University of São Paulo: Optimism is a skill that can be developed at any age.

An intergenerational survey by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the Gallup Institute interviewed teenagers and young people aged 15 to 24 and adults over 40 from 21 countries. Among the results, they found that young people (50%) are the ones who most believe in the improvement of the world compared to older generations.

Who shares this optimism is the young journalism student Mauro Marinho, 20 years old. Regarding the future of society, Marinho says he believes in an improvement, “but not in a quick improvement”, since, for him, the changes will occur in the long term.

But for psychologist Martha Leticia Aguirre Quintero, a master in neuroscience and behavior at the Institute of Psychology at USP, optimism “is not a condition of age, because all people have the ability to develop a skill”, in addition to being a concept broad and involves several variables that influence people’s lives.

The researcher says that people have the ability to develop different skills and that, based on positive psychology, hope and optimism are seen as positive emotions about the future, and there is even evidence on how these aspects can develop. “In positive psychology, if you study the capabilities or strengths of human beings, hope is one of them.”

From this branch of psychology, Martha says that optimists “explain positive events as a permanent result of the use of their skills or strengths”, unlike pessimists, who “report the existence of transient causes linked to states of mind and effort” . That is why the teacher sees the need for the individual to develop skills of self-knowledge and self-efficacy to feel capable of accomplishment, increase motivation and hope for positive results when planning the future with a life that has meaning and purpose.

Access to information and generation gap
For the optimistic young Marinho, the differences in perspective between generations are influenced by access to information and he claims to perceive this change in comparison to his parents. “I believe that the search for information, knowledge, will be increasing for the next generations”, predicts the student, for whom access to information “is increasingly easier”, with people looking more and more for information, the which should be maintained over the generations.

A perspective also defended by Martha, who clearly sees the differences between generations due to the fact that “young people have access to many more things than older people”, which can influence a more global and optimistic view.

Practices for learning to be optimistic
According to the psychologist, “an optimistic person has a different cognitive style, a different way of interpreting life situations”. And he adds that, to develop the ability of optimism and generate positive thoughts, there are some techniques derived from cognitive therapy that can be incorporated into everyday life from simple practices.

One of these practices, teaches Martha, is to write down negative thoughts and, at the same time, “a positive thought that can counter these ideas”, because the tendency of pessimistic thinking is to anticipate the worst. He explains that “it is important to learn to identify these negative thoughts and to acquire the ability to debate them”, so that “we acquire awareness of this style of thinking” so that we can easily identify them when they arise and generate positive affirmations of them. situations.

Another best practice is proper management of emotions. “We can carry out practices to cultivate positive emotions, one of these practices can be gratitude and appreciation of beauty”, exemplifies Martha. These practices encourage new skills, she says, because “learning to identify good things that happened in our day can also help us change negative emotions and the way we look at situations and change our interpretations of situations” .

The teacher says that these practices help in learning new skills: identifying good things that happened throughout the day helps to change negative emotions and the way of looking at situations, modifying interpretations of the situations experienced. “Looking with self-compassion, seeing the good in our daily lives, living and enjoying the present moment”, he adds.

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