Jason Mraz, Live It Forward, and Learned Optimism

To know me is to know I love music. And when it comes to artists, Jason Mraz is my favorite. Kathy and I saw his LOVE tour a few years ago at an amphitheater in Orange Beach. Third row center (iPhone picture below). Nice! In a few weeks we’ll be at another beach to see his YES tour. Even nicer!!

Jason Mraz - Learned Optimism

Why is Jason Mraz’s music so good? One, his voice is a pure as it gets. Simply amazing! Two, his sound and lyrics are authentic and soulful. Three, and perhaps most importantly, he seems to have learned optimism.

Jason Mraz, Live It Forward, and Learned Optimism

Learned optimism is a phrase associated with Dr. Martin Seligman and the positive psychology movement. Dr. Seligman is the chair of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the pioneers in positive psychology. He has authored several books, including two of my favorites, Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness (affiliate links). In the most succinct terms, positive psychology isn’t a shallow, mantra-based system. Backed by scientific studies, positive psychology is proving happiness is not the result of good genes or luck. Identifying and nurturing traits you already possess such as kindness, generosity, humor, and originality is what cultivates happiness. In other words, its focus is on learned optimism.

Positive psychology and learned optimism are foundational to the character, confidence, and commitment message associated with Live It Forward. Similarly, I believe learned optimism has been essential along the road to success Jason Mraz is experiencing. Listen to his music and you’ll discover life hasn’t always been easy for him. Yet unlike many artists who focus on life through half-empty lenses, Jason Mraz finds the good even in the sour. You’ll find this optimistic theme throughout most of his lyrics including this recently released song 3 Things.

Three Things 

There are three things I do when my life falls apart
Number one I cry my eyes out and dry up my heart
Not until I do this will my new life start
So that’s the first thing that I do when my life falls apart.

Oh, the second thing I do is I close both of my eyes
And say my thank-yous to each and every moment of my life.
I go where I know the love is and let it fill me up inside
Gathering new strength from sorrow,
I’m glad to be alive.

Things are looking up
I know above the clouds the sun is shining
Things are looking up
Love is still the answer I’m relying
On three little things

The third thing that I do now when my world caves in,
is I pause, I take a breath, and bow and I let that chapter end.
I design my future bright not by where my life has been.
And I try, try, try, try, try again.
Yes I try, try, try, try, try again.

Things are looking up
I know beyond the dark the sun is rising
Things are looking up
And I know above the clouds the sun is shining
Things are looking
Love is still the answer I’m relying
On three little things

Question: How have you developed learned optimism and how has it helped you during difficult circumstances?