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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't Worry, We're Optimistic By Nature

Humans are universally optimistic, according to a new study from the University of Kansas and the Gallup World Poll. More than 150,000 people in more than 140 countries were polled, and 89 percent say they expect the next five years to be as good or better than their life now. An even higher number—95 percent—expect their life five years from now to be as good or better than their life was five years ago.
Still, some countries are more optimistic than others. Ireland, Brazil, Denmark, and New Zealand are at the top, while Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti, and Bulgaria are at the bottom. The United States ranks 10th.


Docpotter said...

Perhaps humans are optimistic "by nature". Without reviewing the actual items, it is difficult to know if they are self-serving, as is often the case with polls.

However, telling people "don't worry" is bad advice. Worry is a kind of mental fire drill where we think about potential dangers and make contingency plans. The problem is that thinking of dangers triggers anxiety. Then the anxious mind looks for a cause to worry about and a vicious cycle is set into motion, which often crowds out everything else - often called worrywarting. The worrier or worrywart gets trapped in the worry and telling him or her to stop or to be optimistic can actually exacerbate it.

Better to learn to worry smart, which involves doing the work of worry, then realizing that one is anxious, taking specific steps to reduce or soothe oneself.

I've identified 21 ways to soothe oneself. Among them - and related to the focus of this blog, are saying a little prayer and recalling doing a good deed.

Of course, there are many other ways to quell anxiety. Do not expect anxiety to dissipate on its own. Laughter drives out anxiety. So turning off the news and watching a funny movie is a good idea. Rocking oneself is soothing, as is counting worry beads.

For more ways to soothe worry, see my article at http://www.docpotter.com/Worry_art.html