A blogger once took me to task – quite publicly – for naming our applications “Optimism”. According to him, they should be called “Hope”. Without a doubt.
I’ve always been puzzled by this. “Optimism” has an element of confidence, with an expectation of progress. Hope is more wishful* . You could say that hope is a precursor to optimism.
With applications unashamedly named “Optimism”, naturally enough I’m very interested in the role of optimism in improving mental health.
In the Huffington Post Dr. Tian Dayton recently wrote about how optimism can be learned, drawing on the well known work of Martin Seligman. Seligman’s work has been foundational in understanding helplessness as a learned psychological condition, and “learned optimism” as its remedy.
From the article:
“Optimists, according to research tend to be healthier, are more active, eat more fruits and vegetables and spend more time actively with others. So who wouldn’t want to be one? The question is, can optimism be learned, and if so, wouldn’t that be a great New Year’s resolution…”
* except Christian hope, which in the Bible means confident expectation – the return of Christ, transformation and eternal life.