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Introducing Positive Psychology

IntroductionIntroducing_Positive_Psychology

I’ve read this book in 2012 and wrote the notes around this time. I won’t add anything. It’s just for the sake of completion.

  • “Positive psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning and what makes life worth living”

  • Founders

    • Martin Seligman

    • Mihaly Csiskszentmihalyi

  • Journals

    • Journal of Positive Psychology

    • Psychology of Well-being

    • Journal of Happiness Studies

    • International Journal of Well-being

  • 40% of our happiness is determined by intentional activities

  • Well-being journal

    • Record activities and how you get on with them

    • Start off with an initial level

      • Positive psychology center: four question general happiness scale, five question satisfaction with life scale and 24-question authentic happiness inventory

  • Happiness is less about ‘having’ and more about ‘doing’

  • Changing how you spend your time and your outlook on life helps achieving long-lasting happiness

What is happiness?

  • Hedonic well-being: feeling pleasure

  • Eudaimonic well-being: doing what is worth doing; meaning and purpose in your life, fulfilling our potential and feeling that we are part of something bigger than you

  • Subjective Well-Being (SWB) = Satisfaction with Life + Positive Emotion – Negative Emotion

    • Satisfaction with life: what I think about my life

    • Positive Emotion: how positive I feel

    • Negative Emotion: how negative I feel

  • PERMA (M. Seligman)

    • Positive emotion

    • Engagement (flow)

    • Relationships

    • Meaning

    • Accomplishment

Barriers to well-being

  • Barrier: negativity bias

    • You are more likely to remember bad things (experiences, emotions & information) than good ones

    • Positivity ratio if 3:1 (Losada line), means you will need three times the positive experiences to flourish

    • “bad is stronger than good”

    • > try to make a conscious effort to notice and focus on the good things in your life first

  • Barrier: duration neglect

    • Duration hardly matters at all

    • More important factors

      • Intensity of the peak emotion

      • The end of the experience

    • > try to end experiences on a high note

      • Most pleasant task / experience last

      • Remember how much you’ve done so far

      • Try to reframe bad experiences in a positive way

  • Barrier: social comparison

    • > try to compare yourself with those who are worse off

  • Barrier: hedonic treadmill

    • Positive experience fade away rather quickly

    • Bad experiences fade away more quickly

  • Barrier: lack of self-control

    • “lack of self-regulation is at the hart of many of the social and personal problems that we suffer in the modern, developed world”

    • Higher self-control is actually linked to higher well-being

    • The more you practice self-control, the stronger it gets

    • > find an activity that requires self-control but which you are motivated to do

Positive emotions

  • Broaden and build theory (B. Fredrickson)

    • Experience of positive emotions enables people to create additional resources in the following categories:

      • Intellectual (e.g. problem-solving skills)

      • Physical

      • Social

      • Psychological

    • > try to find positive experiences: plan something different for a week, look at pictures that make you happy

  • Small acts of kindness helps building relationships and makes you happy

  • Amusing experiences help you to recover more quickly from negative experiences / stress

  • Benefits of happiness and positive emotions

    • Longer lifespan

    • Higher earnings

    • Sociability and better quality relationships

    • Better mental and physical health

    • Likeability

    • Greater persistence

    • Creativity

    • More efficient decision-making

    • => cause or effect?

  • Frequency of positive emotions is more important than intensity

Engagement or flow

  • ‘high-skill high-challenge’ experiences (in the zone)

  • Characteristics of activities

    • Right challenge level (not too hard and not too easy)

    • You goal is clear

    • Immediate feedback

    • Feel completely absorbed and at one with what you’re doing

    • You feel in control

    • You lose track of time

    • You don’t feel self-conscious

    • The activity is intrinsically rewarding

  • Flow is linked to

    • Achievement

    • Better physical health

    • Improved self-esteem

  • High challenge + medium – high skill = flow

  • High challenge + low skill = anxiety and stress

  • Low challenge + medium – high skill = apathy and boredom

    • You can make the challenges more difficult by setting goals

      • E.g. washing the dishes in 20 instead of 30 minutes

  • Get more flow into your life

    • SMART goals

      • Specific

      • Measureable

      • Achievable

      • Realistic

      • Time-bound

    • Aim for high-skill & high-challenge balance

    • Focus on what you’re doing

    • Find ways to get immediate feedback

    • Make the task more fun

Positive relationships

  • Moods and behaviors are contagious

    • Happiness depends on the people with whom you are connected

  • Warm, trusting and supportive relationships are important for well-being

  • Ability to respond enthusiastically to good news is more important than how we communicate in bad times

    • Passive Constructive (PC) – “it’s good / nice”

    • Passive Destructive (PD) – turn conversation to yourself

    • Active Destructive (AD) – respond with negative notions “that’s terrible because X”

    • Active Constructive (AC) – enthusiastic & energetic support allowing them to capitalize on the good news

  • Relationship positivity ratio 5:1

Meaning and purpose

  • Two central functions

    • Bedrock foundation which allows us to be more resilient

    • Sense of direction which allows us to set goals and targets to aim for

  • PURE (P. Wong)

    • Purpose (motivations, goals, values and aspirations)

    • Understanding (self-awareness, who you are, what you do and where you stand)

    • Responsibility (integrity, assuming responsibility)

    • Enjoyment / Evaluation (enjoyment of life, iterations)

  • Meaning

    • Classical by internal & external meaning

    • Or by relationship:

      • Work as a job – to finance your mean time (extrinsic)

      • Work as a career – focused on promotions / rewards (extrinsic)

      • Work as a calling – end in itself, contribution & personal fulfillment

Accomplishment

  • Accomplishment

    • Achievement, success, competence, mastery and progress towards your goals

  • Achievement is influenced by skill and effort

    • Speed of thought

    • Rate of learning

  • Competence

    • Get regular feedback

    • Improve your skills

    • Get a mentor

Appreciative inquiry (AI)

  • Meanings

    • To be grateful

    • To recognize the value / quality of something

    • To increase in value

  • A process for implementing & achieving change: strength-based approach to managing change

  • Start with what’s working well and then build on this information

  • Principles

    • ‘Words create worlds’ – subjective perception allows people to see the same situation in different lights

    • Asking question starts the change process

    • Individual experience can be told and reinterpreted in different ways

    • Positive change can come from positive images of the future

    • Review of what works well is more enlightening

  • AI works on a systemic level

  • Stages of AI

    • Start: ‘Positive core’ – What is good / great?

    • Stage 1: Discovery: asking further positively-framed question about your positive core

    • Stage 2: Dream: Create positive & compelling vision of the future

      • Based on descriptions & stores from Stage 1

    • Stage 3: Design: Create a design for the future

    • Stage 4: Destiny: Developing, creating and improving

Character strengths

  • Assessment

    • Values in Action Inventory of Strengths

    • Strengthscope

    • Realise2

  • Talent = Foundation for strength development

  • Competence = something you are good at but don’t partially like

  • Strengths = personal attributes which energies us, which feel like us and which enable optimal performance

Emotional intelligence

  • Emotional intelligence have greater awareness of their own emotions & of others

    • Self-aware

    • Self-managed

    • Socially-aware

    • Socially-Skilled

  • Model of emotional intelligence based on these skills:

    • Identifying emotions

    • Using emotions appropriately

    • Understanding the causes of emotions

    • Managing your emotions

  • Negative feelings

    • Make us more focused

    • Easier to be critical

    • More likely to spot mistakes

    • Easier for us to pay attention to detail

  • Positive feelings

    • Expand our thinking

    • Easier to think up new ideas

    • Encourage us to consider new possibilities

    • Think in terms of opportunities

Gratitude

  • Gratitude relates strongly to your sense of coherence

    • Belief that life is manageable, meaningful and understandable

  • How to

    • Write a gratitude journal

      • Iamthinkful.com or thankfulfor.com

    • Write a thank you card / letter

    • What where your three good things today?

    • What went well?

Mindfulness

  • Specific type of meditation-based practice

  • Paying attention in the following way

    • On purpose

    • In the present moment

      • Notice thoughts and emotions as they occur

    • Non-judgmentally

      • Accept things as they are

  • Opposite of mindlessness

Mindsets

  • Fixed mindset

    • Your personal qualities and abilities are carved in stone

  • Growth mindset

    • Personal qualities and abilities can be changed or developed

  • Effects of a growth mindset

    • Focus on learning goals:

      • First gaining competence then mastering it

      • Less about winning and losing and more about growing and learning

    • Responding to failure / Taking responsibility

    • Making an effort

      • ‘Practice makes perfect’

    • Problems as opportunities to try new strategies

Motivation and goals

  • Approach goals: positive outcomes

    • Contribution to our well-being

    • Presence of something positive

  • Avoidance goals: negative outcome

    • Stressful

    • Absence of something negative

  • Self-Determination Theory (SDT) for human motivation

    • Control / Autonomy for setting goals

    • Competence – Regular positive feedback

    • Connection – Relationships with people who are close and secure

  • Improving your working memory will help increase your self-control

    • Brainworkshop.sourceforge.net

  • Goal focus by commitment

    • Fully committed -> focus on what you have left to accomplish

    • Uncertain commitment -> focus on what you have done so far

Nutrition

  • Deficiency of

  • Omega-3 can lead to depression, anxiety, poor concentration and mood swings

  • Folic acid is linked to fatigues, confusion and irritability

  • Iron is linked to fatigue, irritability, apathy, inability to concentrate and increase depressive symptoms

  • Vitamin B12 is linked to loss of memory, mental dysfunction and depression

  • Vitamin C has been shown to reduce major depression

  • Zinc is linked to depressions

Optimism

  • Advantages

    • Less anxiety, depression and distress

    • More effective coping

    • Higher life satisfaction & increased well-being

    • Stronger immune system and lower cardiac risk

    • Recover from surgery more quickly

    • Adapt better to negative events

    • Don’t give up so easily

    • More action-oriented when faced with problems

  • Styles

    • Explanatory styles

      • The way we explain our experiences

      • Optimists attribute the cause of negative events to

        • External

        • Specific

        • Transient factors

      • Optimists attribute the cause of positive events to

        • Internal

        • Global

        • Permanent factors

  • Defensive pessimists

    • Take their expectation as shield to manage their anxiety

    • Don’t profit from optimism

Physical exercise

  • Tips

    • Find different forms of exercise that you enjoy and alternate them

    • Consider mixing individual, partner & team exercises

    • Be part of group – helps if your self-control isn’t strong

    • Think outside the box

    • Start with the most pleasant exercise first, then it’s easier to continue

    • Start with small steps

  • Benefits

    • Reducing high blood pressure

    • Developing strong bones & muscles

    • More active brain cells

    • Better mental skills

    • Better memory

    • Enhance body image, self-esteem & self-perceptions

    • Improved sleep patterns

    • Reduce emotional distress

    • Reduced depression

    • Reduced stress

  • Small commitments help a lot

    • 5 – 30min walk

    • 5min light resistance training

Resilience

  • Key element in positive psychology

  • Benefits

    • More likely to perceive challenges / setbacks as manageable

    • Greater emotional stability

    • Greater ability to cope with stressors & daily hassles

    • Greater energy

    • Curious & open to new experiences

    • Good at helping other people feel good too

  • Reflect on setbacks which you recovered from

    • You have a wide array of experiences dealing with setbacks

    • Write about your really bad life experiences

  • Three Ds

    • Distraction — do something to calm or silence your negative inner voice

    • Distancing — Your interpretation, is just an interpretation – you don’t have to see something the way you do

      • Will this experience matter in 5 hours / days / weeks / years time?

      • Who is wore off than me at the moment?

      • What else do I have in my life that is unaffected by this?

      • How can I interpret this situation more positively?

    • Disputation — look for evidence for and against your belief

  • Try to find benefits of (negative) events (benefit-finding)

    • Which doors have opened thanks to the event?

Savouring

“The aim of life appreciation.” — G.K. Chesterton

  • Savouring more down-to-earth definition of appreciation

    • To be thankful for something

    • To acknowledge the quality of something

    • To increase in value

    • => Really noticing, appreciating and enhancing the positive experiences in your life

  • How to

    • Slow down

    • Pay attention to what you are doing

    • Use all your senses

    • Stretch out your experience

    • Reflect on your enjoyment

  • Savour things

    • In the present

    • From the past

    • In the future

  • Expressing your positive feelings externally can intensify them

Positive psychology of time

  • Stop trying too many things

  • Enjoy your free time more intensively

  • Don’t slump in front of the TV

  • Time perspectives

    • Future time

      • Able to delay gratification

      • Work towards future rewards

      • More successful

    • Present positive time

      • Enjoy life to the max

      • Less likely to be concerned about the consequences

    • Present negative time

      • Sense of hopelessness

      • Life is controlled by outside forces

    • Past positive time

      • Lots of pleasure from looking back

      • Like to maintain family traditions

    • Past negative time

      • More likely to have many regrets

    • Survey: http://www.thetimeparadox.com/surveys/ztpi/

  • Balanced time perspective (BTP)

    • Benefits:

      • Happier

      • More satisfied with life

      • Experience more positive emotions

      • Have stronger sense of life purpose

      • More optimistic

      • More self-efficacious

    • How to

      • Pick the right TP

      • E.g. studying: future TP, relaxing: present positive time

Where next?

  • Feeling outside of your comfort zone can be good — sign that you are learning something new

“What one thing will you commit to do today that will help improve your well-being for the longer term?”

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