"Optimism over uncontrollable negative events
is more useful than
optimism over controllable negative events."
Let that sink in for a moment before you read on.
Dr. Markman writes:
- The authors of the paper first review evidence on uncontrollable events, and suggest that there is good reason to think that having a positive attitude toward uncontrollable events in the past is a good thing. Classic research by Shelley Taylor, for example, suggests that a patient with breast cancer will adjust better and suffer fewer symptoms of depression by being optimistic rather than by being pessimistic about her disease ...
- People who thought positively about (controllable) severe negative events, though, actually showed an increase in symptoms of depression over time. The reason for this increase is that these negative events were controllable. By minimizing the importance of a (negative event), people opened themselves up to experience more of it in the future ... You cannot find ways to eliminate the negative in life if you always accentuate the positive.
Optimism over uncontrollable negative events is more useful than optimism over controllable negative events.