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Interview and Book Giveaway: 10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People

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Update: The winners for this giveaway are:

I have a confession to make—I sometimes cringe when someone tells me to “just be positive.” I’ve often assumed this really means, “Your sadness is making me uncomfortable, so please stop talking about it.”

To be fair, I wouldn’t classify myself as a negative person—not now, anyways—though I have my moments. I do, however, feel for anyone who might be classified that way, as I know from experience that deep negativity often comes from deep pain.

We all face our own battles in life, some more overwhelming than others. And sometimes it seems nearly impossible to nurture a positive attitude.

But it is possible. And sometimes, it’s the only thing that keeps us going when it seems unlikely we’ll find our way through the darkness.

Optimism is a powerful thing. When you’re optimistic, you don’t deny that you’re going through a hard time. You don’t suppress your feelings or pretend you’re happy. You simply believe that something good could come from your struggles—even if you can’t yet fathom what that might be.

You believe that life is happening for you, not to you, and that you’re not a victim but rather someone with immense potential to overcome your odds and thrive.

Because you believe, you’re able to keep moving forward—learning, growing, and making the best of your circumstances—when it would be easier to give up.

I’m always inspired to read stories from people who’ve found silver linings in tragedy because it reminds me that we have immense power to shape our lives through our perceptions and responses. This is what brought me to Dave Mezzapelle’s new book 10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People.

Dave’s on a mission to get people to “power their lives with the positive.”

In this follow-up to his bestselling book Contagious Optimism, he’s collected more than 100 stories from amazingly resilient individuals, and compiled them into 10 chapters based on—you guessed it—the habits of optimistic people.

I’m grateful that Dave took the time to answer some questions about himself and his book, and that he’s provided two copies for Tiny Buddha readers.

10 Habits of Truly Optimistic PeopleThe Giveaway

To enter to win one of two free copies of 10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People:

  • Leave a comment below.
  • For an extra entry, tweet: Enter the @tinybuddha giveaway to win a free copy of 10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People http://bit.ly/1DEk1RR

You can enter until midnight PST on Wednesday, April 8th.  Two winners will be chosen at random on April 9th.

The Interview

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to create this series.

I have always been a positive, upbeat person and very optimistic. And, I always made it a point to find the bright side of a problem, which I found made it easier to surmount. In addition, I have always loved people’s stories.

Over the course of the past twenty years, my alma mater, Fairfield University in Connecticut, had suggested that I write a book on optimism in business. This was based on the way I ran my company for seventeen years.

I didn’t have an interest in writing something like this until 2010. I literally woke up one day and said, “I will do it. But let’s not just make it about me. Let’s make it about lots of people. And let’s not just make it about business. Instead, let’s make it about many of life’s themes including business.”

 2. What have you learned about the benefits of optimism?

After spending years collecting silver lining stories from around the globe, one of the most powerful facts I learned is that being a positive, optimistic person not only allows people to achieve greatness, but it has numerous mental and physical benefits as well.

From a biological standpoint, we benefit from the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine when we are happy, positive, and optimistic.

Mentally, we find ourselves in a good place that makes everything else seem easier (or at least less difficult for those that are going through tough times).

People have nothing to lose from being positive versus the stress they definitely gain from being negative. Don’t run away from obstacles and adversity but be positive in your ability to address and surmount them.

And when we are feeling good about ourselves and optimistic about our future, we tend to look better as well. Our skin tone, our posture, and our confidence all shine. And, even our physique improves when we combine optimism with a workout or exercise schedule.

3. The book features more than 100 true stories from people who’ve learned the power of optimism. I’m sure you found all of them inspiring in different ways, but is there one that really stuck with you—and why?

They all have affected me. In addition to the 100 stories you referenced in this book, we have thousands in our essay bank for future volumes. It has been nothing shy of awesome being able to read these stories and learn about these people.

What sticks with me is not one particular story but the fact that everyone has a silver lining story to share. However, I will share an amazing story about Yvette Pegues.

Yvette was an employee of IBM in their global patent office. She traveled the world and knew many languages. She also has two young boys and a terrific husband.

One day Yvette had terrible headaches and was rushed to the hospital to find that she had a genetic brain malformation. They performed emergency surgery, which caused a brain stem stroke that left her in a wheelchair for life.

Instead of letting this bring her down, she was a first responder to the earthquake in Haiti (the same year of her stroke—2010). She also competed in and won Miss Wheelchair Georgia and, in 2014, Miss Wheelchair USA where I was the keynote speaker.

Today, Yvette has devoted her life to helping children worldwide improve their literacy skills.

4. In one of your previous interviews, you talked about the steps you believe people should follow to help them embrace optimism when facing hurdles, with the acronym “GSM.” Can you tell us more about those three steps?

GSM stands for Gratitude, Stories, and Magnet.

Gratitude—you need to be grateful for even the smallest things in life. This can be something simple like the sunrise, a glass of water, your pet, or the smell of the ocean. Simple gratitude makes everything feel special, big or small.

Stories—When people are going through tough times, they tend to think that they’re alone. However, when they hear or read stories of how others have persevered, it gives them hope. And, hope is that important foundation of optimism.

Magnet—“Optimism is a happiness magnet.” ~Mary Lou Retton. I love this quote. You want to surround yourself with good, uplifting people. Their happiness and positive attitude is certainly contagious. It brings you up and adds light to your day.

But, conversely, sometimes it’s difficult to avoid the negative people, the naysayers, and the cynics. Unfortunately, their negativity is contagious as well. They may be in your office, your classroom, or your apartment.

In those cases, just ignore their chatter and simply tolerate them. It doesn’t mean you need to absorb their energy. Don’t take their negative opinions to heart and don’t let them influence you.

5. Conventional wisdom about becoming more positive suggests we should avoid “negative people,” but in my experience, “negative people” often need our love and support the most. Have you learned anything that can help us find a middle ground so that we’re minimizing the negative effects of spending time with pessimists, but not just writing them off so that we may actually be able to help them?

Yes. We never suggest ignoring or isolating pessimists. We just assert that what others do or say is a reflection of their own reality, so don’t take it personally and don’t let it bring you down.

Some people are just naturally pessimistic and it is not our job to change them but at least being a ray of sunshine around them can bring them light without allowing their nature to pull us down.

I believe that true success in everything comes from combining effort, reality, and positive thinking. Optimism alone will keep you in the clouds. And oftentimes reality alone will prevent you from getting passed first base.

However, when you combine all three, things happen in a big way! And this is based on our extensive experience of interviewing people and capturing their silver lining stories.

6. What do you believe is the biggest obstacle to optimism, and what’s one thing we can do to overcome it?

Outside influences are the #1 obstacle. This can be a negative friend, family member, coworker or boss, or even the media. An outside influence can reduce or eliminate optimism.

The best way to overcome it is to make it a point to minimize your exposure to the naysayers and cynics. In addition to watching or reading the news, try to follow positive stories and positive programming as well.

Look in the mirror and remember that what others do or say is a reflection of their own self, not a reflection of you.

Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Four Agreements, asserts, “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

Conversely, appreciating those around you that appreciate who you are and what you stand for is tantamount for your own optimism and for making it contagious for others.

7. Of the ten habits shared in the book, which do you think is the most difficult to form, and what’s one simple practice anyone can use to begin cultivating it today?

Everyone is different so this is a difficult question. For example, some people struggle with embracing change (chapter one).

Others have a difficult time appreciating those around them (chapter two).

And, I have also noticed that many people do not believe in themselves and the value they possess (chapter five).

So, in my opinion, the one simple practice is to take a deep breath and concentrate on the fact that others have had it so much worse and have made it through. And, the best way to prove that to yourself is to either read books like Contagious Optimism and Chicken Soup For the Soul and/or connect with others that have been in the same boat.

It is very powerful to learn about the patience, persistence, and perseverance of others.

8. What’s the main message that you hope readers take from this book?

We all have stories. What you think may be boring or uneventful is actually inspirational and motivational to others around the globe. So, considering sharing your stories and remember, we are all naturally mentors just by the sheer impression of our footsteps.

You can learn more about 10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People here.

FTC Disclosure: I receive complimentary books for reviews and interviews on tinybuddha.com, but I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I earn a percentage of all books purchased through the links I provide on this site. 

Smiley face image via Shutterstock

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She’s also the author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, Tiny Buddha's Worry Journal, and Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. For daily wisdom, join the Tiny Buddha list here. You can also follow Tiny Buddha on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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