Until I heard the mayor of Copenhagen talk about bicycles I used to beat myself up a lot. Like lots of people I loved plans and formulating concrete goals. I could spend hours and hours planning things out, trying to get everything right in advance. Every single year when the time for new year’s resolutions rolled around I would again enthusiastically create step-by-step plans to achieve stuff like cleaning my room, exercising regularly and all the other usual suspects. Plans suggest that change is easy. Just break it down and you can’t fail.
Learning to manage your strengths is not just about doing certain things more often. Before we can do that it is necessary to make space in our life by identifying the things that take energy away from us and doing them less. While people like to take this concept on board with things they don’t like doing that much anyway, sometimes questions arise when tests such as the Realise2 strengths assessment state that ‘gratitude’ or ‘optimism’ is a learned behaviour and should therefore be performed less.
There’s this scene in “How I met your Mother” where Ted wants it to rain so that Robin won’t go camping with a co-worker. He is absolutely desperate and even coerces Barney to convince a girl he has slept with to share the sacred procedure of doing a raindance. Not only do the guys have to be ridiculously persistent to convince the girl, it turns out she has never witnessed it herself, just read about it. He doesn’t care that he has next to no idea whether he is doing it properly.
The downside of a famous Gandhi quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” is that it can put a lot of pressure on you. I don’t doubt that Gandhi was right about this but I observed a curious thing: taking this quote to heart can lead you to freeze.
Just imagine you call the fire department because your house is burning. They arrive with flaring sirens, jump out, put on their gear, go find all the water hydrants and then start reading “The Dummy’s Guide to Fire Fighting”.
How would you feel if someone approached you and said “look I can take you on a journey. I have no idea where we will be going. I can’t tell you whether to pack clothes for the beach or mountaineering equipment. We will have to figure that out on the road. You will likely explore things you have never seen before but maybe some poisonous insect will play havoc on your health. Your friends and family might think you are crazy for doing this and not only should you trust me with your mental health, you should also pay me significant amounts of money for going on this journey with you, despite the fact, that I have no idea, what the outcome of all of this would be.”
Positive thinking is both good and bad for you. One reason why lots of people are skeptical when it comes to positive psychology or using strengths is that they think it’s all about the slogan “Think Positive”. Well it’s not.
I discovered the strengths approach as an overweight nine-year old kid training for my first judo competition. The problem with martial arts is that your opponents are not the kids who have the same level of skill as you but kids with the same weight. Which means that I had to compete against kids who had trained anything from two to four years more than I had. read more …
If you like to read you must have encountered this idea, that the Inuit have between 13-27 different ways of talking about snow. Some say it’s an urban myth while others claim it’s true. At university our lecturer once challenged us to write down all the different ways once could talk about rain. read more …