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The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results by Terry L. Paulson

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Chapter 7. Optimists Embrace Action

"If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time to build your wings on the way down."

Ray Bradbury

Learned Optimism author Martin Seligman observed: "Happiness divides into the domains of past, present and future. The past is your feelings of contentment or well-being. It's the life story you tell yourself. Present is what's usually called happiness. It's how you are feeling right now. And future is your optimism."

Making a move today, in the present, is the start of progress. After all, as Will Rogers loved to say: "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." Optimists cultivate a bias for action. You can't change what has happened to you, but you can embrace the action imperative and do what you can to invent a better future—starting immediately. Optimism is all about making a move to turn your worries and concerns into constructive action.

I once had a client who simply refused to act. After a few sessions together, it became clear to me that her past experiences with therapy had provided her with a hiding place from life, one where she had cultivated a vast array of excuses to avoid risk. After experiencing enough of her painful ruminations, I had given her a between-session assignment that required her to risk taking action.

Isn't it amazing how ...

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