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I'm most optimistic when I make the most of what I have: Katelin Leahy

"I feel most optimistic when I make the most of what I have, regardless of circumstance. In times of abundance, I am optimistic by savoring the moment and feeling grateful for my accomplishments.  In times of challenge, I am optimistic by approaching my tasks with strength, patience, and grace."

That's what the inspirational Katelin Leahy told me when I asked her what makes her optimistic.

Katelin E. Leahy is a PhD Candidate in Social/Personality Psychology in the Psychology Department of Michigan State University.

Katelin Leahy along with her colleagues Deborah KashyBrent DonnellanJeewon Oh and Kimberly KHardy have published a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. entitled "Optimism, relationship quality, and problem-solving discussions: A daily diary study" 

The study examined how naturally occurring day-to-day problem-solving discussions were related to daily reports of relationship quality. In addition, the researchers investigated whether optimism was associated with the nature and occurrence of these problems and moderated the association between problem-solving discussions and relationship quality.

112 couples took part in completing daily diaries over 14 days.

More optimistic individuals and individuals with more optimistic partners were more likely to resolve problems, less likely to discuss problems specifically about their relationship, and less likely to have problem discussions involving conflict on days when problem discussions occurred.

Individuals with partners who were high in optimism reported relatively high relationship quality regardless of whether a problem discussion occurred, whereas those with partners low in optimism reported significantly lower quality on days when such a discussion took place.

Katelin said “Problem-solving is a natural part of all relationships. For example, people argue with family members, people have bad days at work/school and go to their friends to chat about what went wrong, and people make joint life decisions with a partner where they need to figure out what to prioritize.  Much of previous research on problem-solving has been explicitly focused on conflict or looking at couples discussing one specific problem.

"I wanted to know how couples navigate problems day-to-day and how those experiences are associated with how optimistic people are, and how happy they are in their relationships.

“Optimistic people were more likely to resolve their problems and less likely to discuss problems involving conflict."

 

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