Bucky Dent is famous for batting a three-run homer that allowed the Yankees to defeat the Red Sox in the 1978 World Series playoffs. The Yankees went on that year to defeat the Dodgers, and Bucky earned the World Series MVP title. Bucky once said that control and optimism were critical to his success that year and still are today in everything he does. Bucky also said that while sports psychology was relatively unheard of in the 1970s, every professional team today has a sports psychologist on staff for the purpose of keeping the players psyched regardless of their performance.

Bucky will speak at Contagious Optimism LIVE!, a daylong event with inspirational talks, music, and entertainment. Contagious Optimism LIVE! is taking place at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society on the Jupiter campus on Friday, April 4, 2014, from 2 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $50, which includes a reception following the event. Group discounts are also available. All attendees will receive a free copy of the bestselling book, “Contagious Optimism.”

Get more information by visiting www.contagiousoptimismlive.com, and follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.

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Dr. Joachim De Posada speaks both English and Spanish and has a Ph.D in psychology. He has enlightened and entertained audiences in more than 60 nations. He was declared the Most Distinguished Hispanic Speaker by the Latino Speakers Bureau and has been recognized as one of America’s 25 Hot Speakers by the National Speakers Association in 2009. He is also the author of “Don’t Eat the Marshmallow Yet!”

Dr. Joachim De Posada will speak at Contagious Optimism LIVE!, a daylong event with inspirational talks, music, and entertainment. Contagious Optimism LIVE! is taking place at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society on the Jupiter campus on Friday, April 4, 2014, from 2 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $50, which includes a reception following the event. Group discounts are also available. All attendees will receive a free copy of the  bestselling book, “Contagious Optimism.”

Get more information by visiting http://www.contagiousoptimismlive.com, and follow the event on Facebook and Twitter.

Scars: signs of strength

August 21, 2013

Krystian Leonard (right)

Krystian Leonard (right)

Meet Krystian Leonard.

This rising high school junior says that scars “hold a meaning of strength and character, showing I have accepted who I am and prove I can rise above the stigma.”

Krystian was born with lipomas on her face and body and over the course of her young life, she endured surgeries and resulting scars in order to get them removed. However, Krystian realized that she was a beautiful girl and was not going to let this hold her back. By her mid-teenage years, Krystian has been Miss Morgantown’s Outstanding Teen, Miss Southern West Virginia’s Outstanding Teen and Miss Northern West Virginia’s Outstanding Teen. She also launched a nonprofit organization called Shining S.C.A.R.S,  an organization dedicated to helping young people persevere through any obstacle.

Meet Alan Malizia

August 20, 2013

Alan MaliziaMeet Alan Malizia
Alan suffered from polio as a child, endured painful treatments and lived in and out of hospitals most of his life. Instead of complaining, Alan channeled his energy into sports and education, which he taught to students in the Stamford, Conn. area. However, for Alan, teaching sports and education wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to do more. In addition to being a terrific teacher, Alan earned the number 1 ranking in the state and region for volleyball, basketball and other sports at Stamford Catholic High School.  He also published a book titled “The Little Red Chair,” an inspirational story about growing up with polio and the gratitude he has for all the people in his life – from the doctors who treated him to all his family, friends, and students who have always stood by his side.

Read one of Alan’s essays here: Humility and Humiliation

Remarkable Recovery

August 19, 2013

Meet Joan Heller
Mom sculpture garden 111006
and her son Joel
Joel
Joel came home to visit his family during his sophomore year in college. Unfortunately he came home to some bad news that his mother had throat and mouth cancer, and would be losing part of her tongue along with her speech in order to fight the disease. However, Joel’s mother made him a promise.  She said that by his college graduation, she would be able to say “Congratulations!”
With that determination, Mrs. Heller decided that her only way to regain her speech would be to re-learn how to pronounce words – just like children would learn in their early stages. At this point, she obtained a variety of children’s books and tapes. She studied, studied, and studied, along with recording herself throughout the process. By May of 1990, Mrs. Heller regained her speech and said “Congratulations” at her son’s graduation. She was also able to return to work as a psychiatric social worker – an occupation that not only helps others but also relies on the ability to speak.

Optimism: your choice

July 15, 2013

This post is inspired by Tony Schwartz’s article “Overcoming Your Negativity Bias,” which was published in The New York Times earlier this month.

Notice the headline of Tony Schwartz’ article.

The writer uses the possessive determiner “your” to denote that negativity bias is an individual’s plague. In the headline alone, Schwartz tells readers that the power to overcome negativity bias lies in the self.

Negativity bias makes us notice negativity more than positivity.  We tend to believe in the worst of things, causing our negative thoughts to confine us and prevent us from being productive. As a college student, my negative thoughts are trivial, but relatively relatable: Yeah, I need to study for my test tomorrow, but gosh, I did really bad last time, and it’s probably going to happen again, so why do I bother, maybe I should start doing my laundry, but what if the machines are full and then I’ll have to wait for everyone to finish and – has it already been two hours? This familiar stream of consciousness is simply frustrating!

I’ve realized that I tend to use negativity bias as a defense mechanism. It sounds logical at first: I want to be rational about circumstances, so I use my thoughts as motivators. I prepare myself by thinking of the worst, possible situations, therefore I believe can face anything. Well, I’ve been wrong a lot of times, because that “worst, possible situation,” or what was once hypothetical, becomes real to me. I take the “if” out of the equation.

In his piece, Schwartz interestingly noted that negativity bias is hard to overcome because many people don’t notice that they have negativity bias. “The problem is that we grow up in a world that doesn’t value the training of attention or the capacity to cultivate specific emotions,” Schwartz wrote. I interpret this sentence to say that we are no longer taught to be introspective. The ability to focus on ourselves is disrupted by the external activities that hold pseudo-significance. Emotions have been ranked below rationality. Sometimes we are too busy worrying about what other people think (want, say, etc.) that we forget about ourselves. The expectation of others is tyranny over our introspection; therefore we lose control over our own thoughts.

It is time to become introspective once more.

In his piece, Schwartz advised us to focus more on positivity. Oftentimes, physically removing yourself from a moment of negativity can be a great solution. Whenever I feel stressed, I decide to go for a walk or relax in a local coffee shop—anything to divert my thoughts. When I sit back down I feel significantly relaxed and I am no longer burdened by my thoughts.

In fact, reading this post—or reading “Contagious Optimism”—is another way to overcome negativity bias. By allowing yourself to listen and accept other people’s stories of struggles and success, you expose yourself to more positive thoughts. It is my belief that if you hold onto optimism, you’ll get results.

How will you deal with your negativity bias?

069“Contagious Optimism” co-author Alan Malizia has self-published  two books through authorhouse.com: “The Little Red Chair,” which details his life experience with polio, and “A View From The Quiet Corner,” a collection of poems and reflections. Malizia graduated from Stamford Catholic High School in 1967 and received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Sacred Heard University in 1971 and a master’s degree in education from Bridgeport University in 1992. From 1975 until his retirement in 2003, Malizia taught and coached for secondary schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport.
While at Stamford Catholic High School he also coached the girls volleyball teams to three consecutive state championships from 1983 to 1985, an undefeated season in 1985, and a fourth title in 1988. Malizia was named Connecticut High School Coach of the Year in 1988 and was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2007.

During my fourth season as a high school girls volleyball coach, our team had compiled an impressive 10-0 record before meeting one of our main rivals in the county. Although we were the visiting team our confidence was not diminished. Despite a fine effort, as is customary with our play, we took it on the chin. The final match results verified the home team as winner. We did not win even one game of the match. The girls were down, frustrated and humiliated by the outcome. The loss was a hard pill to swallow since we had entered the match undefeated.

We left the gym, and the girls ran out to the bus through heavy rain. I had driven to the match and needed to get my car. I moved along under the building overhang to avoid getting wet. I must reveal here that I was not able to walk under my own power. I was aided by leg braces and crutches as a result of having been stricken with polio at age four. My detour seemed a good idea until I hit a slick spot and down I went into a rain-soaked bush on a muddy terrain. A few girls ran over to assist and found my two feet jutting out from beneath the bush. Of course, being thoroughly wet and coated in mud would understandably add to the humiliation of the day’s events.

The next day at practice, before getting on with the business of evaluating the loss and how to adjust for the season ahead, I brought up the incident of my fall. The girls responded with laughter. They knew me too well to think that I would deal with that incident in any other way. And I expected as much from them. We ended the season with a 21-2 record and garnered a state championship.

We have all experienced humiliation. It is quite common. How each of us reacts to such an event is as unique as the individual who falls victim to it. Knowing that no one is immune to humiliation should encourage you not to escalate the effect of humiliation. Our outlook regarding it will determine whether we move forward with a productive fulfilling life or one of unsatisfying stagnation. If we allow them to, humiliating moments will become roadblocks rather than bumps along the way. If we become afraid to make mistakes, because of our concern for others’ opinions of us, then we are responsible for the frustrations and unhappiness we will face. We have no control over how others will respond to potentially humiliating events. However, we do have control over our response. You can sit safely on the sideline of life or get on the court. Whatever court on which your God-given gifts place you, the risk of humiliation is heightened. Yet it is a risk worth taking when the alternative is a life of inhibited purpose.

I was able to make nothing of my fall on that rainy afternoon, largely because of my doctor’s and parents’ influence in my life. After contracting polio and the recovery thereafter, part of which required a nine-month stay in a convalescent hospital, my doctor had told my parents the temptation to spoil me would be great. However, for my sake they let life be hard, as it often is. Even more so for one with a challenging disability. The severity of the trials I faced would be tempered by the love, understanding and support of those around me.

Humiliation has a negative connotation: it reduces someone or something to a lower position. Humility, on the other hand, affirms a positive, for one who possesses it is found to be down-to-earth in nature.   And one cannot be reduced to a lower position if one is already there. When we permit the unwanted mistakes of our lives to hold a prominent place, we stifle the opportunities through avoidance. Also, by behaving in such a manner, we lend credibility to those who will seize that moment when we seem most vulnerable and to shame and humiliate us. People who would instigate humiliation or be a party to such have problems of their own. Their actions imply an insecurity that is rooted in some fear. They should not be rebuffed without being pitied and prayed for.

Humiliation then can be overcome by humility.  Anyone who easily succumbs to the effects of humiliation or enjoys the humiliation of another possesses an ego in excess. It is difficult to forgive yourself or draw therapeutic humor from a humiliating moment when you are governed by an ego that frowns on mistakes. If you dispense little or no understanding to yourself, others will likely not receive it either.

From my experience with polio, I have learned an important lesson. Although the task may be hard, through humility, defeat need not win. Humility provides a foundation from which a “positive forward thinking” attitude can grow — an attitude that beckons us to keep trying in the face of adversity, no matter its form.

Did you enjoy Alan’s essay? For more reads from co-authors of “Contagious Optimism, check out the following posts: