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You CAN Thrive Despite the Odds

You CAN Thrive Despite the Odds

Although I am a New England native, I now live and practice positive psychology in Asheville, North Carolina. I was fascinated, therefore, when two stories on NPR’s All Things Considered this evening were about individuals living in towns not far from Asheville.

Each of the stories is inspiring and a great testimony to the power of optimism.

The first story was about Lenoir, North Carolina. For years Lenoir’s industry was manufacturing bedroom furniture. In the last several years, the majority of this furniture business has moved to China. This left thousands of people unemployed. Bill Curtis was one of these individuals who lost his job. In the story on NPR, Mr. Curtis mentioned the psychological impact that losing a job had on him. First, he reported, he felt guilty as though he had done something wrong. Then he felt betrayed. But Mr. Curtis did not give up and slump into depression. Instead, he decided to press on and optimistically he enrolled in Caldwell Community College to train in the IT program. Much to his good fortune, after heavy-duty negotiations, Google moved into Lenoir. Mr. Curtis now has an opportunity to apply the skills that he by going back to college. (Tune in tomorrow to NPR’s follow-up to see if Mr. Curtis got a job at Google).

Another story on NPR’s All Things Considered featured Anne Osmer. Ms. Osmer recently flew a plane, solo. This is not that extraordinary. In 1908 Madame Therese Peltier was the first woman to fly solo in an airplane. Ms. Osmer story is inspiring because she is 83 years old and took her first flying lesson three years ago. Ms. Osmer was quoted as saying, “I hope I will inspire somebody who always kept saying, ‘Oh, I always wanted to, but I’m too old.’ No, you’re not. No, you’re not. Go for it.” Ms. Osmer reportedly did not even have a desire to learn to fly until she was 80-years-old. She didn’t allow her fears or others’ doubts keep her from optimistically pursuing her dream.

Often what holds us back is our own mind and limitations that we put on ourselves. Individuals like Mr. Curtis and Ms. Osmer bear testimony to the power of being optimistic despite the odds.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
Phone Coaching and Psychotherapy for Business Success and Personal Thriving

In my private practice counseling clients in Asheville, NC, daily, my clients are coming in and telling me about how difficult things are these days. This is a time of economic hardship for many. Many people are worried about their jobs or desperate because they don’t know how they are going to put food on the table for their family.

Flowers3It is so easy to look at the situations in our lives and feel, “This is the way things are and therefore they are going to continue to be this way for a long time. . .” When this thought goes through your head it is easy to feel that the “bad stuff” in your life, whether that be poor health, the economy, being unemployed, etc.” is out of your control. This can easily lead to a feeling of helplessness.

Control is such an interesting concept. The truth is that there are many things that we are unable to control. We can’t control the weather, what our boss or friend thinks of us, we can’t control the traffic on the road. What we can control is our attitude toward what does happen to us and our expectation we have toward future events in our lives.

Our expectation that we have of future events in our lives is like a story that we tell ourselves that is optimistic or pessimistic. So what story are you telling yourself? Are you telling yourself, “Things are really bad in my life and there is no sign of them getting better anytime soon.”? Or, are you telling yourself, “I am going through a really rough time right now. I don’t like it, but I am going to be okay. I anticipate that things are going to turn around for me soon. I am going to start appreciating what is working in my life and I am going to look for evidence of my life improving!”? Your attitude makes a huge difference. The field of Positive Psychology has conducted research on the benefit of having a positive attitude and of having optimism and hope. Dr. Hilary Tindle, in her research found that optimism is related to increases in health and longevity. Optimism has also been linked to less depression in caregivers.  So think about the story you are telling yourself. Is it optimistic?
Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.
Positive Psychology in Asheville, NC
Phone Coaching for Personal Growth and Relationship Success

positive psychology asheville, NCOne of approaches I use most prominently with the clients in my Asheville counseling practice is Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology is an emerging focus in the field of psychology.  The focus of Positive Psychology is on researching and then implementing findings on what supports individuals, communities and countries to thrive.

I was very fortunate to attend the first World Congress on Positive Psychology in Philadelphia, June 18th through the 21st. The energy of being in a conference with over 15,000 positive individuals all focused on learning about positive psychology and the latest developments in researching well-being was electrifying.

One of the most well-researched Positive Psychology interventions to reduce depressive symptoms and to increase well-being is the 3 Blessings exercise. To try this exercise, each evening before you go to bed, write down 3 things that went well that day and why they went well.

Feel free to share with me your experience of doing this exercise, by leaving a comment below.

I look forward to sharing more positive psychology tools and resources in upcoming posts.

For information about counseling sessions in Asheville, NC or consulting and coaching sessions by phone go to Deborah Barnett’s psychology website.

Deborah Barnett, Ph.D.