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Making sense of mistakes

October 15, 2012

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman says,
“Your way of explaining events to yourself determines how helpless you can become, or how energized, when you encounter the everyday setbacks as well as momentous defeats” (p. 16) .

In other words…

We humans are driven to find explanations for negative events in our lives. We can make personal and permanent reasons for setbacks, “I’m no good at this,” or “I always mess things up.” That will leave us with a very pessimistic view of the world and rob us of much of the joy life has to offer. Instead when we find temporary reasons for things, “I must be having an off-day” or “That was an especially difficult task” then we will be able to bounce back from trials and experience more happiness.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

Even if your natural inclination is pessimistic, you aren’t stuck with it. You can change the way you think! The next time something negative happens, rather than judge yourself to be a hopeless fool, find a temporary explanation for it.

To Find Out More…

about personal well-being, check out The Personal Journey or Managing Stress programs at, like us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You might also enjoy reading Learned Optimism.

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