Monday, February 4, 2008

An optimistic view of stress

There have been many studies on the differences between optimists and pessimists.

Overall, optimists attribute permanence, pervasive, and personal (the 3 Ps) to positive aspects of themselves and good things that happen, and only temporary status to negative ones.

"I do well on tests because I'm smart."
"I got that question wrong because it was hard."

Pessimists do the opposite - attributing the 3 Ps to negative aspects of themselves and bad things that happen and only temporary status to positive ones.

"I did well on that test because it was easy."
"I get questions wrong because I'm stupid."

Let's apply this to stress:
How much ownership do you take? How do you relate to your stress?

Consider the statements:
"Taking that test triggered a button within me."
"I get stressed when taking tests."

With the 1st statement, we've limited the scope of the effect of the test to an isolated incident.
With the 2nd statement, we've applied a universal statement to test-taking.

Which format are you using to describe the incidences in your life?


S Bennett said...

I imagine that it would depend on how well I did on the test, wouldn't it? At least, in the way it relates to stress.

Zohar said...

The closer you do on the test to your ideal, the less potential for stress there will be. But how you view that difference is up to you. As is your overall perspective on test-taking.

1) "Taking that test triggered a button within me" looks at a single past experience.

2) "I get stressed when taking tests" makes a blanket statement on one's process of test-taking.

Regardless of how well you did on the test, you're always better off looking back on the experience with mindset #1.