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Encouraging Optimism Based on Positive Expectations

CEUs/OPD/CPD are available for this presentation are at or

~ Define hope and optimism
~ Explore the connection between positive expectations and optimism
~ Identify blocks to optimism
~ Identify steps to optimism

Research on Optimism
~ Patient coping and expectations about recovery predict the development of chronic post-surgical pain after traumatic tibial fracture repair. Br J Anaesth. 2016 Sep; 117(3): 365–370.
~ Patients who are optimistic about recovery following an injury will actually recover and return to work faster than patients who are less optimistic. At Work, Issue 65, Summer 2011: Institute for Work & Health, Toronto
~ Positive patient expectations associated with positive patient-reported outcomes in Surgery: A Systematic Review Surgery. 2014 May; 155(5): 799–808.
~ Optimism was found to have a positive effect on personal recovery and mental health after a tornado outbreak. Psychol Health. 2017 May;32(5):530-548
~ Optimism has been shown to significantly influence the course of some diseases (cancer, HIV, coronary heart disease) J Health Psychol. 2016 Aug;21(8):1758-67

Health Effects of Optimism
~ Reduced cortisol
~ Improved sleep
~ Reduced blood pressure
~ Improved health-related behaviors
~ Faster healing Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Segerstrom, S. C. (2010). Optimism. Clinical psychology review, 30(7), 879-89.
Hope and Optimism
~ Hope is a passive emotion unrelated to the likeliness of the outcome. (winning the lottery)
~ Hope is based on the anticipation of positive future developments.
~ Optimism is confidence in attainment of the goal (getting into graduate school) through a belief that the person will find a path to achieve the desired goal and will be motivated to walk this path.
~ How could you be optimistic about winning the lottery?
~ You are hopeful before a job interview and optimistic after it.
~ The more control people perceive they have the more optimistic (and hopeful) they can be, because the outcome is now attainable
~ To any challenge, an optimist reacts with faith in reaching desirable results and continually taking part in the activity even if the process is long and difficult
~ An optimistic explanatory style can be characterized by the attribution of external, unstable and specific causes to failures and negative events
~ People using an optimistic strategy do not think too much about possible risks and imagine themselves in a situation where they are coping successfully.
Hope and Optimism
~ Hope and optimism consists of three basic components –
~ Goals
~ Will/determination/motivation
~ Pathways to the goals

Hope and Optimism
~ When you are negative and hopeless you tend to notice the things that are not going the way you want*
~ When you are positive, you seize on the good things. (pan for gold)
~ If optimism is hope combined with perceived control and ability to achieve goals then….
~ Positive expectations can help people become more optimistic.
~ Note: This only works for things people have some degree of control over.
Step One
~ Create Positivity
~ Start looking at events in terms of what you want instead of what you lost or do not have.
~ What is it that I want (my goal)?
~ What parts of this can I control?
~ What resources and capabilities do I have that I can use?
~ How have I, or someone I know, gotten through similar situations?
~ What is the likelihood that this will go well?
~ Why is it worth the effort (motivation)?
Step 2
~ Create a self-fulfilling prophesy
~ Create a POSITIVE self fulfilling prophesy
~ Reframe the situation
~ Set SMART goals
~ Avoid rigid expectations (for other peoples behaviors, for the way things are going to turn out, for something extraordinary)
~ Shore up resources
~ Envision the positive—repeatedly
~ Act as if…
~ Attribute failures and setbacks to external, unstable and specific causes
~ Use the rule of expectations (people rise to the occasion)

Step 3
~ Eliminate the negative self-fulfilling prophesy
~ Moderate unrealistic expectations
~ Examine thoughts and expectations based on prior learning.
~ Learn from the past. It doesn’t have to repeat itself. “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.”
~ Relationships
~ Jobs
~ Sporting events
~ Coping ability
~ Recovery

Step 4
~ Get Support
~ Other people are more adept at helping you find the hidden nuggets
~ Other people are great cheerleaders
~ Other people can help you identify unrealistic or pessimistic thoughts
~ Support yourself by being mindful and intentionally focusing on the positive.

~ Positive expectations inspire optimism
~ Hope is a feeling that things will work out
~ Optimism is a cognitive belief that the path has been set and if you follow that path, things will work out
~ Helping people develop positive expectations means
~ Addressing negative expectations
~ Envisioning positive outcomes
~ Creating a realistic plan
~ Getting support