EMPATHY WITH AN EDGE Not your granny’s advice column ... Keep on truckin’
by Lauretta Hannon
December 30, 2013 10:57 PM | 2721 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Q: My dad owns a 1999 Toyota Tacoma truck with over 600,000 miles on it. Although

it has gone through several major repairs, he insists on keeping it and driving it everywhere

instead of buying a new vehicle. The Friday before Thanksgiving, the truck had to be

towed home because the fuel pump needed to be replaced. Then, the following week he got

the fuel pump replaced and planned a trip to Baton Rouge — in the truck! Luckily he

agreed (at my request) to take my vehicle instead. My dad is an intelligent guy, and I don’t

know why he keeps putting himself at risk this way. My mom and I are at a loss. What

should we do?

A: Some things in this world should be left alone: Pops and his good ol’ truck

are two of them. He’s a grown man; let him enjoy his vehicle until he decides it’s time to replace it.

He’s shown that he’s sensible — after all, he conceded and took your car to Baton Rouge.

He’s not reckless; he’s a fellow who loves his truck. That’s as American as apple pie at the

diner and should be respected.

Q: What is one piece of advice you can give us for the New Year?

A: Work to become more optimistic. Check out Dr. Martin Seligman’s books and

research on the topic of authentic happiness and optimism. He is the founder of positive

psychology, a branch of psychology that focuses on the empirical study of such things

as positive emotions, strengths-based character and healthy institutions.

This excerpt from Seligman’s “Learned Optimism” will give you a starting point.

The optimists and the pessimists: I have been studying them for the past twenty-fi ve

years. The defi ning characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last

a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are

confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite

way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confi ned

to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad luck, or

other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad

situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder. I have seen that, in tests of hundreds of

thousands of people, a surprisingly large number will be found to be deep-dyed

pessimists and another large portion will have serious, debilitating tendencies towards pessimism. I have learned that it is not always easy to know if you are a pessimist, and that far more people than realize it are living in this shadow.

A pessimistic attitude may seem so deeply rooted as to be permanent. I have found, however, that pessimism is escapable. Pessimists can in fact learn to be optimists, and not through mindless devices like whistling a happy tune or mouthing platitudes … but by learning a new set of cognitive skills. Far from being the creations of boosters or of the popular media, these skills were discovered in the laboratories and clinics of leading psychologists and psychiatrists and then rigorously validated. Learn more at Seligman’s website: www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu. And by all means, make it a Happy New Year!

Send your questions to notyourgrannysadvice@gmail.com. Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of The Cracker Queen—A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more atthecrackerqueen.com.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 31, 2013
As usual, great advice from Lauretta. "Pessimism is escapable." That's something to remember going into a new year.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides