The Happiness Hypothesis: Optimism

When something unfortunate happens to us and things just don’t line up or make sense, it’s easy to get caught up in a downward spiral of emotions. Knowing these following three coping mechanisms, most would agree that two are healthy and one detrimental. Next time you face some adversity in your life, do your best to keep these three coping mechanisms in mind and try to decide which YOU choose in order to cope with your pain.

When a crisis strikes, people cope in three primary ways: active coping (taking direct action to fix the problem), reappraisal (doing the work within- getting one’s own thoughts right and looking for silver linings), and avoidance coping (working to blunt one’s emotional reactions by denying or avoiding the events, or by drinking, drugs, and other distractions). People who have a basic-level trait of optimism tend to develop a coping style that alternates between active coping and reappraisal. Because optimists expect their efforts to pay off, they go right to work fixing the problem. But if they fail, they expect that things usually work for the best, and so they can’t help but look for possible benefits. When they find them, they write a new chapter in their life story, a story of continual overcoming and growth.” -Jonathan Haidt (pg.146)

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The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom


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