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New book shows pessimists how to be positive

University of Kentucky professor gives tips on acting like an optimist

University of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 8, 2006) − University of Kentucky psychology professor Suzanne Segerstrom has a new way of looking at the glass half empty or half full question. "If you want my opinion, it probably just needs to be washed," she said.

Segerstrom explores how optimists get what they want from life and how pessimists can too in her new book "Breaking Murphy's Law" hitting the sales racks Aug. 15. In the book, Segerstrom sheds light on the practical habits and skills optimists use to get what they want from life. Along the way, she challenges everyone else to learn from them.

"Dispositional optimists are people who naturally believe that more good things will happen to them than bad," she said. "Because success seems like a sure bet, they don't hesitate to spend time and energy chasing their dreams."

In "Breaking Murphy's Law," Segerstrom shows pessimists how to join the "positive feedback loop." "The more success you achieve through optimistic action, the more likely you are to believe and behave optimistically in the future," she said.

Segerstrom lays out examples, guidelines and practical tips to undo optimism-suppressing thoughts, break free from the inertia of self-doubt, pay attention to unexpected positives, plan well and work hard, resist the temptation to give up, and celebrate small achievements. The benefits might not be immediately obvious, but Segerstrom tells skeptics to stick with the program until they see results. "Exercising personal strengths, making progress toward goals, and tasting success are immensely pleasurable," she said.

Still, there are a few risks.

"Optimism is powerful stuff," Segerstrom said. "Despite your best efforts, you might develop a cheery attitude that friends and co-workers will find terribly annoying."

Segerstrom has conducted extensive research into psychological influences on the immune system, and on the relationship between optimism and well-being. She is also the winner of the Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, awarded in recognition of her work on optimism.


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