1. Choosing a Value Driven Life

    September 27, 2014

    Choosing a Value Driven Life There is a powerful attribute housed within all of us: we know it as self-confidence. We all have it. Some to a greater or lesser degree than others. If you look closely enough, you can see it at work in the decisions or choices we make.

    Lacking Self Confidence

    Depending on self-confidence, people can lead their lives in one of three ways. You can see self-confidence at work in those who live their lives without doubt and questioning. Then there are others for whom life is filled with an abundance of self-doubt. They seem never to be fully comfortable with any decision. That leaves a third group, a majority those living day to day, often in doubt while at other times very clear about what they should do or how they should behave.

    Although this first group is smaller in number it is a force to be reckoned with. Its membership is made up of those with high levels of self-assurance. So much so that they can seem at odds with others; arrogant, rigid, always right. Within this group you will encounter those driven by purely altruistic motives and a handful who are diagnosable as sociopaths.

    In our second group are those people who never seem quite sure about their interactions with the world. More often than not they are very capable of making good decisions, although they falter as though they haven’t a clue about their decisions.

    Which brings us to the last group. These are people who, for a multitude of reasons, seldom are confident in their own decisions. Life is experienced as many forks in the road and they are there without a map. Much of their time spent is spent in self-doubt, wondering if the choices they have made are right or wrong. Questioning the past and asking, how would the outcome be different if only I had chosen differently?

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  2. How to Maintain Positive Thinking Even When Being Criticized

    May 10, 2014

    How to Maintain Positive Thinking Even When Being Criticized

     

    Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen have written a book that offers a sensible approach to anyone who wants to enjoy a more meaningful life. Their book examines the ideal response to give to any type of constructive criticism.  The book’s primary message concerns the recommended thinking for the recipient of such criticism. According to Stone and Heen, that recipient ought to focus on thinking positively.

    The opening phrase in that book’s two-part title highlights the nature of the recommended response. Here is that phrase: Thanks for the Feedback. In other words, the two authors have put-forward a most unusual suggestion. The two of them have suggested that the target of any constructive criticism ought to be thankful for those decidedly pointed remarks.

    To the average person, that simple suggestion can seem like a huge challenge, especially if the received feedback has been given following performance of an action that was meant to be helpful.  Typically, the act of helping others is viewed as one that can inject more meaning into the life of the person who has chosen to be helpful. Yet, if that offered action has not been appreciated, then it fails to accomplish that goal. It is for that reason, that it becomes difficult to say these two words to the giver of constructive criticism: Thank you.

    The readers of the text by Stone and Heen should learn that remarks that relate to performance of an act do not have to be viewed as demeaning. In fact, such comments ought to be seen as a statement that serves to underline the value of the person who was the target of the constructive criticism. Development of the skill that is known as positive thinking stands as a meaningful accomplishment, one that allows a person to ascertain the sometimes hidden value in clearly-stated criticism.

    The person who has learned how to think positively does not take-on blame for the mistakes made by an entire team. By the same token, the person who has become skilled at thinking positively does not refuse to acknowledge a mistake, choosing instead to shift the blame to others. In both instances, the target of the constructive criticism has failed to examine each aspect of the offered feedback. Usually, the failure to take that approach invites the type of thinking that allows the offered remarks to accumulate unwanted nuances and interpretations, the way a snowball gathers snow, as it travels down a slope.

    That is not a healthy situation, and is one that ought to be avoided. It encourages the belief that a given mistake has managed to bring-on a catastrophe. The person who has formed such a belief has been turned-away from the path that leads to discovery of a more meaningful life.

    Now, while the second half of this text (The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well) does not make mention of advice for the critique-maker, such advice can be found between the books’ two covers. In fact, one piece of advice really resonated with this writer, a grandmother who was once a parent. That one piece of information concerned the ideal means for linking praise and criticism.

    Such a linkage can prove quite useful, when a parent wants a son or daughter to work-on developing certain virtues. Literature that is meant to guide such a parent recommends the praising of a virtuous act, followed by the word “but,” and then a reference to a virtue that must be developed further. According to Stone and Heen, that suggestion was insightful, and it also needs to be altered a bit, in order to get the targeted child thinking in a more positive fashion.

    Notice that in the above statement the praise was followed by the word “and,” rather than the word “but.” The use of “and” aids the formation of a more positive-sounding comment. It helps to open the door to realization of the fact that the person targeted by that particular comment remains valued. Such a realization then aids formation of the type of thinking that allows a person to continue to make progress on the road that leads to enjoyment of a more meaningful life.

     

     Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sahdblunders/7566255092

     


  3. How Can You Live Your Life in the Flow?

    April 21, 2014

    How Can You Live Your Life in the Flow?

    by Daniela Aneis

    Flow is a very important concept in Positive Psychology. It was conceptualized in 1975 by researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and it is an important part of the optimal experience. But what exactly is flow? Flow is a state of mind in which we are fully focused on the task at hands and time and space seem irrelevant and we feel we can perform the task and it represents a challenge we can face. The pleasure of performing such task derives from an intrinsic motivation, we do it simply because we enjoy it. Imagine this: you love gardening. Whenever you have the time, you go to your garden to do things. You could spend a whole afternoon there and only realize it’s been a couple of hours when it gets dark or someone calls you for dinner. Ever happened to you?

    Why is it important to feel flow?

    People who experience flow often report higher levels of subjective well-being. Whether it is at work, at home, during their leisure time, with friends and family. You may not experience happiness during the experience of flow itself because it would be a distraction, but studies have shown that after performing a flow activity individuals report higher levels of well-being, sense of accomplishment, and purpose and meaning.

    Just so you know, flow experiences have been reported in reading a book as being more engaging than watching TV. So you might want to think about reducing your TV watching hours and devote your time to other activities.

    Positive psychologists advocate that a full life is a life where we are truly engaged, aware, and fully involved in our lives. And isn’t a flow an involving activity? So flow can be a really important part of finding your “happiness”.

    How can I identify a flow experience?

    According to Csikszentmihalyi’s years of research the experience of flow is quite universal and it has distinct characteristics from other types of experiences. But first we should, as the author did, distinguish the flow experience from the popular “go with the flow”. Going with the flow refers to a spontaneous attitude of letting things happen and not contradict the events in place. On the other hand, flow experiences are chosen (by us) and involve using our skills, concentration and perseverance. We choose to do sports instead of working around the house, we choose to do volunteer work instead of going out partying with friends. Not that these experiences are mutually exclusive, just serve as examples.

    So what makes a flow experience? Csikszentmihalyi (1999) says that two important characteristics must be present:

    1)      People should know what to do moment by moment while performing the task

    2)      The abilities of that person to act match the opportunities for action

    Breaking it down, when experiencing a flow activity you should know what you’re doing and what to do next and have instant feedback. But what makes this a challenging task is that you may have the ability but it still represents a form of challenge for you. If it’s too easy you’ll find it boring, if it’s too hard you’ll soon want to give up.

    Creative activities are easy to spot as flow experiences. Take for instance painters, writers, musicians. Don’t you see them fully engaged in what they’re doing taking the pleasure out of what they’re doing?

    How can I introduce more flow into my life?

    A few tips according to Csikszentmihalyi (1997) from his book on “Finding Flow”:

    • The activity has a set of goals and requires certain actions. Take chess, poker, and any kind of sport. The rules help you set your mind to a flow state because there is no need to question them.
    • You’re fully involved in the challenge. It’s not too hard to overcome but just enough to make you push harder and learn new things. Can you think of anything like that?

    Can you think of anything in your life that represents a flow experience? Just so you know, adults often report more flow experiences at work than during their leisure time. That has to do with the clear set of rules and goals at work. Happiness can be found at work as well.

     

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/james_sickmind/5448335436


  4. Positive Actions for Your Physical and Mental Health

    February 24, 2013

    Enjoy Longer Life

    There are all kinds of hacks out there, hacks to work well in the office, hacks to keep that computer running on maximum capacity, but what about hacks for the body and mind? The answers are out there to promote a longer, fuller life and your emotional and psychological well-being. You don’t need to be a physician or psychologist to understand these.  Most of these answers are common sense and it won’t take a lot of work, but positive lifestyle changes are key.

    Cut out inflammation!

    Inflammation is at the root of numerous health hazards that cause the human body to break down. Heart disease, extreme weight gain, and cancer result from a state of chronic inflammation. Unhealthy life styles that include too much insulin and too much stress mean bad news when it comes to longevity. Add a lack of relaxation, sleep, and activity for a nasty combination. People who lose the battle tend to forget to have fun. The motto should be, “Play hard, eat right, and rest up for another day.”

    Change is good!

    What can we do? Make a positive change for the better. Start eating right and getting exercise. The formula for a longer, healthier life hasn’t changed. Stop worrying, any psychologist will tell you that mental health is a foundation for your physical well-being  Get moving. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise, but physical activity should be a part of our daily regimen. A morning or evening walk is a simple fix. Not only does it promote physical health, it is positive for your emotional health results as well. People have to stress less and enjoy life more. You don’t need to go to psychologist for this, just learn to be in piece with reality. Cut out the smoking, get rid of the processed foods, and sleep well. Indulge in treats now and then, such as a glass of red wine or a piece of decadent, dark chocolate. The rest of the time, eat lean meats, fresh produce, and forget about the junk. Old habits may die hard, but a longer life is worth the effort. Learn the body hacks and live well!

    This health information was brought to you by BestHealthDegrees.com