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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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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Take a moment to notice…

‘Savouring’ is a Positive Psycology term that involves being in the moment, not rushing or thinking ahead but appreciating the positive things that are happening around you and even to you.

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Last week in the school yard I happened to see a Mum give her child a kiss. From where I observed it was for no reason, just a sharing of love.  It was a moment that brought back so many beautiful memories and I did let my mind reflect on this act. What a privilege to be part of that moment as a spectator. It was a lovely small act. I ‘savoured’.

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Two of my boys are starting new schools next year. The uniforms were purchased yesterday and tried on again as soon as they got home. It was such a pleasure to be in the moment and sharing their excitement and joy as they anticipate a new year. This is quite a big thing in our family. We ‘savoured’.

“Noticing and savouring life’s small and big positive occurrences is a powerful tool for increasing one’s overall well-being.”
(Positive Psychology in a Nutshell  I Boniwell pg 136)

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As this Christmas season continues, as the school year ends and parties and celebrations happen, may you and your children find the time to ‘savour’ some moments. May you have the mindfulness to stop, enjoy, notice, appreciate and maybe even share the ‘golden moments’ whether they be ‘big’ or ‘small’.

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I would love to hear about some of your ‘savouring’.

Self-respect not to be confused with self-esteem (Part 2)

Today I am continuing on with the summary of the lecture that Dr Toni Noble gave titled ‘Developing your self-respect’.

There are 5 building blocks that are helpful in developing self-respect.

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1. Respect for others
Our values guide our behaviours. eg compassion, kindness, honesty.  We need to put these into practice even in difficult situations.  Also, we need to learn to extend compassion and support towards others and try to help others in trouble.

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2. Self knowledge

Be aware of what strengths you have. There is a list of 25 character strengths that Seligman and Peterson developed.  (There are different tests on line that can be taken, see www.viastrengths.org)

Focus more on your strengths than on your limitations.

3. Self management

Adopt a positive approach to life, one that has gratitude. (I happened to read 2 fantastic blogs today on exactly this and was truly thankful and amazed how it helped – I was in a ‘woe is me spot’ when I started the day!  They are overtly Christian, but for those interested the link is how to raise grateful kids )

Trust your own judgement, yet at the same time be open to advice.  We need to be able to balance pride with humility!

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4. Self control

We seem to have a spreading epidemic of self-regulation failure, this is not the same as low self-esteem.  Kids today are surrounded by so much technology that is highly distracting eg. using the computer for school work, but at the same time there is such easy access to other things.

Toni Noble mentioned the research involving the marshmallow test (the research is by Mischel et al). It has longitudinal data following children who were tested at the age of 4 who are now adults in their 40’s.  Briefly, a 4 year old was placed in a room with a marshmallow and told that if they waited until the person got back without touching the one in front of them, then they would get another one. The wait was approximately 15 minutes.

What the research has found that now, at age 40, out of those who waited there is a high percent who are  academically successful in life, whereas out of those who did not wait there is a higher percent of people with social problems, obesity issues and drug use. (Even Wikipedia has a summary of the test ‘Stanford marshmallow experiment”)

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5. Self protect

If a person has self-respect then self-protect follows.  A person will not let others bully or hurt them, they will be healthier in life style and not put themselves down.

There is so much in these 5 building blocks! Each building block provides a topic with so many possibilities for the classroom.  These topics wold also make great dinner time conversations with families! What does it mean to have self respect?

Educate for self-respect, not self-esteem.

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