the practice of being positive

Sometimes people ask me if my readings and blogging make a difference to how I think and do things. Without hesitation my answer is ‘yes’.

I have found that spending time reading challenges me with the practical aspects of what it takes to lead a flourishing life. The blogging and putting the research into words then helps to remind me again. I do hope that for you, the reader, it also provides encouragement to do the same. As I have implemented different things it has really made a difference.

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Over the next 8 days we are off on a camping trip – for those of you familiar with my part of the world, we are off to Mambray Creek, Roxby Downs, William Creek, Coober Pedy.  Probably not top on my list of things to do considering it is winter and my husband is sure I am cold blooded like a reptile. I get cold so easily and it makes me feel grumpy!

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Thus, whilst having a break from blogging I am sure my family and I will not be having a break from implementing many of the practical things we have been learning and digesting! Things like:

*Thinking of 3 things we are grateful for each day
*Doing at least 1 act of kindness each day
*Taking time to be in the moment and having time to love and care for each other.
*Having a growth mindset when in situations that are challenging.
*Exercising together and having fun.
*Showing grit when we want to curl up.
*Remembering PERMA – Positive emotions, Engagement in a task, Relationships are important, having belief in something bigger than myself (Meaning) and a sense of Accomplishment..these aspects of living contribute to a flourishing life.

Bring it on!
Enjoy your next week and may you too have time to implement and try some of these things.  I’ll let you know how it goes. R x

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Is it ok to be thankful for that?

My 8 year old has been in the habit of off-loading his ‘worries’ before he goes to sleep at night. Lately I noticed that off-loading did not seem to make much difference, so I decided to do the opposite and bounce back and forth between us things that we were grateful for.

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To start off with he couldn’t think of anything, so I started with “I am thankful for bedtime.” He then bounced back with “I am thankful for family.”
As I was lying on the bed next to him and the fluffy quilt had just been put back on the bed due to it becoming colder in our part of the world, I was grateful for the soft-feeling, cosy warm quilt. Josiah paused and looked at me and commented, “can you be thankful for little things like that?”

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I was quite surprised. As a family we have often talked about what we are grateful for and somehow in Josiah’s head it had to be something ‘big’ or there was a certain standard the thankfulness had to reach.

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This then reminded me of the way we can live life for the ‘big’ things and miss the little everyday things that actually make up life.

..the big moments are the tiny moments. The breakthroughs are often silent,
and they happen in the most unassuming of spaces.
(The Inbetween, Jeff Goins)

With my boy, I need to learn and practice that the thankfulness is not always for the big things, but for the little things that make up the world around us. Those little things that are so easy to miss and yet are so much of our world.

May you have time this weekend to be grateful for the little things and share them with those around you.

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Intervention number 1…. Three good things

In the book Positive Psychology in a Nutshell I have just read the chapter titled “Psychology Interventions”.
This is where the rubber hits the road, where research meets practice. This is the chapter that says, ‘but what does this mean for me?’ This is the part that says ‘try this…’

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There is a list of interventions – some have been researched with empirical evidence and some are pretty dependable but are waiting for the chance to be researched! However, I thought I would spend the next few blog entries going through some of them.

1. Three good things

Every night for a week, look back on your day just before you go to bed and think of 3 things that went well for you during the day.  Write them down and reflect on your role in them.

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There are three things that need to be observed when you do this:
*Writing down is important as it helps you to focus on the events.
*Reflecting on your own role is no less essential, as it contributes to your sense of perceived control which in turn has an impact on your well-being.
*Timing of this exercise is significant – either stick to it for one week, or try it once a week for six weeks.  Studies have shown that the well-being of those who carried it out three times a week for six weeks actually decreased slightly which suggest that there is such a thing as too much (Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2004)!  This finding co-exists with the fact that people who who continue ‘counting their blessings’ occasionally after the intervention week demonstrated the best outcomes (page 132).

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It seems incredibly simple to do these activities but it has been found to make a massive difference. In fact
“probably the most powerful of all positive psychology techniques….it has been found to increase happiness and decrease depressive symptoms for up to 6 months (Seligman et al., 2005). However this does not mean that after the 6 months the effects had worn off, but simply that the participants were not followed beyond this point.” (ibid)

There’s a challenge! Find a journal and leave it next to your bed. Get your son or daughter to give it a go.
In the classroom, try ending the day by asking the kids to write things things that went well and their role in it.

Happy writing!

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Gratitude or Happiness – what comes first?

Today has been a crazy day. I knew from the moment I woke up holidays were over! My Man was out the house by 8am dressed in the suit. The list of things to do was compiled and the balancing of 4 other lives and their needs was happening in a whole different way. It was a rude awakening and it has been hard to stay positive!

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This evening I had time to read through a few things and came across this:

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. And that gratefulness quickly leads to a satisfied, simplified, focused life.”
Becoming Minimalist

So much of what I have been reading in the positive psychology world is about being grateful and I really appreciated the links made here between gratefulness, satisfaction and happiness. It is easy to be grateful when we are happy, but to realise that being grateful brings that happiness or joy is a different matter.

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I am grateful for the holidays that we have had.  We have been blessed as a family to spend many days in the sun, sand and surf.  And we have been blessed to spend many days with family and friends.

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Sometimes we need the links between theory and practice to be spelled out clearly. That’s what I love about the things I am learning and share with you –  it is all just living.

Thought for the weekend – try these 3 things!

As the first weekend of the year approaches, perhaps some of you are reflecting on New Years resolutions or simply the New Year that looms. I read that the success of resolutions actually lies in the type that you make! http://www.dailygood.org/story/640/3-resolutions-for-a-happier-year-christine-carter

Below is a quick summary of the article. Happy thinking for the weekend and days ahead.

Research has shown that the following three will increase your happiness. Maybe pick one and concentrate on it for awhile, and then introduce the other ones gradually.

1. Spend more time with family and friends.
Study after study shows that we tend to be happier when we feel connected to our nearest and dearest, when we feel like we are a part of a group or a clan.

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2. Everyday, find a way to give something to somebody.
In a world that is more focused on getting than giving, a New Year’s resolution to do one kind thing each day, or to give thanks in one small way, is a pretty radical act. When we make giving a habit, we make gratitude and kindness central themes in our lives.

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3. Get more sleep and exercise.
I know, that’s not one resolution, it’s two, but the science around these physical happiness boosters is pretty compelling. Studies are clear: You’ll be less stressed, less sick, and less grouchy in the New Year if you get more shut-eye. Try increasing your sleep 10 minutes a night for a week, and then another 10 the next week, and so on until you are regularly getting your eight hours.

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Grateful: A Love Song to the World

Grab a cuppa, sit down and enjoy looking at this music clip I came across! Share it with your kids, with your class or who-ever! Music is such a wonderful medium for sharing emotion and gratitude! May it evoke some grateful thoughts in you during this day! R xx

“Musicians Nimo Patel and Daniel Nahmod brought together dozens of people from around the world to create this beautiful, heart-opening melody. Inspired by the 21-Day Gratitude Challenge, the song is a celebration of our spirit and all that is a blessing in life. For the 21 Days, over 11,000 participants from 118 countries learned that “gratefulness” is a habit cultivated consciously and a muscle built over time. As a famous Roman, Cicero, once said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” This soul-stirring music video, created within a week by a team of volunteers, shines the light on all the small things that make up the beautiful fabric of our lives.” – See more at: http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=4460#sthash.hOdkY4k7.dpuf

Thought for the weekend

Today I had the opportunity to talk to a class about gratitude. We had such a good time as we discussed  what it is and the difference that it makes in life.

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I then asked the kids to write 3 things they are grateful for. I was so amazed with what they wrote as 10 year olds, and I have included here (with the permission of the student) a real gem!  As adults how would we go?

“I am grateful to have a life with everything in it and for being here today and having a great family and friends.  I am grateful for being healthy and free.  I love the world I am on and grateful for all the opportunities I have had.”

May you take some time out to think of 3 things you are grateful for and why.

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(I know it is the thought for the weekend, but I have included the detail below for those who have time to read it!)

6 Reasons Why to Teach Kids to Be Grateful

1. Better Attitudes:

Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, Emmons, 2008).

2. Better Achieve Personal Goals:

Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.

3. Closer Relationships, Greater Happiness:

Professor Froh infused middle–school classes with a small dose of gratitude—and found that it made students feel more connected to their friends, family, and their school:

“By the follow–up three weeks later, students who had been instructed to count their blessings showed more gratitude toward people who had helped them, which led to more gratitude in general. Expressing gratitude was not only associated with appreciating close relationships; it was also related to feeling better about life and school. Indeed, compared with students in the hassles and control groups, students who counted blessings reported greater satisfaction with school both immediately after the two–week exercise and at the three–week follow–up.”

4. Better Grades:

Gratitude in children: 6-7th graders who kept a gratitude journal for only three weeks, had an increased grade point average over the course of a year.

5. Greater Energy, Attentiveness, Enthusiasm:

A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others).

6. Greater Sensitivity:

Children who kept gratitude journals were more sensitive to situations where they themselves can be helpful, altruistic, generous, compassionate, and less destructive, more positive social behaviors, and less destructive, negative social behaviors…

“Gratitude is good for the giver, and good for the receiver,” Professor Emmons said. “This has been documented in friendships, romantic partners and spouses. One study showed that the mere expression of thanks more than doubled the likelihood that helpers would provide assistance again.”

And if We Don’t Practice Gratitude?

On the other hand, research shows that youth who are ungrateful are “less satisfied with their lives and are more apt to be aggressive and engage in risk-taking behaviors, such as early or frequent promiscuous activities, substance use, poor eating habits, physical inactivity, and poor academic performance.”

Research from: Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier

Excerpt from 15 ways to raise grateful kids

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