Dana Lightman, Ph.D., Optimist Personified

September 13th is Positive Thinking Day, and with the anniversary of 9/11, we all can use some optimism. This may help…..



Dana Lightman, Ph.D. wears several hats well. Educator, psychotherapist, public speaker and writer can all be added to her list of accomplishments. Interviewing Dana after reading her book, POWER Optimism, I can attest to her sincerity (“I want to change people’s lives.”), her ability to engage someone in a meaningful conversation (as she did me), and her joy for life (lively, energetic and positive in person).

Lightman’s main focus is speaking to professional groups, using her psychotherapy training and her book, POWER Optimism, as springboards for two main topics: Energizing Your Peak Potential, which requires an optimistic outlook and There is No Such Thing as Difficult People; rather there needs to be a shift in your reaction to so-called difficult people.

Dana’s public speaking engagement can be a three-hour workshop of 15-30 people or a professional conference in which she performs in front of 300 participants as a keynote speaker. (In Dana’s book, she confesses that she really wanted to be an actress, and through her public speaking she is able to have that enjoyment as a performer.)

When I asked her for the main points of her book, which I review* below, Dr. Lightman focused on these three points:

1.  Reframing, that is shifting one’s focus from a negative frame of mind to a positive one.
2. Noticing your limiting beliefs and working on changing them to positive ones.
3.Exploring your growing edge; that is, moving somewhat out of your comfort zone by taking intentional risks that are not fearful, but challenging. (See quote in the book review for a metaphorical explanation, below)

Based on reading Dana’s book and enjoying a delicious lunch at Cafette, a perfect place to review in the future, (www.cafette.com) in the suburban Philadelphia section of Chestnut Hill, I would welcome the opportunity of hearing her speak.

If you are a member of a professional organization seeking a dynamic speaker, either as a keynote speaker or for a three-hour interactive workshop seeking ways to empower yourself and your employees, I suggest you contact Dana through her website:

www.danalightman.com, or contact her via email: dana@danalightman.com. Dr. Lightman will travel anywhere to speak so long as transportation is paid and her speaking fees are fair and flexible. As we talked, Dana told me that her main goal in her work is to have the privilege of talking to people so they can also experience POWER Optimism, which is a perfect segue to my mini-review of her book by the same name.

POWER Optimism grabbed my interest right away, because Dana uses the metaphor of a garden to explore her topics, and I love gardening. The cover has a tree with deep roots, which is a clue to the theme of her book:

Part I: Preparing the Soil (Chapters: Roots to Shoots, A Daisy Among Orchids, Clear Thos Rocks and Pull Those Weeds)
Part II: Planting Your Power
Part III: Maintaining Your Garden (includes Gardening Tools, a section on Additional Resources to Keep You Going)

Part II, Planting Your Power, which I feel is the core of the book, uses the letters in POWER in her title to explore being Proactive, Open-minded, Well-informed, Evolving, and Resilient.

Here are some quotes from Dana’s books that will demonstrate her own optimism.

I always look to the positive. I know that, although I can’t control what happens in my life, I can control my reactions to it. By staying positive, the hardships that occur don’t seem overwhelming. (p. 5)

A person’s growing edge is very much like new shoots that emerge from the ground in the spring, bringing with them a harvest of vines, flowers, and blooms. (p. 7)

Grow your life like a garden, filling it with thoughts, feelings and actions that will produce a fruitful harvest. (p. 25)

Dr. Lightman employs cognitive-behavior therapy and positive psychology when she works one-on-one with clients. The idea is to use talk-therapy in a positive manner in order to help her clients “unleash their full potential and vitality.” (p.35) The book also contains helpful charts and summaries to bring the points she is making to a clear understanding.

Written in lay terms, I found POWER Optimism very well planned and well written. As a writer, I appreciate the format and as a person who believes strongly in talk therapy, I found the content helpful and enlightening. The 212-page book sells for $15 and is available from Dana through her website: www.danalightman.com. When speaking to groups, Dana provides a discount when several copies are purchased.


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