How to Be a Happier, More Optimistic Rec Professional


Running a rec center is hard. After dealing with difficult students, equipment problems or who knows what else for the umpteenth time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You might even question if you’re really making a difference or not.

Optimism is easy to lose and hard to recover. But if you can rediscover positivity and use it to fuel your day, it’ll make a huge difference in your rec center.

In Chapter Six of “Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness and World Peace,” Chade-Meng Tan explores the subject of self-motivation and how to reteach optimism to yourself.

He references Barbara Fredrickson, an expert in positive psychology, who found humans need to experience three positive events to overcome one negative event. Basically, negative experiences are three times stronger than positive experiences.

When you remember a human’s basic tendency is feeling stronger emotions after negative events, it’s easy to understand why optimism can seem so fleeting at times.

Fortunately, according to Tan, optimism can be learned and pessimism can be unlearned, and he shares three steps for doing so:

  1. Become aware of your own strong negative experiential bias. Changing your understanding of your failures will change how you see yourself.
  2. Mindfulness is the best way to create objectivity in your experiences — learning optimism requires you to do so.
  3. Allow for transformation. When you experience success, make a conscious note of it and take credit for it. Likewise, when you fail, concentrate on realistic evidence that the setback is probably temporary.

Optimism doesn’t mean being naïve and looking at everything through a rose-tinted lens — this is a common misconception. True optimism is acknowledging the crappy things that happen around and to you, but still focusing on the positive aspects of your life and drawing energy from them.

And when you take a moment to consider all the positive events occurring every day around you, you’ll find you have quite a few to choose from.

Tan even goes as far as to say it’s likely “that we have much more success than failure in our lives, yet it does not seem that way because we pay too much attention to our failures and too little attention to our successes.”

So stop focusing on your failures. Draw inspiration and motivation from your successes and your club’s successes. And remember as a rec professional, you are making a difference in the lives of many people.

Bobby is a former staff writer at Peake Media.

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