While re-framing, optimism, and positivity all are aspects of positive reappraisal, at its heart positive reappraisal is much more. Properly done, positive reappraisal is a new way of looking at the world. Yes, positive reappraisal heightens happiness and re-enforces resilience. Yes, positive reappraisal scales back negative emotions and slashes stress. Yes, positive reappraisal is a mood booster and has undeniable health benefits. Is it a panacea? No, in part because it only works if you do the work.
Positive reappraisal is a coping mechanism, a mental technique, an adaptive process whereby events are viewed in different, multiple lights, divergent, creative frames if you wish. Instead of an energy draining, mind sapping “woe is me, isn’t this horrible, how will I ever cope” approach, you try on various even offbeat mindsets: What is good about this? Anything at all positive? Anything to be grateful for? What can I learn from this? How would someone else approach this? How have others solved? How can I run with this? Roll with the punches? Others have turned stumbling blocks into stepping-stones, how can I?
Positive reappraisal is a form of emotional regulation, a type of time out, a shift of focus, a way to bathe your tired spirit in the restorative power of solutions-oriented thinking. Positive reappraisal is NOT about denial or checking out or abdication, rather it challenges us to approach issues from contra, unique or even disparate angles; to modify and enlarge our mindsets and to accept and acknowledge that within every difficulty lie growth opportunities beyond which we will emerge stronger and wiser.
“Do not consider painful what is good for you.” – Euripedes, 480 BC -c. 406 B
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward, 1921-1994
“While you can’t control your experiences, you can control your explanations.” – Martin E.P. Seligman, ‘Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life’
“Rumination (worry), positive reappraisal and optimism are statistically significant predictors of perceived stress. As levels of positive reappraisal and optimism increase, perceived stress decreases. Thus, reappraising stressful situations in a positive light and having an optimistic outlook on life ameliorates stress while dwelling on the negative aspects of stressful situations exacerbates the experience of stress.” – A Study of the Relationship Between Cognitive Emotion Regulation, Optimism, and Perceived Stress Among Selected Teachers
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier