Anderson Cooper asked Stanford PhD student Kari Leibowitz a good question. Does having a positive mindset really do any good? He asked because he’s a journalist who has worked in war zones and experienced unimaginable personal losses. Anderson clearly knows you can’t wish away inconvenient truths.
What’s the Value of Having a Positive Mindset?
Therefore, Anderson Cooper probably was skeptical about whether a positive mindset can help us get through a pandemic, a difficult economy, fear, trauma, and more. So he posed the question to Kari Leibowitz: Does having happy thoughts have the power to change our reality? The answer he received was that, yes — surprisingly, it does.
It’s worth watching Kari Leibowitz’s “Full Circle” interview with Anderson Cooper. She talks about how a positive mindset isn’t about being mindlessly optimistic or pretending things are different from the way they are. It’s about adapting to circumstances, past and present, by using our power to choose.
Depression and Sadness Aren’t Inevitable
Kari tells the New York Times that it’s been so important, since the pandemic, to spend time outdoors. Cold weather and shutdown laws may keep many of us inside, and our isolation may lead to depression. Even during ordinary times, the short, dark days of winter can trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression, for many of us.
But, Kari believes, depression isn’t inevitable. We have the power to choose our response. Having a positive mindset can help.
She talks about how residents of Tromso, Norway experience a “Polar Night” between November and January. During those two months, they never see the sun. Yet the residents of Tromso have thrived. They’ve learned to adapt, and they suffer from less seasonal depression than you might expect.
Framing Our Situation Does Matter
How we frame our situation — whether it’s the trauma we faced at the hands of bullying in the classroom or other abusers — does make a difference. We can’t change the past, but we can learn to be happy despite our difficult pasts. We may not adore inclement weather, but we can still flourish when we have to be indoors. Even when there’s a pandemic.
We can put a positive spin on anything.
In the wintertime, we can see snow as a nuisance that will force us to shovel out our cars and driveways, and that may make it impossible for us to travel for awhile. Or we can see snow as an opportunity to slow down, appreciate nature’s beauty, and take a break from our everyday responsibilities.
We can see bullying we experienced in our childhood as a reason to hate ourselves and to doubt our self worth. Or we can view it as a reason to become better people, and to show others the kindness and compassion we wish we had received.
It’s our choice. Kari Leibowitz understands that. Hopefully, we learn from her.