In 1985 Dr Martin Seligman was studying insurance salespeople in the Met Life company. He found those people who scored above average for optimism sold 37% more insurance. Optimism is a really crucial driver of our success, because in life and work – we get knocked back a lot.
Sometimes bad things happen. What really benefits us is not taking those knock-backs too seriously. If we’re overly focused on a problem or stress we don’t help ourselves and move forward… we just feel crappy. If we can just say ‘okay that happened, what’s next’, and not overly worry about the things that are in the past or we can’t control – we perform better and feel happier.
This works because of one simple, psychological truth – What you focus on you get.
Ever just come out of a long relationship and all of a sudden every song on the radio is about love? Our brain does not see the rational truth of what is happening around us. It processes the world based on where we put our attention – and we don’t even realise its happening.
There is a part of the brain called the reticular activating cortex that filters all the stuff that comes in through our senses. Only 0.001% of all the things our subconscious mind is aware of get alerted to our conscious mind.
What this tells us is how crucially important it is to learn to tame our mind. To have the skill of choosing what we focus on. That’s what drives the way we see the world and how we experience life.