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The Practical Effect of Optimism and Pessimism

Helen Keller | BIGG SuccessHelen Keller wrote a wonderful letter on optimism. We found it over on The American Foundation for the Blind site.

It’s a lengthy piece, but well worth the reading. In this post, we’ll share one particularly interesting passage.

FYI: We’re going to share more thoughts on this piece in an upcoming newsletter. Subscribe today and you’ll get it!

The human spirit overcomes physical limitations

She talked about Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, the founder of the prestigious Perkins School for the Blind, where Helen Keller was educated by Anne Sullivan.

She is discussing his work with Laura Bridgman. She was the first blind and deaf student in America to be educated in the English language, preceding Helen Keller by about fifty years.

With that background, here is Helen Keller in her own words:

“Dr. Howe found his way to Laura Bridgman’s soul because he began with the belief that he could reach it. English jurists had said that the deaf-blind were idiots in the eyes of the law. Behold what the optimist does. He converts a hard legal axiom; he looks behind the dull impassive clay and sees a human soul in bondage, and quietly, resolutely sets about its deliverance. His efforts are victorious. He creates intelligence out of idiocy and proves to the law that the deaf-blind man is a responsible being.”

She continues, “When [Howe] offered to teach the blind to read, he was met by a pessimism that laughed at his folly. Had he not believed that the soul of man is mightier than the ignorance that fetters it, had he not been an optimist, he would not have turned the fingers of the blind into new instruments.”

She closes this passage with a quote that really grabbed our attention:

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”

On the other hand, there is the optimist. She says:

“The optimist believes, attempts, achieves. He stands always in the sunlight. Some day the wonderful, the inexpressible, arrives and shines upon him, and he is there to welcome it. His soul meets his own and beats a glad march to every new discovery, every fresh victory over difficulties, every addition to human knowledge and happiness.”

The optimist finds BIGG success!

Image in this post from wikimedia

Do You Make Your Friends Happy?

happy_people A recent study of happiness showed that the birds you flock with make a bigg difference. Nicholas Christaskis with the Harvard Medical School and James Fowler from the University of California at San Diego found that the more connections you have with happy people, the more likely you are to be happy.

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It cuts both ways

They likened it to a quilt. If the person in the patch next to you is unhappy, it increases the likelihood that you’ll also be happy by seven percent.

If the person next to you is happy, it increases the odds that you’ll be happy by fifteen percent. It’s interesting to note that we seem to have some resilience to unhappy people since happy people tend to rub off twice as often as unhappy people.

But the good news is that is doesn’t stop there. If the person who knows the person next to you (i.e. the person two patches away) is happy, the probability that you’ll also be happy increases ten percent. So happy people one step removed still increases the odds that you’ll be happy more than that unhappy person next to you!

In a quest to find out how happy we could be once we get to Kevin Bacon’s patch (six patches of separation) on the quilt, the researchers found that if the person three blocks away is happy, your chances of being happy increase six percent.
Happiness is contagious!

4 questions to discover if you spread happiness

To determine if someone was happy, the researchers asked four questions. During the past week, how often …

  1. Did you enjoy life?
  2. Were you happy?
  3. Did you feel hopeful about the future?
  4. Did you feel that you were just as good as other people?

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marylynnI feel blessed because I have positive responses to each and every one of these questions. I guess I’m a happy person.

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georgeI think I’m a happy person as well. In fact, if I remember right, I was voted the “Happiest” person in high school! But when I look closely at these questions, it makes me think. Like the first question … I enjoy my life, but how often do I stop and recognize it?

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This study was released recently, but imagine how you might have responded if you were asked the third question at the height of the financial crisis. Uncertainty creates fear, but as these questions show, it’s important to remain optimistic in any environment. That’s where happy people come in – they’ll help you have a brighter outlook no matter what the situation!

There’s one more benefit to hanging out with happy people. The researchers reference a study done in 1984 that showed that having an extra $5,000 increased a person's chances of being happy by about two percent. Based on those results and the results of this study, the researchers conclude that a happy friend is worth $20,000!

They say a happy friend is worth $20,000. We’ll borrow from MasterCard – we think having a happy friend is … priceless!

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We really appreciate you checking in with us today. Join us next time when we discuss the three categories of spending. Keeping them in mind will keep your budget in line! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Two Proven Keys to Happiness

(Image in today's post by merala)

How to Stop Using a Crutch Word

crutches Merriam – Webster knows a little something about words. They just released the word of the year for 2008 … beg.

No, wait a minute, that’s our word for their word! Their word is … bailout.

Oxford University also recently released their own list – the most irritating phrases of 2008.

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Among them:

  • "24/7" finished ninth on the list. Can we add 365 to it?
  • "With all due respect" came in fifth. It made us think of one that irritates us. Why do people say, “I’m not trying to be rude” when they are getting ready to say something rude?
  • And the phrase that the wonderful people at Oxford found most irritating – “at the end of the day.”

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marylynnI love The Apprentice, but have you ever noticed how many contestants use that phrase over and over again?

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georgeI think I just figured out my New Year’s Resolution for 2009. I’m going to start using the phrase, “at the beginning of the day” because I’m an optimist!

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These phrases are crutches gone mainstream. They made us think about our own crutches.

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georgeI say “that’s right” a lot which is similar to “absolutely” which finished sixth on the Oxford list.

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marylynnI find myself saying “you know” more often than I would like. That’s definitely my crutch.

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Getting off crutches

  • Record yourself. In order to stop using crutch words, you have to become aware of them. Record yourself and listen to the words you’re using as a crutch.
  • Create substitutes. Come up with two or three alternates to the word or phrase you use over and over. When you feel yourself ready to rely on your crutch, or you know you’ve already said it, force yourself to use a different word or phrase.

So let’s look at “you know.” Why not lead with …

“You’re probably aware of this.”
“You may find this interesting.”
“I bet you can relate to this.”

Don’t those phrases sound better if you’re going to use one?

“That’s right” could be “Good point” or “You’re dead on.”

  • Pause to think. We won’t speak for you, but sometimes when we talk, our mouths seem to get ahead of our brains! So we lean on our crutches to fill the space. That’s because, as humans, we’re uncomfortable with … silence.

There’s no reason to be. A second of silence gives you time to fully digest what has been said. It actually improves communication.

What’s your crutch? What alternatives could you use? And, while we’re at it, what word or phrase drives you crazy?

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The Other Pause that Refreshes

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Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?

By Bigg Success Staff
03-26-08

Test Yourself

question_mark 

The good people at About.com have developed a great quiz to find out if you’re an optimist or a pessimist. You can actually choose between five quizzes. The full version is only 15 questions and will take you less than 5 minutes.

When you’re done, you’ll get a question-by-question summary, showing whether your answer is optimistic or pessimistic. You’ll also get a final score – and you’ll know how you rate overall.

So go ahead … take this quiz. Unless you think something bad is bound to happen if you do!

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