Optimism boosters

  • Artnr: Optimism booster

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The right question at the right time can open us up to fresh ways of seeing a situation. A question can stop our tired and negative thought patterns in their tracks. Suddenly, we see possibilities that we simply did not think of before. Yes, questions can boost our levels of optimism.

Optimism boosters

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The right question can change our brain chemistry by increasing possibility, control and motivation. 

Attention Psychologists, Social Workers, Counsellors and Educators. Each of the 30 cards in this elegant little set creates a window into change, new possibilities and fresh ways of thinking. Key questions focus on goals, possibilities or strategies. Published by Innovative Resources 2004. Author: Selina Byrne, Designer: Tim Lane 30 laminated, full-colour cards, 105 x 65mm, clear polypropylene box folds back to create a stand, 32-page booklet. For further information, card examples and articles on this resource please click the more info arrow below.

The power of questions

Sometimes the right question might be a surprising one, such as ‘What story am I telling myself about this?’ Or it might be a quirky one such as ‘What are the humorous aspects of this situation?’ Or it might be a challenging one such as ‘What is my part in creating this situation?’

Practising psychologist Selina Byrne has drawn on the power of questions to create Optimism Boosters. Each of the 30 cards in this elegant, full-colour set creates a window into change by asking a key question. There are three suits – goals, possibilities and strategies – and ten question cards in each suit. The set comes with a booklet.

Place Optimism Boosters on your desk and dip into the cards when you need a quantum boost into a different way of thinking. Use them when you are chatting with friends about decisions and choices, or use them more formally in your work with clients.

What is optimism?

Optimism involves generating:

HOPE that things can change ACTION to make sure they do change.

Most people assume that optimism is the same as positive thinking. Positive thinking is when you reassure yourself that a positive outcome will occur, or you try to visualise the positive outcome in the hope that this will increase the chances of it occurring. The optimism approach is a bit different because it focuses on how you can face your situation and choose the best strategy for adapting to that situation. Optimism requires you to focus on your desired state (how you want things to be) while you check the story you are telling yourself about the situation.

For example, many people feel unhappy with their health or fitness. A positive thinking approach might involve affirming to yourself that you are becoming healthier every day. While this might be momentarily uplifting, it may not trigger follow-through action. Using the optimism approach, we would firstly clarify where the person wanted to be in terms of their health or fitness. We might then help them to identify a specific, ‘small chunk’ goal in relation to their health. We might listen to the story they are telling themselves (‘I don’t have time to do exercise’ or ‘It’s too late to start at my age’ or ‘I hate doing exercise’) and ask a question that allows them to consider other possibilities (‘Where is the evidence for that?’ or ‘What would an on-looker say about this?’) We would then ask another question that might help to generate strategies the person could use to improve their fitness/health. For example, ‘What have you done in the past that might help?’ or ‘What do others in your situation do?’

Ideas for using the cards

There are many different ways to use Optimism Boosters to provide new perspectives on your situation. You might choose to use the cards to stimulate thinking; you might use them to prompt journal entries; and you can use them to trigger conversations with friends or in counselling.

Psychologists, counsellors, social workers, teachers and other human service professionals can use the cards to trigger questions that promote optimism. Clients or students can also be encouraged to choose a card to start or end a conversation. The pack can also be used when clients or students get stuck, helping to provide a new direction for the conversation. Groups may wish to use the cards to create conversations about their goals and to develop strategies for reaching these goals.