How to Apply Learned Optimism: A Sample Disputation Record

In a previous post, I reviewed the “Learned Optimism” book by Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology. I explained what learned optimism is, and I recommend you go to the review to familiarize yourself with the concept and what’s involved in applying it.

==> Click here to read my review of the “Learned Optimism” book. <==

This post is about how to apply learned optimism, and to help with that, here is a sample Disputation Record:

Disputation Record #1 (of 5)

Adversity: I’m trying to book flights for returning to Canada. I’m used to things like this being simple and working on the first try. I picked out which company to go with. It’s been showing one price consistently, and then when I select a payment method, the price changes to a larger amount. Also, it’s still showing the original, lower price, too. What the glitch?

Belief: I don’t know what to trust here. Two prices are showing. Which one will I be charged? I don’t think I should go any further with this company.

Consequences: I don’t go any further. The glitch cost that company a possible sale.

Disputation: That’s the right move to make. There are other options to look at.

Energization: The search continues. On to the next one…

Disputation Record #2 (of 5)

Adversity: I’m trying again to book flights for returning to Canada. I picked another company to go with. I make it further this time. I submitted the payment information, and the payment was processing. Then, a security requirement came up. I’m supposed to get a text message on my Canadian phone number and then put in the code that I receive in the text message. My Canadian phone number is disconnected while I’m out of Canada, so I won’t be able to get the text.

Belief: I don’t think this option will work out either.

Consequences: I click Exit. The Verified by Visa requirement shows up again. I check to see if I can add my Portuguese phone number to my Visa. I can’t. I click Exit again on Verified by Visa. Nothing has changed since the last time it showed up. I still don’t have my Canadian phone number currently connected.

Disputation: I’ve got to keep going. I’ll have to call my credit card company to see if they can remove the Verified by Visa requirement.

Energization: It helps that I know what to do next.

Disputation Record #3 (of 5)

Adversity: I called my credit card company. They removed the Verified by Visa requirement for 24 hours. I made it all the way through this time. I reserve the flights for returning to Canada. A little while later, I received an e-mail telling me the reservation was canceled and that I’d receive a full refund within 3 – 5 business days.

Belief: What’s going on? Why is it this difficult to book flights? Alright, so a technical error resulted in the reservation being canceled. And now I know not to try this company again.

Consequences: I’m narrowing down the options for which company to book flights through.

Disputation: I still have other companies to try. Keep going.

Energization: The next one has to work. I do feel energized.

Disputation Record #4 (of 5)

Adversity: Another company. It’s an online travel agency, just like the other ones have been. I make it all the way through. I reserve the flights for returning to Canada. And again, a little while later, I received an e-mail telling me that the reservation was canceled because of a technical error and that I’ll receive a full refund within 3 – 5 business days.

Belief: I know what to do next. This is sure frustrating. I haven’t had to go through this much trouble before to book flights. The process used to be so smooth. I will keep on being patient. At least as much as I can be. I know I’m capable of that.

Consequences: I’m done trying to book flights back to Canada through online travel agencies. Both reservation cancellation e-mails have told me to book directly with the airlines, so I will do that. Why wasn’t I already doing that?

Disputation: I have gone through all the online travel agencies I had in mind. None of them worked out. Now I know to only book directly with the airlines. That’s what I used to do, and it always worked before. So, I know it will work this time, too.

Energization: I’m excited. I know I’m getting closer to having my desired result. I’m going to the airport this time. Maybe I can get the flights booked directly at an airline desk.

Disputation Record #5 (of 5)

Adversity: I went to the airport. I called my credit card company to ensure my previous attempts to book flights hadn’t messed anything up. They haven’t. I can try at least one more time. Next, I tried to book flights directly with an airline on their website. I tried multiple payment options. One of them didn’t load. The other one didn’t go through. Technical error again. Even directly on an airline website.

Belief: Ha ha ha ha ha! I have to laugh, at least on the inside. This is ridiculous. It seems like I’m not supposed to return to Canada yet. Is this a sign that I’m supposed to apply for a resident card to stay in Portugal? If this next effort doesn’t work, then yes, I’m supposed to stay in Portugal.

Consequences: I’m done trying to book flights online this time. My failed options so far are simply leading me to where to go next. I’m ready to go to an airline desk.

Disputation: I have to go in person to book flights. Technology does have its limits. Either I will have a successful flight reservation in a few minutes, or I’ll know I’m being given a clear indicator that it isn’t in the cards for me to return to Canada yet.

Energization: This is it, down to the last option. This option will work. I know it will.


What happened next?

I went to an airline desk at the Porto, Portugal airport, and my efforts paid off. I was finally successful in getting flights booked. No cancellation either. I get to return to Canada later this month. I’ve been away for almost three months. Being back will take some getting used to.

I’m sure you’re facing some challenges that require perseverance to work through. Learned optimism is a tool you can use to help you keep going. If you keep your own Disputation Record, that can help you build up your perseverance to deal with your challenges.

Tell me about what struggles you’ve overcome. How has learned optimism helped you be stronger? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Until next time,

James Barnett

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2 thoughts on “How to Apply Learned Optimism: A Sample Disputation Record”

  1. Hello James,

    I enjoy being optimistic. There is room for improvement to remove pessimistic thinking and beliefs from my life. Thank you for the heads up and focus on this area to improve our lives and add more sparkle and joy.

    Thank you for passing on your knowledge and experience.

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