Category Archives: Positive Psychology

Helpful, healthy language

A good reminder from James Clear on a simple shift in language that can help with healthy eating and with moving our ‘locus of control’ from external to more internal.  When we say “I can’t”, we are using externally focused language – something is preventing us.  When we say “I don’t”, we are making a choice – an internally focused choice.

I’ve used this latter language successfully for a number of years.  When I go out during the week, my standard response to being offered a drink is “Thanks, I don’t drink (alcohol) Monday to Thursday”.  It’s both a habit – I don’t even think about it – and it’s a healthy life choice.

Now I could take it even further, from negative to positive.  Instead of saying what I don’t do – drink alcohol – I could say what I do.  I could say “I abstain”, or perhaps “I drink water Monday to Thursday”, to make it easier for my hosts to know what to serve me.

The learning about helpful language is ongoing.

Will you stay or will you leave?

Fascinating article from researcher  Irit Alony, of Wollongong University, published in the Conversation today. She and her colleagues applied the successful divorce-prediction criteria of John Gottman, from the University of Washington, to see if it could predict which employees were more likely to leave their organisations.

If I understand the research study correctly, those who express negativity such as: “disappointment, withdrawal, hostility, or contempt” (Alony, Hasan & Sense, 2015) are more likely to leave both a marriage and a workplace.  In contrast, those of us who learn the following coping mechanisms are more likely to stay (in both a marriage and a workplace):
– Balancing the good with the bad (e.g. with at least a 2:1 ratio of two positive comments for every negative, aiming towards a thriving relationship ratio of 5:1)
– Genuinely accepting that bad things (e.g. annoying people and systems and rules) are just part of work life
– Avoiding lengthy discussions of the negatives (e.g. learning to shift conversations to focus on how they coped or what they learned so that we/they can do better or differently next time)
– Expressing hope (e.g. that you can directly influence and/or you can cope with whatever happens to you).

And the best way to increase the positives, is to thank others for their contribution, rather than just assuming “that’s what they are paid to do”.

So ‘thank you’ to my Thought Ratio colleague, MIchelle Carlyle for this link.

Why we must celebrate the small wins

A great way to start the week listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Chase Jarvis.

I especially love his comments about the really important reason for celebrating the small wins.

As Tim explains it: we want to be creative because we want to do great work and we want to do great work to feel good about ourselves and if we give ourselves small doses of feeling successful throughout the creative process, rather than just at the end, we get better at celebrating the big wins too.

So true.

Guilt is Good

Have a look at a great video clip from NLP master trainer Steve Andreas about guilt.

He gives us some really good reframing: If I’m feeling  guilty about something rude I said, I can ask myself “in the moment what was more important – speaking up or being nice?  If I acknowledge that I’ve chosen speaking up for myself as more important, then I must be a person who lives my values.”

So I’ve reframed the thought of violating a value in order to satisfy another value to mean I am a person who lives my values.  Nice.   It’s counterintuitive – an interesting benefit of guilt.

If I”m feeling really guilty about not “being nice” then that means that value is also really important to me.  So a values clash can help to clarify what’s important to me. Another benefit of guilt.

Maybe I haven’t learned how to achieve both together yet, but by knowing that both values are important, I can choose to make amends, to show that I’m also ‘nice’.  And using ‘intelligent regret’, I can reflect on my behaviour and choose to do something different in the future that combines both values.  This gives me problem to solve rather than wallowing in embarrassment. That’s a third benefit of guilt.

In conclusion, guilt is good.  Especially if you do something different as a result of it.

Thanks Steve – very helpful.

Gaining a Slight Edge

I’m really enjoying Jeff Olsen’s book The Slight Edge.  It ties together a number of themes I love around taking action, discipline, mastery, developing habits and positivity and the diagram reminds me that there are consequences of taking (small actions consistently leads to great results.

http://www.slightedge.org/public/admin/Slight%20Edge%20life%20paths.jpg

As a result of the book’s message, I’ve created a Slight Edge Scorecard.  Look out of a copy of it in the next post. 

Finally: My formula for happiness

New research reported by behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman, shows a fascinating distinction: “money doesn’t buy you experiential happiness, but lack of money certainly buys you [the experience of] misery.”  Check out Kahneman’s TED Talk here.

Kahneman explains that the research from the USA shows people’s moment to moment feelings of happiness increase as their income increases, until it hits a level of $60,000, then it ‘flat lines’.  This means that above that level of income more money doesn’t buy a happier life for the ‘experiencing self’.

But, according to Kahneman, we don’t tend to pay a lot of attention to our ‘experiencing self’ and this is what has confused both economic and psychological research.  We have another self he calls the ‘remembering self’ or the ‘reflecting self’.  This self keeps score, but isn’t good at counting all the individual moments of happiness, so it uses short cuts by counting the changes and significant moments.  Thus, our remembering self tends to be more satisfied with life to the extent that we keep earning more income and we keep achieving goals.

What is the key to happiness for the experiencing self?  Kahneman says that it is primarily comes from “spending time with people that we like”.

For Kahneman the differing measures for the two selves reflect some of the dilemmas for USA and to a great extent Australia:

– some of us don’t have enough income to live on so we experience unhappiness and dissatisfaction

– some of us are experiencing a happy life – living and working with people we love – but on reflection think that we are not “achieving goals and earning more”, so we are dissatisfied with our lives

– some of us are earning and achieving and think we are happy, until our loved ones or employees leave us

– some of us have got the formula right – we aim to earn a modest but always slightly increasing income and we set goals for more and better interactions with those with whom we love, work and serve.

What a fabulous way to live!

Positivity and the Magic Ratio

We’ve got the golden mean and the 80/20 rule.  Now, thanks to Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity, we have the magic positivity ratio of 3:1: if you have at least three positives – thoughts, phrases or actions – for every one negative, your life will change for the better.

Medical, psychological, marriage and business research all seem to be converging on a similar prediction – that high performance teams, partnerships and individuals all have in common a three to one ratio of positives to negatives.

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