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Part 1 Mindset: Self Leadership Tip #3

Improve Your
Point of View

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Tip 3: Improve Your Point of View

Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other.
- Brian Tracy

For myself I am an optimist—it doesn't seem to be much use being anything else.
- Winston Churchill

A friend of mine was traveling from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Fort Smith Arkansas. When he entered the highway he asked the guy in the tollbooth, "How long is it to Fort Smith?" The toll-taker leaned back on his stool and in a deep Southern drawl, turned to my friend and said, "Well, it's ninety-one miles to Fort Smith. "How long it takes is up to you." No truer words were ever spoken. The path is clear. Life really can be that simple.

Many of us have seen the popular drawing that is displayed at many seminars depicting a confusing image of an old lady and a young lady. Depending on how you look at the picture, you see one or the other. Because that picture has been  shown so often it has lost its effect, but it clearly shows how easy it is to see the world in any way we choose. Talk Sharot in her book, The Optimism Bias, writes, "The optimism bias is a cognitive illusion. We are as blind to it as we are to visual illusions." If this is the case, it is much better to choose to be optimistic.

There is one set of beliefs that I consider fundamental to your success. Most of the ideas, beliefs, opinions, and conclusions you have about life are the result of all the experiences and inputs you've had since birth. These constitute your worldview or mindset. If you were a computer it would be your operating system. Your basic worldview literally controls your whole philosophy of life. The science of how we feel moment to moment is called hedonics. I refer to the people who study hedonics as happiologists. Most happiologists agree that optimism is the one trait that will not only determine the quality of life you have, but also will determine your longevity.

My favorite positive psychologist, Dr. Martin Seligman, wrote, "Optimistic people tend to interpret their troubles as transient, controllable, and specific to one situation. Pessimistic people, in contrast, believe that their troubles last forever, undermine everything they do, and are uncontrollable." In his book Authentic Happiness, Seligman discusses a Mayo Clinic study designed to determine if optimism predicts longevity. The Mayo Clinic's admission requirements include a battery of tests that include a test for the optimism trait. In their study, the Mayo Clinic followed 839 consecutive patients, who referred themselves for medical treatment in 1960. Of these 839 patients, 200 had died by the year 2000. The optimists in this group of 200 had 19% greater longevity, in terms of their expected life span, compared to pessimists.

Dentistry is a people business. It is interesting to note the effect other people have on us. Psychologist Chris Peterson once said, "Happiness is other people," and the philosopher Jean Paul Satre said, "Hell is other people." Either way, how we feel about other people can affect our lives and practices. That is why it is so important to work with and for people we genuinely like to be around. Have you ever looked at your schedule in advance and seen a patient on the schedule that you genuinely didn't want to work on, or a procedure that you didn't like doing? This leads to what the psychologists call toxic inauthenticity, and it can lead to serious health issues such as high blood pressure and issues with longevity.

Staying positive and creating positive relations are two key components of PERMA. Flourishing dentists spend the majority of time working with people they like and only doing the dentistry they enjoy doing. Marcus Buckingham, author of The One Thing, claims that the "one thing" successful people do is eliminate the work they don't like to do. There is no way to truly predict the future but one thing about creating a future of happiness and success is to try to control our days by staying positive and being optimistic. Creating an environment that is conducive to positivity and optimism is crucial for the journey. One definition of optimism is a positive belief in what is yet to come. This requires some degree of control. This book will show you how flourishing dentists set themselves up to succeed.

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