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A big payoff in taking the optimistic view

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If you're an optimist, you believe that any defeat is a temporary setback or a challenge. It doesn't knock you down.

Using this theme in your life helps you move forward in your work. And a positive view helps to prevent illness, improves relationships, and increases self esteem. A study reported in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows the optimists live longer, are healthier, and more peaceful and calm.

When you find yourself stuck in pessimism, psychiatrists at Columbia University say there are things you can do to revive your optimistic ways. Developing certain skills can change your view of the world.

* Practice seeing yourself as being better off than someone else. You are better off than many people you see every day.

* Know that everything is not your fault. Pessimists think they cause bad events that will undermine everything, says Dr. Martin Seligman in his book Learned Optimism, How to Change Your Mind (Free Press).

* When things go wrong, realize that the situation will only affect you for a limited time. If you failed, understand that outside factors were partly responsible.

* Decide to be positive even if you don't feel like it. If you smile, your brain assumes you feel good. Act happy, and you will begin to feel better.

* Be positive with others, and they will reinforce your optimistic attitude. Be upbeat and show interest in them.

* Carry cards with positive statements on them about your life and your future.

If you feel depressed for some time and have negative feelings you can't overcome, see your doctor. There are many good treatments for depression.

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