Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 23 of 179 
Next page End Contents 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28  

are primarily brief classroom exercises, short experiments using
students, or old humanistic exercises. It seems to me that this is a
flimsy basis to suggest such brief experiences will change the life-long
habits of being unappreciative and emphasizing the negative. Being
more appreciative and grateful in a class assignment may be good
beginnings but much longer efforts to change spread over many more
areas of your life will be needed to permanently change your basic
personality from negative or positive. 
Likewise, negative thoughts, angry resentments, prejudice towards
groups, thoughts blaming others, and the urge for revenge (he has
another rating scale for that) can’t be undone in a short while.
Seligman, himself, enumerates several reasons we are reluctant to
give up our bitter thoughts about the past. Moreover, he has
repeatedly emphasized the power of genetic inheritance in influencing
these powerful behavioral/emotional reactions and then seems to
suggest in his book that these reactions can be overcome by briefly
“re-writing your history,” i.e., by reconsidering, forgetting, forgiving or
suppressing your bad memories. He gives one example of how a
psychologist (Worthington, 2002) forgave someone—a person who had
killed his mother. It is a good example of understanding (by a
professional specializing in forgiveness) forming the basis for
forgiveness. I certainly believe the research findings that forgiveness
training (done in the laboratory) leads many subjects to reporting less
stress and anger later. However, it may be different in highly complex
real life. Unlike a psychologist, such as Worthington, a critical,
resentful, vindictive person has years of habits of thought to overcome
and erase. In that case, becoming understanding and mellow is likely
to be a huge, long project with repeated backsliding. As another of
Seligman’s books suggest, science has not concluded that changing
oneself is simple and easy, such as just a couple of self-change
methods done in a group (Seligman, 1995). 
Perhaps several other self-change methods, applied over months in
several areas, would also contribute to appreciating and accepting the
In the next step towards happiness, Seligman attempts to
brighten our future outlook, like the past, by increasing our positive
emotions—hope, optimism, self-confidence, and enthusiasm for things
to come. You can measure and understand your optimism-pessimistic
beliefs on his Web site
you study the test results carefully, you can see that when you feel
optimistic you tend to believe good events have permanent or
frequently repeated causes. For example, good actions and events
may be seen as due to your own consistent personal traits that have
considerable influence. Those conditions will keep the good times
coming. Likewise, if bad events are seen as being caused by
Previous page Top Next page

« Back