Monday, August 11, 2008

'Learned Optimism.'

Ever since my last post I've been mentally tallying a list of things I want to write about, but have been consumed with formatting my first Blog Book! I have almost finished formatting my first year's blog with Blurb, and will just wait a little while until I can afford to publish it. For anyone who has already done this, what company or site did you use? And for anyone who wants to do this and hasn't, I recommend starting now because it is quite time-consuming, and I have much less to do than many of you! At least I just have my files saved and I can tweak it or publish it at will. At least it's ready.
So what's on my mind right now? This book I started reading last night, 'Learned Optimism'. I frequently read self-help books in an effort to better understand and manage my depression. I don't know how much difference it makes since it's an on-going struggle, but I would say that I've made progress. I think I spend most of my time not depressed, with fewer and shorter 'sodes, and that hasn't always been the case. This book sounded interesting as I would love to be an optimist. I have never thought of myself as a pessimist, really. (Some of you may be snickering-) But truly, I think of myself as realistic, and only given to pessimism when I am depressed. Obviously I can make improvement towards being more of an optimist or I wouldn't be reading this book. Well not too far into the book, I came across the inevitable quiz to determine your degree of pessimism. After all, the author asserts that far more people are pessimists than they realize or would admit. I think it is a very interesting quiz, and not as obvious as so many are. Most of the time I take any sort of personality-revealing quiz I cannot help but try and analyze what I think I am admitting to in my answers. I try to remain unbiased, but I can generally tell which answers are right, and that makes it hard to answer objectively. This quiz was different. It is based on several different criteria, or categories, and if taken with care and thought is very interesting and revealing! I found it online and linked it above if you want to take it- I suggest you do. If you are going to, ignore the next portion of this post until you have taken and scored your own test.
Here were my surprising (to me) results:
The first category is what is called Permanence, or how long you believe certain events will last.
There is Permanent Bad for how you view the bad events that occur. My score was 6, or equal to what is 'quite pessimistic.'
There is also Permanent Good, which measures the same belief only with good things. My score here was 3, or equal to 'moderately pessimistic.'
Next is Pervasiveness- whether you can compartmentalize a problem, or whether it 'bleeds' over into everything. 'It comes down to this: People who make universal explanations for their failures give up on everything when a failure strikes in one area.' That describes me to a 't'! My score for Pervasive Bad was 6, or 'moderately pessimistic.' For Pervasive Good, a 2- 'very pessimistic'.
Next is a gauge for your level of Hope. Another statement that describes me perfectly: 'Finding permanent and universal causes for misfortune is the practice of despair...People who make permanent and universal explanations for their troubles tend to collapse under pressure, both for a long time and across situations... No other single score is as important as your hope score.'
My score: 12, or 'severely hopeless.' Okay.
Personalization: whether you internalize or externalize the causes of good and bad events around you. It is a good indicator of your self-esteem: an optimist would externalize bad events and internalize good ones. So my scores: Personalization Bad- 7, or 'indicates very low self-esteem.' Personalization Good- 3, 'moderately pessimistic.'
Next you use those numbers to calculate your totals of Bad (your views and responses to bad events) and Good(likewise with good events). Bad- 18. 'Anything above 14 cries out for change'. My Good-8, or 'indicates great pessimism.'
Finally, you subtract your Bad score from the Good, and I got -10. It says 'a score of 0 or below is very pessimistic.' I got -10, people. Apparently I am in the lowest scores across the board-in every aspect of pessimism. (and thusly, depression, one can extrapolate.)
Luckily I was laughing out loud throughout the scoring of this quiz, especially at my final score. (That's optimistic, right?) I was really surprised. Even though I wouldn't have previously described myself as a pessimist, I could admit to some pessimism- otherwise I wouldn't fall prey to depression so easily. But I'm really bad off! Stupidly, my first thought was 'Wow, I'm a hopeless pessimist'! Then I immediately realized the redundancy and ridiculousness of that statement.
Something to think about. I'm anxious to read on since I'm only on page 53. I'm sure I will post more revelatory and insightful information from this book as I go on. I am feeling hopeful (despite my hopeless scores) because according to the title of the book, optimism can be learned and I am an anxious pupil!
If you took the test, how did you do?
The Book is 'Learned Optimism' by Martin Seligman.


charlotte said...

I scored an overall -2. Oh dear. I thought I was way better than that . . . I really don't think I have low self-esteem like the test says. Huh.

Anonymous said...

Permanence bad - 3 (Mod Opt.)
Permanence good - 7 (Very Opt.)
Pervasive bad - 5 (Mod Pess.)
Pervasive good - 5 (Average)
Hope - 8 (Average)
Personal bad - 6 (Mod low S.E.)
Personal good - 3 (Mod Pess.)
Total Bad -14 (Mod Pess.)
Total Good -15 (Average)
Good Minus Bad - 1 (Mod Pess.)

Anonymous said...

The answers on that test are weird- like you could take responsibility for something happening or blame someone/thing else. I scored an overall 1...and mostly chose the answers that were not blaming others. So it makes me wonder if to be an optimist by their standards, you have to be the type to blame others for your problems?

I would say I am a realist with optimistic tendencies. According to the test I am moderately pessimistic.

Anonymous said...

Oh- and I hear Blurb is good for publishing.

Rin said...

permanence bad score 1 very optimistic
permanence good score 2 very pessimistic
pervasiveness bad score 3 moderately optimistic
pervasiveness good score 2 very pessimistic
stuff of hope 4 moderately hopeful
personalization bad score 4 average
personalization good score 5 average
total bad score 8 moderately optimistic
total good score 9 great pessimism
good minus bad score 1 moderately pessimistic

On all the good stuff i'm a pessimist, and on the bad stuff i'm an optimist...does this mean that I am more inclined to be happier and more hopeful when things are really bad around me? Hmmm...kind of how I grew up.

michelle said...

-9!!! But I'm not that surprised...

I remembered you saying in a recent post that Timm is an optimist and you are a realist. I loved that positive spin on pessimism!

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