Self Improvement Newsletter
Issue # 45, July 18, 1999

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This is Issue # 45, Sunday, July 18, 1999 of the Self Improvement Weekly Newsletter, the FREE newsletter for Personal Growth, Self Improvement and Self Help.


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Publishers: David and Michelle Riklan - Self Improvement Online, Inc.

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In this issue:


-> Quotes of the Week

-> Personal Growth Products and Services

-> The Top 10 Ways to Live an Optimistic Life

-> BOOK REVIEW: " Learned Optimism - How to Change Your Mind and Your Life"

-> Brief News of the World

-> How to subscribe to this newsletter

-> How to view previous Issues of the Newsletter

-> How to Advertise in the Self Improvement Newsletter






A 'No' uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.  -Mahatma Gandhi


The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. -Dolly Parton


Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift-- which is why they call it the present. - Bill Keane


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*** The Top 10 Ways to Live an Optimistic Life ***



     1. Surround yourself with optimistic people.

We humans are extremely impressionable creatures and tend to absorb and take on the qualities of our surrounding environment to a large extent. It is very difficult to maintain a high level of optimism when you spend time with people who are negative, pessimistic, resigned or playing the victim role. Instead, seek friends, associates, and life partners who demonstrate visibly optimistic attitudes and pay close attention to how they respond to adversity.


     2. Avoid television and most media for at least 6 months.

Most of what we see and hear in the media has a fairly pessimistic tone. Notice how our culture loves to tear people down (usually after building them up). Even the commercials we watch tend to point out where we are lacking, or where we should buy some product in order to have our lives work properly. Perhaps the best thing to do is to give it up completely for an extended period of time. Read a book, listen to music, call a friend, meditate, play with your children, cultivate a hobby, go for a walk... whatever! Just do something else. You'll be very glad that you did and you'll have much more energy available to spend in other areas.


     3. Understand the distinction: Optimism vs. Realism.

Many people think being optimistic is fool-hardy or pollyanna-ish because it doesn't always take into account the real story or situation. Well, there is an argument there worth exploring AND, to put it simply, optimism is just a more efficient and enjoyable system to use most of the time. There are definitely times when being a realist is important or even necessary (making a business decision, buying a house, choosing a school for your children). However, for your regular day-to-day living, optimism is probably the more useful approach. The thing which most often stops people from reaching their goals or living their dreams is their own limiting (non-optimistic) self-talk.


     4. Read the Book, *Learned Optimism - How to Change Your Mind and Your Life,* by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. (Click below to other reviews or to purchase the book)

This is a wonderful piece of work and provides several key insights and techniques that can literally change the way you think. I read this during a very low point in my own life, and it very quickly got me headed in a positive direction again.


     5. Take an Optimism Assessment to determine your level of optimism.

I have seen these in various places, and I recommend the assessment in the book described above. It is very important to get an accurate picture of just how optimistic you already are. It might surprise you to find the answer to that one.


     6. Take total responsibility for your entire life.

While it may be possible to be optimistic and not totally responsible - from an integrity standpoint, it's better to accept that you ARE responsible for everything that happens in your life. That way, you will be quick to respond to difficult situations vs. wanting to fret and moan about how it *wasn't your fault* or *life isn't fair.* It's about acceptance, and seeing that the present is always perfect (even when you'd like to believe otherwise).


     7. Identify your core beliefs.

Many times, pessimistic thoughts have their roots in beliefs that you endorsed at a young age. If you were to examine such a limiting belief now, you might quickly discard it. However, the problem is that you haven't examined it lately, and it is currently operating in your life (maybe even running your life). It's like having a closet full of clothes, some of which you wore 10 or 15 years ago. Until you actually look and have a chance to discover that these outdated, worn articles of clothing are still hanging around (even though they no longer fit or have any real use), you likely won't throw them out. And, there is much less space available for the clothes that DO fit!


     8. Eliminate everything you are tolerating or procrastinating/incomplete about.

By doing this, you will give your self-esteem and confidence a big boost. When you let these types of things hang around, not only do you lose vast amounts of energy, you begin to feel impotent in life. It starts to feel like you are incapable of handling/completing certain tasks. When you reach that place, negative thoughts are just around the corner. Make a list of the top ten things you are tolerating or procrastinating about, and handle one of them right NOW.


     9. Get clarity about what you truly want.

It's always been hard for humans to get in touch with what they REALLY want in life. And today, it's even more difficult due to the infinite number of choices and options available to us and the confusion we have due to advertising, society, etc. When you do get clear about what you want out of your life, and you orient yourself around that choice, optimism can blossom naturally because you will experience a deep sense of purpose and mission about who you are and why you're here.


     10. Hire a professional coach to help you work through this process.

You CAN do it on your own, especially by following most of the items on this list, AND it will be an even more enjoyable process (less suffering along the way) if you have a coach accompany you during the journey. You definitely will need some form of outside support; a friend, spouse, co-worker, etc. who will be as committed to your optimism as you are (maybe more committed), so at the very least, design some support structures that will allow you to stay on track.


     About the Submitter


     This piece was originally submitted by Paul Rarick, Professional Coach, who can be reached at , or visited on the web. Paul Rarick wants you to know: I coach artists, entrepreneurs and professionals in attaining high levels of flow and fulfillment in their personal and business lives.


Copyright 1997, 98, 99, by Coach U, all rights reserved.


The content above may be forwarded in full, with copyright/contact/creation information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from CoachU is required, with notification to the original author. Questions: email .



*** BOOK REVIEW: "Learned Optimism - How to Change Your Mind and Your Life"***


"Learned Optimism - How to Change Your Mind and Your Life" Written by Martin Seligman.


Martin Seligman, a renowned psychologist and clinical researcher, has been studying optimists and  pessimists for 25 years. Pessimists believe that bad events are their fault, will last a long time, and undermine everything. They feel helpless and may sink into depression, which is epidemic today, especially among youths. Optimists, on the other hand, believe that defeat is a temporary setback or a challenge--it doesn't knock them down. "Pessimism is escapable," asserts Seligman, by learning a new set of cognitive skills that will enable you to take charge, resist depression, and make yourself feel better and accomplish more.


About two-thirds of this book is a psychological discussion of pessimism, optimism, learned

helplessness (giving up because you feel unable to change things), explanatory style (how you habitually explain to yourself why events happen), and depression, and how these affect success, health, and quality of life. Seligman supports his points with animal research and human cases. He includes tests for you and your child--whose achievement may be related more to his or her level of optimism/pessimism than ability. The final chapters teach the skills of changing from pessimism to optimism, with worksheet pages to guide you and your child. --Joan Price



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-In a finding that could protect 1,000 babies a day from the AIDS virus, a new study shows the drug nevirapine is dramatically more effective and much cheaper than the therapy now recommended in developing nations for reducing the spread of HIV from mother.

-To help bridge the 'digital divide' - the gap between white people and blacks and Hispanics in access to the Internet - the NAACP and AT&T will partner to create technology centers in 20 cities that will provide computer training and Internet seminars.         

-A new study reveals that a novel nasal spray appears to work better than conventional flu

shots at protecting kids against influenza.

-Higher education levels give the elderly protection from dementia and memory loss, researchers report.

-Apple Computer reported better-than expected earnings and a half-billion dollar stock buy-back




The man suspected of riding the rails on a murder spree that claimed eight lives in three states surrendered to federal authorities on Tuesday.

Babies are less likely to grow up into fat children if they are fed breast milk exclusively, a new study shows -- providing powerful ammunition for the campaign to encourage mothers to choose the breast over the bottle.

Senate Republicans, rolling over Democrats in a week of party-line votes, passed a patients' bill of rights despite a White House veto threat.

The Pentagon is conducting what is believed to be the largest-ever simultaneous test of computer systems to make sure Year 2000 problems won't prevent delivery of everything from bullets to toilet paper to American troops.

Walt Disney Co. said on Monday it agreed with Infoseek Corp. to combine Disney's Buena Vista Internet Group with Infoseek and create a single Internet business called which will trade under its own stock symbol.


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