Learned Optimism

Learned Optimism (Vintage, 2006)

One of the consequences of the synodical call process is an inherent learned helplessness.  In our synodical culture, unlike the secular world, it is not considered proper to aggressively seek employment.  When an individual exhibits learned helplessness, problems are viewed as personal, pervasive and permanent.  Good things, in contrast, are seen as external, specific, and temporary.

Author Martin Seligman provides a 48-question test for you to assess your own optimism.  When I took the test, I was encouraged to find out that I was more optimistic than I perceived myself to be.  Later in the book the author provides a children’s version of the optimism test.  Directions for interpreting the results follow each test.

A significant portion of the book describes Dr. Seligman’s many year of research and verification of his theory.  While it makes for fascinating reading, especially if you are statistically oriented, the research is not integral to the process of learning optimism.

The book concludes with the ABCDE process for living the optimistic life: Adversity-Belief- Consequences- Disputation- Energization.  Biblical principles, although not specifically referenced, easily are reconciled with this process.

About the author

Dave Henning

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