The Optimist

While digging through a “Free Swap” area on campus I came upon a forcefully optimistic series of etchings laid out on some sort of a plaque situation

The Optimist Creed:

  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind
  • To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet,
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them,
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true,
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievement of the future
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble

Neat. A swirl of reactions shared that space behind my eyes after I located and skimmed over this. One reaction tasted like Wow this is psycho this is brainwashing and another reaction had some sort of a Yeah but you need it, you sick fuck type of overtone. Grabbed the thing, brought it home and made a commitment to memorize it. Thought I’d elect one item on the list as a area to focus on (optimistically, of course) & choose another that seems to be going ok. On typing out the list one jumped out as urgently in need of work and it was less clear which item I’m doing best with. Following that I’m curious to find/post at least an article or two on the neural substrates of positive/negative thinking.

Urgently in need of work: To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize othersThis one screamed at me.

Doing best: Maybe To make all your friends feel that there is something in them, or To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future? The former case makes me smile because I think friends would have good things to say about that. The issue with the latter would be the hours spent daily ruminating about past/current failures. But the feedback I often get from adults is that in the long game I am overwhelmingly more resilient and future-focused than the other young folks they run into. The discrepancy between that externally-imposed feedback and the actual inner experience/introspective assessment is really jarring but hey, that’s psychology.


Materials & readings on optimism, pessimism, & associated neural bonanza:

Richie Unplugged: My #1 role model explains to you how and why to keep your mind right. Had to start with this

  • Bonus- no powerpoint or reading necessary

Richie, plugged back in: A lovely overview of ~current research taking place in the Davidson lab back home in Madison. You’ll note some brief descriptions of research under WELL-BEING & BEHAVIOR that seem to dig most closely towards this gem called optimism

  • This is a pile of summaries about what Richie is working on in Madison. If you’re not salivating upon reading those studies (just consider all the other thousands of studies being funded in the biomedical sciences) you might not be optimistic enough!

From the NYT: Turning negative thinkers into positive ones

  • Mentions some neat research by a researcher by the name of Barbara Fredrickson (creates new bookmark) who I haven’t heard of before.

Good summary (on Oprah’s website! Ayyye!) of the merits of choosing happiness, featuring a boatload of neuroscience references

  • The article mentions a David Lykken, PHD, here in Minnesota at the U. Haven’t heard of him until now – (adds new bookmark to Brainman folder) – eager to see what he’s about and if he’s around these days. Bad news – on looking the guy up turns out he passed 12 years ago. Oh well.
  • Make sure to scroll all the way down in this reading – it’s actually 5 full pages long but one can easily get the impression it stops when the first page stops.

The association between resting functional connectivity and dispositional optimism (Ran, J. Yang, W. Yang, Wei, J. Qiu, Zhang)

  • Haven’t read this one all the way through but not surprisingly the abstract mentions the vmPFC. Heck!!!

“What is Unrealistic Optimism?” (Jefferson, Bortolotti, Kuzmanovic)

  • Absolutely necessary adjunct reading for anyone getting too hyped, biased, or fundamentalist about optimism
  • Uses the term positive illusion as an umbrella term encompassing their defined notion of unrealistic optimism. Positive illusion would be/is my overall characterization of optimism but it seems these authors demarcate between optimism as being rational/a proper assessment of circumstances (no illusion here) and optimism sometimes being irrational/an improper assessment of circumstances (illusory).

 

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Poetry challenge from MM: Delilah

Hey there, Delilah
What’re you like, perfect kitty?
I’m 200 miles away
But, cat, in pictures you look pretty
Yes, you do
Someday I swear I will meet you
I swear, it’s true
Hey there, Delilah
Someday you’ll also meet my kittens
We’re right here if you get lonely
If Maddie needs a kitty-sitter
Close your eyes
We’re just a ways, a brief car ride
We’re by your side
Meow, it’s what you do to me
Meow, it’s what you do to me
Meow, it’s what you do to me
Meow, it’s what you do to me
What you do to me
Hey there, Delilah
I know the squirrels are all outside
But just believe me, cat
Someday you’ll be free and run and glide
You’ll have it good
You’ll kill the rabbits in the woods
Like predators should
Hey there, Delilah
I’ve got so much left to say
If every simple song I wrote to you
Were original – well, uh oh, hey…
My words aren’t true
I plagiarized this song for you
I’m sorry dude
Oh, it’s what you do to me
Oh, it’s what you do to me
Oh, it’s what you do to me
Oh, it’s what you do to me

Poetry challenge from RG: Vastness

Vastness

 

Most folks will say “look up! at that little twinkling star”,

& maybe rattle numbers off – “it’s really, REALLY far!”

suppose it’s true, cosmos are large, perhaps they’re kinda big

but look down at your bag of skin and let your daydreams dig

Seven billion people roam our “vast” tiny Earth

But seven billion billion billion atoms teem within one’s girth

They talk and play and scream and die as we all are right now

They love and hate and question fate and probably tip cows

All the while praying watching, wondering what they are

Colossal chemists peering in from microscopes afar

So don’t feel too small or look to stars to find some spacious wealth

The vastness of a universe is really in yourself

 

 

 

A winter poem

IMG_4538.CR2.jpg

 

Oh! An alert to dread! Read about my chilled terror, a misery – oh, frigid adjectives shuffling meaningfully

Here’s the second line now, and with it I lament of an ‘approaching coldness’ and it makes you think about winter and how much it sucks

snow, brr

and so on