斯托弗·彼德森博士发现悲观主义者不能很好地照顾自己。他消极被动,不会避开生活中的打击,无论做什么都会担心身体不好或其他灾难降临。











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