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The Happy Cure: Learned Optimism


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· D: Disputation and distraction. This step is by far the hardest – because it involves changing your thought-process – but it can be done. Once you have identified the emotional consequences of your inner monologue, dispute those beliefs or distract yourself. Disputation might involve challenging the usefulness of the belief. Ask yourself, “Who benefits when I think this way?” If the answer is, “No one,” then that belief is not one worth having. You might also come up with specific external explanations for the event, instead of the explanation you gave yourself. Another option is distracting yourself from your destructive inner monologue and focusing on other more positive thoughts.

· E: Energization. Here come the rewards! This one is the easiest step – you will feel energized after going through steps A-D and will then start reacting to situations in a more positive light. Instead of blaming yourself or feeling hopeless to change the world around you, through your changed inner monologue you will start recognizing that the power to change is in your hands.

The Positive Part of Pessimism

Dr. Seligman makes a strong case for optimism; however, it is important to note that pessimism plays an important role in our lives as well. If we are eternal optimists, we might end up taking unnecessary chances. When there are high–risk, negative consequences to an event, it is a good idea to listen to your inner monologue that says, “This isn’t going to work – it is too risky!”

However, if there is a good chance that you will succeed, don’t hesitate to act. After all, we are always taught that Hashem helps those who help themselves. It is up to you to facilitate the change you want to see in the world!

An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


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