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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.

你认为自己是什么样的人,那你就是什么样的人

如果你改变想法——从悲观变为乐观——你就可以改变自己的生活

卡勒普·撒弗兰

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。”

“你的能力固然重要,”匹兹堡的卡内基——梅隆大学的心理学家迈克

尔·F·沙伊尔说,“但你成功的信念影响到你是否真能成功。”在某种程度上,这是由于乐观者和悲观者以截然不同的方式对待同样的挑战和失望。

以你的工作为例。宾夕法尼亚大学的心理学家马丁·E·P·塞利格曼与同事彼得·舒尔曼在一项重要研究中对大都市人寿保险公司的推销员进行了广泛调查。他们发现。在工龄较长的推销员中,积极思考者比消极思考者要多推销37%的保险额。在新雇佣的推销员中,乐观主义者则多销了20%。

公司受到了触动,便雇佣了100名虽未通过标准化企业测试但在态度乐观一项得分很高的人。这些本来可能根本不会被雇佣的人售出的保险额高出推销员的平均额10%。

他们是如何做的呢?据塞利格曼说,乐观主义者成功的秘诀就在于他的“解释方式”。出了问题之后,悲观主义者倾向于自责。他说:“我不善于做这种事,我总是失败。”乐观主义者则寻找漏洞,他责怪天气、抱怨电话线路、或者甚至怪罪别人。他认为,是那个客户当时情绪不好。当一切顺利时,乐观主义者居功自傲而悲观主义者只把成功视为侥幸。

克雷格·安德森让一组学生给陌生人打电话,请他们为红十字会献血。当他们的第一、二个电话未能得到对方同意时,悲观者说:“我干不了这事。”乐观主义者则对自己说:“我需要试试另一种方法。”

无论是消极还是积极,都是一种本身会成为事实的预言。安德森说:“如果人们感到没有希望,他们就不会费事去获得成功所需的技能。”

据安德森看来,有无控制感是成功的试金石。乐观者能够掌握自己的命运。如果事情不顺利,他立刻作出反应,寻找解决办法,制定新的行动计划,并且主动寻求指点。悲观者则感到自己只能由命运摆布,行动拖拉。既然认为毫无办法,他便不去寻求指点。

乐观主义者也许认为自己比事实能够证明的要强——有时正是这一点使他们充满生机。匹兹堡肿瘤研究所的桑德拉·利维博士对患晚期乳腺癌的妇女进行了研究。对那些通常持乐观态度的妇女来说,两次发病间隔的时间较长,而这是生存下去的最好预兆。在一次对早期乳腺癌妇女的小规模试验性研究中,利维博士发现这一疾病在病人身上复发更早。

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。

他大嚼不利于健康的垃圾食品,逃避体育锻炼,不听医生的劝告,还总是要再贪一杯。

在多数人身上,乐观主义和悲观主义兼而有之,但总是更倾向于其中之一。塞利格曼说,这是一种所谓早在“母亲膝下”就开始形成的思维模式,来自千万次警告或鼓励,积极的或消极的话语。过多的“不许”及危险警告会使一个孩子感到无能、恐惧,以及悲观。

随着年龄的增长,儿童能体会到许多小小的成就感,如学会系鞋带等。家长可以促使这类成功转变为控制感,从而培养出乐观主义。

悲观是一种很难克服的习惯,但并非不能克服。在一系列具有重大突破的研究中,伊利诺伊大学的卡罗尔·德韦克博士对小学低年级儿童做了一些工作。她帮助那些出错的学生改变对失败原因的解释——从“我准是很笨”变成“我学习还不够努力”——因此他们的学习成绩也提高了。

匹兹堡的利维博士想知道把病人变成乐观主义者是否会延长他们的生命。在一次试验性研究中,两组结肠癌病人受到同样方式的治疗,但其中一些人还得到了鼓励乐观态度的心理帮助。试验结果表明这一作法有一定的效果。现在已在计划实施一项重大研究,以确定这一心理变化是否会改变病情的发展。

因此,如果你是个悲观主义者,你完全有理由乐观起来。你能改变自己。以下就是范德比尔特大学的心理学家史蒂夫·霍朗指出的方法:

一、当坏事发生时,仔细留意自己的想法,把你最初的想法原原本本地记下来,一字不改。

二、然后,来做一个试验。做一件同任何消极反应相反的事。比如说,你工作中出了问题。你是这么想的吗:我讨厌我的工作,可我再也不会找到比这更好的工作了?这时你应该采取行动,就像完全不是这么回事一样:向外发寄个人简历、去参加面试、看看有没有培训项目并寻找工作门路。

三、继续关注事情的发展。你最初的想法是对还是错?霍朗说:“如果你的想法使你裹足不前,那就改变这些想法。这是一种试错法,不能确保成功,但应给你自己一个机会。”

积极的思维导致积极的行动以及积极的反应。如证据所表明的,你对世界抱有什么样的希望,你就很可能得到什么样的结果。

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