Is it a choice to be optimistic?

Optimism is about more than just parading around happily all the time. It’s a worldview that has direct and powerful connections to your social group, your productivity, and your very own health!

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Optimism is about more than just parading around happily all the time. It’s a worldview that has direct and powerful connections to your social group, your productivity, and your very own health! This week on the show, we’re talking all about optimism. You’ll understand the kind of language you might be using that becomes the pessimism trap, you’ll learn about recent research connecting your worldview to your cardiovascular health, and you’ll discover how you can incorporate a daily optimism practice into your routine with ease!

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Episode Transcript

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Pete: Hello everybody and welcome to “Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast” on RashPixel.FM. I’m Pete Wright and right over there is Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki: Hello, Pete Wright. How are you?

Pete: How are you?

Nikki: You feeling good on this day? Are you optimistic?

Pete: Got the song in my head, Nikki, and right now I’m not optimistic that I’m ever gonna get it out of my head, and I don’t know what it is, and the community is failing me every turn.

Nikki: They’re not. They’re saying things like you might be off your meds. We talked about you looking like a bobblehead.

Pete: Well, there’s a very real chance.

Nikki: What is going on with you, Pete?

Pete: Well, I shaved my beard and that’s throwing people. It’s been a weekend, my son turned 13. I no longer have pre-teens.

Nikki: Yeah. You’re a house full of teenagers. God bless you.

Pete: Yeah. It’s good stuff. Now he’s 13 and he’s ready to learn to drive.

Nikki: Right. Because that’s what they do at 13.

Pete: Yeah. Yeah. Got teen in my name, I’m ready to go. Teen in the age. We are talking about optimism today and the choice to be optimistic. Is it a choice to be optimistic? We’re gonna talk about that. Before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com, get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list and we’ll send you an email with the latest episode each week as it is released. You can connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at @takecontroladhd. And if this show has ever touched you or helped you make a change in your life for the better, we encourage you to check out our Patrion account. You can support us by throwing just throwing dollars at us through Patrion, patrion.com/theadhdpodcast. There are some fantastic people who have already decided that they want to help us, help us do more with this show.

More like this workshop. There’s a workshop that we just did last week on getting started on avoided projects. And if you were a patron right now, you would have access to that in our complete library of other workshops that Nikki has done, that Nikki and I have done over the past since we started this thing six months ago. And that library just continues to grow. You would have early access to the podcast. We record the podcast, you could join for a live stream of that recording before that episode goes public the following week. So there’s a little bit a…you get a little bit of an early access perk. That’s always fun. So there’s a lot of great stuff that you can take part of when you jump in and become a patron of the ADHD podcast.

Mostly it just helps Nikki and I to continue to grow and do this show and do it in a way that supports this community. So, you know, we’ve been doing this for 10 years. This is the big ask. Give us a shot to continue to grow in and do more great stuff with the ADHD community. Thank you so much in advance for your consideration. Nikki Kinzer, where did this come from right now? Was there something specifically that inspired you because…?

Nikki: I knew you were gonna ask me that question because you always do, and no, it really didn’t…

Pete: Well, it’s such a nice bounce off of the resilience conversation we had last week. It feels like it’s a wonderful sort of bookend.

Nikki: It is. And I think that, you know, the podcast that we had before that was having a growth mindset and it just really felt like it all sort of worked together. And optimism is something that I think about daily.

Pete: Well, you should because it takes practice.

Nikki: Yes. It does. It does. And you had asked the question, is it a choice to be optimistic? I believe it is. And the research says it is, which in itself is very optimistic and that I’m very grateful for.

Pete: Because the research says it is, it sure makes it easier to believe that it is. Let’s just put it that way.

Nikki: Right. It’s a very optimistic way of looking at life. But I’m grateful for that because what if the research said no, it’s not a choice, you either have it or you don’t. I mean that’s like really hopeless. That would just not be nice. So I’m glad that the research says that. I live with anxiety, not a secret. So I almost always immediately go to worst case scenario in many circumstances. And so optimism is not going to naturally be my first thought. So, you know, if you were to ask the question, are you naturally optimistic? I would say no. But is it a choice to be? Yes. Because I can reframe what I’m thinking. I can sit back and think about it. Not all the time. I mean it takes time, I should say. It takes a lot of time, I mean, to kind of step back away from certain things, right? But, you know, I do think I don’t like going to the worst case scenario, so if there is a different option, I certainly wanna do that.

Pete: Well. and it’s funny, I mean, you mentioned the anxiety and as someone who struggles with anxiety myself too, I feel like that’s kind of part and parcel to the saddle you’re wearing, right, is that, you know, you’re pre-wired and pre-programmed to think about the most negative stuff. And what I don’t like to hear is when people stop there, and I hear that a lot from folks who write us…you know, I talk about the “What’s that smell?’ anxiety podcast, you know, that is a show dedicated to exactly this kind of stuff, anxiety. Like how can you figure out a way to approach anxiety optimistically? And it’s one of the things that I’m always…I’m surprised and a bit disheartened by the number of people who stop after saying, ”I’m just wired that way. I’m an anxious person. I’m just wired that way." As if that’s the end of the discussion, right? As if that’s the end of your position. You’re always going to be an anxious and a person, you know, who goes to that lowest of the low point. And that there’s nothing you can do about it because, again, research says otherwise.

Nikki: Absolutely. So I had the opportunity this weekend to watch Brene Brown on Netflix. She has a documentary, or not really a documentary because that’s not what it is, but it’s a one hour, hour-and-a-half her speaking, you know, as a presenter. And she talked about this, about how it’s really hard for people to find joy because we’re always afraid that it’s gonna be taken away from us. So here we are in this like moment of what should be pure joy, but yet we’re thinking worst-case scenario. And so she had the example of her daughter going to prom and, you know, saying goodbye to her and her date and she’s waving, and Brene Brown has a really great sense of humor.

So she does this really witty, you know, like, “Okay, you know, I’m thinking about how wonderful this moment is, but I also have to think about how grateful I am because that’s the only way I’m gonna get out of this.” So she’s just like, “I’m really grateful to see you off. You know, this is great. I’m really grateful.” So she keeps talking about how grateful she is. And her son looks at his dad and he says, “So what’s wrong with Mom?”

Pete: Is she having a stroke?

Nikki: And the dad’s like, “Just let it be. She just needs to be grateful. Just let her go.” Because that was the only way that she could, like, “Okay, I’m grateful I’m gonna.” Because, you know, worst-case scenario, you think that’s the last time you’re gonna see your daughter. She’s gonna get in a car accident. Something terrible’s gonna happen. I mean, you know, those things come to mind and so you can’t fight them. And I love how you said, “What is next then?” It’s like, let’s not have that be the end of the story. So gratitude is definitely…I didn’t add that into our notes, but I think it’s really important that we talk about that too. Gratitude is a big piece of that is how we appreciate what we have, what’s around us, who’s with us, the moments we have, the memories we’re creating. Gratefulness, gratitude is a big part of that, of being optimistic is appreciating those things.

I’m really lucky because I live with two of the most optimistic people in the world, and that’s my husband and my daughter. There are two peas in a pod. They’re almost exactly alike. They have the same sense of humor, the same attitude. And let me be very clear. Being optimistic doesn’t mean that you don’t have bad days or that you don’t have bad things happen to you because they do. They do have terrible things that have happened, especially my husband and his health, you know, has been a huge ordeal for this. But what I do know for sure is that the majority of the time I see my husband and my daughter, they’re happy. They’re in good moods. They see good in other people. They see good in themselves. They’re confident in themselves. They see the silver lining in opportunities and things. And then they spread the joy around them. So my son and I, who are like two peas in a pod, that can rub off on us too, right? Because then their positivity will rub off on us who both live with anxiety. So it’s I feel very grateful because if I didn’t have that in my life, I think that I probably would have to work even harder to be optimistic. So yeah. What’s your story?

Pete: Well, it’s not so much a story. It’s that you got me with this topic, you got me looking at, at sort of what that research is all about. And, again, it started off of an email submission to the, “What’s that Smell?” podcast, which is around catastrophic thinking, right? And so I wanted to talk just a little bit about that because it turns out that catastrophizing or catastrophic thinking is one of the four major sort of categories of negative thinking, right? That goes into optimism, right? It’s a stuff that drags you down. And I think that these are the four behaviors that can become habituated, you know, when we lose track of what it means to be an optimistic person.

And so the Mayo Clinic has published a number of resources on their website around this. This comes from a survey of research. One of them that I thought was most interesting given the heart issues that are going on in my own family is the study that connects optimism to overall cardiovascular health. And I wanna talk about that in a little bit because it’s fantastic. But in the case of these four major sort of areas that you could be falling into the trap of negative thinking, I just wanna just set the table here.

Number one is filtering, right? Filtering means you are magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and you filter out the positive aspects, right? So you have a day at work where you accomplish many tasks and you do great things and suddenly one thing happens at the end of the day and you go home and realize that tomorrow’s gonna be busy. And so you just decide, you know, I’m overwhelmed. It’s all I can do. Even though you had generally a good day, you forget immediately the good stuff that happened and you let yourself perseverate on the bad stuff, you filter the good stuff. Number two is personalizing. When something bad happens…now, how many of you with ADHD, you do this? When something bad happens, you instinctively believe it’s your fault. Oh my goodness. How often do you have to think about that with the folks who work with, Nikki?

Nikki: All the time.

Pete: I mean it happens every stinking day around my office.

Nikki: All the time. Every day. Every client, this happens. This is definitely an ADHD trait.

Pete: Totally. And, you know, it is even especially…okay, so a meeting cancels, you have to meet with a bunch of people and everybody is set to go and then at the last minute, the organizer cancels the meeting. My first instinct is always, I guess they didn’t want me to be a part of it and so they all canceled the meeting. They’re probably meeting together someplace else. I know that’s totally irrational and ridiculous and I need to…you know, but that’s the kind of behavior that you don’t even know you’re doing. It’s so insidious. Number…

Nikki: Can I give you an example that I see almost all the time too on a daily basis?

Pete: Yeah.

Nikki: So somebody will block a period of time to study or to work on a focus project and they don’t get done as much as they thought they were gonna get done in the two hours. They blame themselves. They immediately go to the place that I didn’t work hard enough. I was too distracted. I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to. It’s my fault. And I have to say, “It’s not, you did what you could in the two hours you had.” But they instinctively think it’s them.

Pete: It is all you can do. You do all you can do. The third one we talked about is catastrophizing and catastrophic thinking and the example that came into the other show, “What’s that Smell?” around catastrophic thinking is really dark, which is you anticipate the worst. And in this case, the submission was, you know, the anxiety I have, I come home and my, you know, I expect my family to be at home and they’re not home. And so I go immediately and directly to imagining that they have been kidnapped, like Liam Neeson in “Taken,” right, and that they’re gone. And he writes that he does not have a particular set of skills, you know, like that movie. And he’s just like panicked because now his family has been taken and have just vanished. And he imagines that they’re in a horrible place. That’s a dark place to go, catastrophic thinking.

Nikki: I completely relate to it. Completely relate to it. I won’t share the stories because they’re too just…they’re awful. But all I can say is I understand. I completely understand.

Pete: Well, and you know, for a long time my kids went to school across the river in Portland from where we live. Let me tell you that when that article comes out about the Pacific subduction zone and how we’re due for the big one and how that’s gonna split the city apart, I lived every day with this constant panic that I was gonna have to figure out where am I gonna get a boat when all of the bridges go down in order to find some way to get to my kids. It is a real relief that they don’t go to school over there anymore and now they’re blocks away, right?

Nikki: But I was gonna tell you, Pete, to help you with that, we have a boat and you’re welcome to borrow it anytime you need to. So if that ever happened, just rest assure that we have a boat that we will give you.

Pete: Excellent. I am so glad. Unfortunately, all the roads between you and me are going to be gone. Wait, I’m doing it again.

Nikki: Wait, but we still have a boat. So we’ll have our boat, we’ll come and get you.

Pete: Just come by boat to my house on the hill. Okay.

Nikki: I’m trying to be optimistic here.

Pete: Well, and that leads directly to point number four. So we have filtering, personalizing, catastrophizing, and polarizing is the first one. Polarizing, we’ve done a show on this one too. It’s binary thinking, right? Things are only good or bad and it’s that feeling that if you aren’t perfect all the time, you are a total failure, right?

Nikki: If you’re not consistent all the time, you have failed. The system has failed you and you have failed.

Pete: That’s right. So those are the big four. And I find those…you know, it’s a fascinating and nice concise list from the Mayo Clinic that I think is really helpful. And their perspective is from this idea of how, you know, this kind of thinking impacts your physical health and impacts your physical and emotional wellbeing, stress management, that sort of stuff because it has a direct and research-driven impact on your physiology. So we can talk more about that in a bit, but I wanted to get that out. So I want people, as we talk about this, I want you thinking about those four and what do you do day to day? How do these four, kind of, insinuate themselves into your process? There you go.

Nikki: Right, right. Well, I do wanna talk a little bit about the benefits and I am interested to hear what you learned about the cardiovascular health as well. But I know that when I was doing my research, you know, people are generally just happier. And you can see that, right? You have a more pleasant point of view. They live healthier lives. They live longer, they have lower stress levels. Last week, we talked about resilience. People who have more of an optimistic view of life are more resilient when bad things happen. And it increases their motivation too because, you know, you see the silver lining or you see, okay, there might be a lesson to be learned here. What can I do? Now, this doesn’t mean that it happens immediately. I don’t want people to just think that, oh, I’m gonna choose to be optimistic after something terrible has happened. It doesn’t work exactly like that, right? We know that. But it is something that you can practice and be aware of and work through.

Pete: That’s right.

Nikki: How do you think optimism would help navigate ADHD specifically?

Pete: It’s easy to get into obsessive thought spirals around…you know, thanks to ADHD and the OCD that creeps in. And so it’s important to include optimism or an optimistic mindset as a part of a mindfulness practice because you can’t do it without being present with it. It’s too easy for the negative thought spirals to be pervasive and to be the controlling indicator of what it is that you are, or the controlling factor in the way you approach the world. So, you know, for me, when I find that I’m in this obsessive thought spiral, I don’t even know it, right? It’s when the alarm goes off, you know, in the afternoon, and I have to do my daily check-in and I stop and I look at my list of how I approach the world, the things that I have to do. And I have to say, did I let it get the better of me today? Am I sitting here in a negative space right now?

And I explore that metacognitive, you know, experience of thinking about thinking, how am I thinking about my thinking today? Am I letting it get to me in a way that is going to cause me to continue to be in this thought spiral? Or can I take a minute? Can I take some deep breaths and can I try to find the way to change the language that I’m using to explore the positive side of the negative thinking?

Nikki: The only thing I would add to that is being mindful of your emotions, allowing you to notice them without judgment. Let’s take the judgment away. You know, let’s just look at it for what it is and how you’re feeling and not feeling bad about how you’re feeling. And like you said, giving yourself that space to feel what you feel. And I believe it’s at that moment, you know, then choosing what you wanna do with this. And there is no timeframe for this. It’s again, what I wanna be very clear, it’s there’s no timeframe for this because it really depends on the situation and what you’re dealing with. But I agree, I think you have to be mindful of what you’re feeling and what you wanna do with that.

Pete: I run into it all the time in the negative self-talk arena, right? I mean, because, you know, if I’m not on top of it, if I’m not practicing every day, then I’ll start saying things like…you know, I’ll use the word “too” a lot. It’s too much. It’s too complicated. I’m too overwhelmed. You know, I’ll never be able to get a handle on the workload or whatever. And rather than, you know, oh I’ll have to approach this from a different perspective, or you know, I don’t have the resources right now but, you know, necessity is the mother of invention. You know, I can be positive about a position of constraint. You know, I’m too lazy, I’m too overwhelmed. Well, maybe I couldn’t fit it in my schedule. Maybe I’m exhausted. Maybe I am just physically exhausted and I have to take care of my personal health before I can take care of this new client project. Like really try to think about and break down that language into something that can be, you know, refocused to the positive.

Nikki: Well, and something else that I believe will help with navigating your ADHD is really understanding how your ADHD affects you and learning more about ADHD, staying updated on the research and what’s happening because the more you can understand how your brain is wired and what you’re naturally going to do, then you can start accepting that, okay, this is part of the ADHD. I get that, I’m not broken. I don’t need to change for anybody else. I need to figure out how to work with this. Be kind to yourself and figure out, okay, how do I wanna respond to this? And I think that, you know, in our lives in my family, and I think that this is one of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned from my husband is we can’t control what happens to us. We can’t control that you have ADHD. I can’t control that I have anxiety. He can’t control that he has MS.

And it’s one of those things that, but what we do controls how we respond after maybe the initial shock, you know, of some of the stuff. But it really has such a big deal, or it’s such a big deal with the way that you look at life. You know, by looking at him, you would never even think anything was wrong because he carries himself with such joy and wants to talk to people. He’s not, you know…what am I trying to say? He’s not just in a hole. You know, he’s living his life. He’s doing what he can do with what he has. And he knows to do that now because something could easily be taken away from him in the future. So he’s living with being in the present.

And that’s what I would want people to understand is that optimism…and it doesn’t mean you don’t hurt. It just means that you’re shifting and you’re going to make the best. You’re gonna make lemonade out of lemons. You’re gonna do what you can. And I think a lot of ADDers, even though it doesn’t come naturally, I see so many success stories. I do see so many people who do get out of that shame and who do figure out the systems and do learn. I mean, in my coaching groups, it’s amazing that one of the best compliments I can receive or feedback I can hear is when people will end the group saying that they realized how important it was that they understood their ADHD and accepted it. And that was really the first piece before any of the strategies or any of that even mattered, and connection to other people. But it’s just such an important piece.

Pete: Yeah. Oh, it truly is. I read another article just completely coincidental to this conversation today and it was an opinion piece in “The New York Times” by David Brooks. And he talks about, you know, it’s called “The Moral Peril of Meritocracy,” right? Our individualistic culture inflames the ego and numbs the spirit. But failure teaches us who we are. That’s the perspective. And the metaphor he uses is that of two mountains, right? That we start our life and we’re climbing this mountain and maybe we’re working at a corporate job. And maybe we’re just trying to work our way up the ladder and, you know, we want something to…we’re doing all the right things we think because it’s gonna make us successful and feel successful and we’ll be respected because we continue to have merit, and then something happens, right?

Maybe it’s, you know, family. Maybe it’s illness, maybe it’s injury, maybe it’s failure. Whatever kind of failure or tragedy you undergo, you fall into the valley of despair. And it’s the valley of despair…this is where things get interesting, right? Whatever you think of David Brooks, for me, this is the thing that connected with me, that the valley of despair teaches us what’s important to us to start climbing a new mountain. And largely, when you reach that point in life, the things that are most important to you are not the things that were important to you when you graduated college and got the big law degree and, you know, went to work at a big firm and whatever was important to you. There’re things like, you know, I’m gonna quit my job and become a teacher, right? I’m gonna give back in a way that I never knew it was important to me, but I’ve realized that my perspective has changed.

I can see that, right? So there’s a parallel to this kind of thinking, right, to achievement thinking and optimistic thinking. These are two sort of divergent paths and to be able to sit and think, is my ADHD putting me in that valley of despair? Am I instinctively going to the most negative place? Then I have to stop and question, what right now is important to me? What is my next best contribution? What is the next step that I’m willing to take forward? If I identify the areas there that I think, you know, I am most ready to change then I’ll be in a much better place.

Nikki: Something that you said about the changing careers, it reminded me of another comment that Brene Brown had said in her presentation that so many of us…and we spend so many hours at work working. And if we’re not in a job that we really enjoy, then our joy and happiness isn’t gonna be full because it’s filled with dread. And so I thought that that was a really important piece that it’s really important to know how you’re spending your time and what kind of work you’re doing. And the most happy people are people, and I don’t remember where I heard this, but are people who are serving others in some way. You know, they feel like they’re contributing to somebody else. And I just think it’s another interesting piece. If you’re at a point in your life where you feel really pessimistic and there’s just a lot of negativity, I think you’ve gotta look at the whole self, you know, what is going on that’s happening there?

Pete: One of the interesting asides that I’m curious your perspective on is that, you know, when you look at optimism v. pessimism in terms of ADHD, it spins off of the conversation we had last week that you said that folks with ADHD are more resilient as a result of the things that they have had to deal with. My response was I don’t know anything about that because I haven’t not lived with ADHD, so maybe, I guess maybe I am, I don’t know.

Nikki: You are.

Pete: Is there a sort of parallel challenge that maybe with ADHD, because of the challenges that come with time estimation, right, scheduled, gating, not being able to scope projects take that we wanna take on that, in fact, there is a danger that optimism is an unmetered sort of well that is just overflowing with ADHD? And, in fact, the dark side of ADHD is that we’re too optimistic and therefore we take too much on at any given time. Like it’s just optimism allows us to take our foot off the brake.

Nikki: I know what you’re saying. I think that I separate it. So you know, is the optimism so big that you take on too much or too much? Okay. I wanna just sit with that for a second. An ADHD character trait for many people is creativity. It’s thinking big, it’s thinking outside of the box. So I would not want to send the message that somebody should limit that. What I would want to send the message is that you probably will need help managing it. You’re probably gonna need some assistance in breaking that down and really being realistic with what you can and can’t do right now. But I wouldn’t wanna take away the optimism at all because that’s where the creativity is. That’s where we grow. That’s where you can make a difference by inventing something that changes people’s lives. Probably not on your own, but I would say you do need some help just managing it, and followthrough, and all of that stuff, right? Like, you know, there’s a lot of things at ADHD then could get in the way and those are the things that you need to kind of navigate and figure out with help, with support.

Pete: Yeah, with guidance. And, you know, I always think back to my college days, acting, right. You know, I went to college to be an actor, believe it or not. And as a director, you’re always looking for exactly that trait, right? You always want somebody who’s going to come to the stage and give you more than you need because it’s so much easier to build habits around, you know, scaling it back. It’s always easier to do that than to do the work to actually, you know, bring more.

Nikki: I had to bring back Brene Brown. She’s an amazing woman. You know, she talked in her presentation about being small. You know, she wanted to stay small. And when she did that Houston TEDx talk, she thought she was small and then it ended up being this like, you know, millions of observers. And I mean, her career just took off. All this stuff happened after just that one TED talk. But she was always thinking small. And when you think small or you think you wanna limit your possibilities or you’re limiting yourself then, you know, you’re not in the arena. People who are Brene Brown fans will know what I’m talking about. You’re not showing up.

And there’s a risk when you show up and she guarantees you, you will fail and you will get hurt. But you keep standing up, you keep trying. And when you show up and you’re vulnerable and, you know, you’re showing your courage, that’s when good things are happening. That’s the magic. But, you know, if you’re the critic, and everybody who knows Brene Brown will know exactly what I’m talking about, you don’t have the right to judge somebody who’s in the arena because they’re showing up, they’re trying. And that’s where resilience comes in. I can’t imagine a life without optimism because I would be in a dark hole all the time. And so I think that, you know, I don’t believe you have to live your life that way. You’re gonna get hurt, but you also have to believe in yourself that you’re gonna be able to pick up the pieces.

Pete: Right. Let’s talk about daily practice.

Nikki: Yeah, I think gratitude is a huge thing whether that is something that you’re journaling, you’re putting in your planner. Maybe you’re just thinking about it every once in a while and it’s just in your head, whatever. But definitely practice gratitude. Watch where you place your judgments. We are judgmental, but I would really be careful of that. You know, never judge a book by its cover. It’s not always greener on the other side, right? We hear these things all the time in our lives and it’s so true because we just don’t know the story of somebody else and we’re not the right person to judge. And we are also not the right people to compare ourselves to others because you don’t know what their story is. So it may look perfect, but it’s not, everybody has a story.

Gossiping, that’s not a positive thing to do. And so if you’re getting caught in a web of conversations where you’re gossiping and talking kind of negative about other people, really pull yourself away from those kinds of conversations because it’s not gonna help you. And it’s certainly just not a nice thing to do. I would say, you know, those powerful affirmations. I shared with the listeners of the podcast a while ago about this story about my daughter going to the gymnastics meet and whatever you say after “I am” will eventually find you.

So that’s another way to really adjust your negative thinking into something that’s positive. What do you want instead? Jane Massengill, we had her as a guest earlier in the year, fantastic lady, and she had the wonderful two words that says “until now.” So you know what, past doesn’t matter, you can’t change it. So powerful, until now. So keep that. I mean, write it down. She had it on jewelry. You know, have those reminders that this doesn’t have to shape your life.

I would also say be kind to other people that you don’t know, but also to the people that you love. You know, give a compliment to somebody, let someone know or let somebody go before you at the grocery store, open a door, you know, keep it open for somebody. It’s just these subtle moments as humans, it seems like it’s in human nature but we know it’s not, and make that effort so other people can see that because it starts with us. It starts with one person and it can be a very powerful domino effect because somebody could have had a terrible day and then…you know, like a waiter or waitress. I always liked to give extra tips because they could be so busy, busy, busy, you know that they’re just having a terrible time. And then, you know, you didn’t really get great service, but you see that they’re having a terrible time and just give them an extra tip and say, you know, some nice words. Oh my gosh, wouldn’t that make your day?

Pete: Right. Pay it forward. Always pay it forward. Don’t be the person to end the pay it forward. I definitely agree with that.

Nikki: And I would say find joy in your life. Do the things that make you happy, that make you smile. And have a balance of working hard but playing hard. You know, it’s not always about the productivity list. It’s not always about what you can get done, but play, play with the people you love and enjoy the blessings we have.

Pete: You know, I’ll just throw in this, the cardiovascular health study, because this is the point that I wanted to make earlier, which I think was so interesting that, you know, we know that people who are optimistic, as it goes, tend to be healthier. And the study that they did, Hernandez and Kershaw did, as they are looking at adults age 52 to 84 who participated in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis, what they discovered is, yeah, those with the highest optimism were more likely to have intermediate and ideal cardiovascular health compared to the least optimistic group. But it’s more important than just, you know, oh, I’m optimistic, therefore I’m, you know, healthier. That’s not the connection. The connection is optimistic people are more likely to do the things that keep them physically healthy.

That means those people who are in that group of saying that they are most optimistic, those are also the people whose blood sugar and glycemic levels were in the ideal zone because they had an easier time of eating healthy foods. Those were the people whose blood pressure was lower because they practiced mindfulness as a part of their daily activities. Those people who were in the optimistic zone don’t smoke, right? Those people who were in the optimistic zone, their BMI, their body mass index was in the ideal zone because they were most likely to get regular physical activity, you know, on the order of, you know, 30 minutes a day.

Those are the most interesting sort of confounding indicators in this study that it’s not just, oh, I’m optimistic, therefore I’m healthy. It’s, I’m optimistic, therefore the things that I have to do to keep the human mechanism that is me moving are easier for me to do day to day. They’re easier for me to tackle. It’s easier for me to go out for another walk than it is to go eat another twinkie. And those are the things that you kind of have to keep in mind that when you do a daily mindfulness practice that is focused on optimism, that is focused on seeing the good in other people, the good in the world, you are more likely to be able to remember that I got to do some stuff for me, and you’re gonna reap the benefits of that.

Nikki: Oh, yeah, absolutely. That’s great.

Pete: Yeah. The only other bits I wanted to add would be open to humor. This is another one from the Mayo Clinic that laughter is one of those things that actually helps you, keeps your blood moving, keeps yourself oxygenated. You’re taking in lots of great to oxygen when you laugh. So seek humor in everyday things. And like you said, find a community of people who are also optimistic. Do not hang around with people who see only the negative in the world. Find a way.

Nikki: It’s toxic.

Pete: It is toxic. Find a way to free yourself from communities of folks who are poison.

Nikki: Absolutely. Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up because I completely spaced that one. But that’s like probably one of the most important ones. And if you can’t avoid them, at least spend less time with them. You know, do something to kind of like not get sucked into it because that is just as much a domino effect as optimism is too. So you just got to take care of yourself. Yeah. So where can people connect with other ADDers, Pete Wright?

Pete: Well, we happen to have a fantastic discord community, and we should add that that discord community is open. You don’t have to be a patron to access the general area of the discourse community, which is thriving and vibrant, that general chat room is fantastic, and encourage folks to check that out. And I’ll post an invite link in the show notes for this very episode. So just scroll over to the show notes and you’ll find a link and you can join the community right there. How about that? And if you choose to be a patron, if you choose to support the show, then you get access to all kinds of other wonderful channels and topic-specific channels, things like that. But you don’t have to do that. That’s just for those who want to, we’ve sort of…it has blossomed into something we didn’t expect, so.

Nikki: And I just wanna mention too, I offer coaching groups pretty much every season, right? So we’re looking at, you know, one in fall, spring, summer, winter. And so definitely check out the coaching groups. So if you’re looking to have connection with a small group of people and have, you know, 8 to 10 weeks where you’re really dedicated to working with those people, that can make a big difference too. So connect, connect, connect.

Pete: Connect, connect, connect. Thank you very much, Nikki Kinzer. Good conversation, I appreciate it.

Nikki: Thank you.

Pete: And thank you, everybody, for downloading and listening to this show. We sure appreciate your time and your attention and your optimism. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright, and we’ll catch you next week right here on “Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.”


Through Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast, Nikki Kinzer and Pete Wright strive to help listeners with support, life management strategies, and time and technology tips, dedicated to anyone looking to take control of their lives in the face ADHD.