´ November 2017 -

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November 2017
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November 30, 2017

The psychologist Car Rogers invented a radical new approach: instead of trying to figure out what was true, what the patient was hiding and whether he was getting the full picture, he would just assume from the beginning, that the client was a good person. There was no need to prove anything. Instead the client would get validated for his feelings and was given the space to become a different person. We can borrow this technique and see what happens. Today I want you to assume that every single person you meet is good. If you can’t see the goodness immediately all that means is that it’s hidden from you, not that it’s non-existent. What do you notice that you otherwise wouldn’t have picked up on? How do you feel when treating people that way?

November 28, 2017

Think back to a situation where someone told you about something that went really well for them. How did you respond? I will give you four options:

  1. That’s nice honey.
  2. That’s cool honey, so how did it happen? And then what? Why do you think that?
  3. Anyway what’s for dinner?
  4. Oh man, does that mean I will see you even less? Goodbye work-life balance.

Saying just “that’s nice” is what is known as a positive passive response. Often we think we said something nice but actually we deny the possibility that the happiness can be expanded and shared.

Asking further questions and allowing someone to elaborate on their happy event brings most happiness to both parties. If you are feeling brave you could try it today.

Negative passive means that you immediately distract and not even acknowledge the good thing. It makes people less likely to share things with you.

Active negative means that the event is immediately torpedoed. It’s the most destructive way of responding to someone. If you recognize yourself in this swapping an active negative for a positive response, even a passive positive one, could improve your relationships dramatically.

Take whatever possibility you have today to expand on other people’s successes.

November 27, 2017

People who have deeper conversations are happier than those who stick to the surface. People sometimes wonder about what they should say to make real conversations happen. It is actually less about what you say and more about the environment you create.

Today, without putting the pressure on yourself to have a meaningful conversation, just give some of these suggestions a try: spend more time in one to one conversations than in groups. Groups can be fun but often conversations go to things like who is doing what at the office or some other topic that is superficial enough to not freak people out.

Listen without feeling the need to respond. Often when we think we are listening we are just waiting for our turn to speak. Listen in a way so that you will be able to remember what they said. Then actually think about what they said afterwards because that makes it more likely that you will remember.

Eliminate the likelihood that you will be distracted: plan enough time so you don’t have to rush off immediately. Don’t have your phone in your hand or on the table. Switch off the sound and the vibrate function.

Everything we do speaks silently to other people: one to one time means that you think they are important enough to spend time with. Listening means that you value their perspective. And ruling out distractions says “I don’t want this flow to break unless the conversation has run its course.”

Good luck building lots of little pockets of trust.

November 26, 2017

Today we conclude the body week. We talked about connecting to the joy of moving. We discussed all the things your body is doing right now from cleaning your blood to sending billions of signals. You hopefully tried to find several reasons to move and not just because the doctor told you to. We talked about the stages of self-love and how we can’t jump from hate to love in one step. If you feel self-loathing I hope you managed to confine it to scheduled times like we talked about. We also discussed an alternative way to compare yourself by really getting to the bottom of your thoughts. And finally we touched on how patience, which is particularly hard in our instant-everything world, can make everything better.

Next week we will talk about relationships.

November 25, 2017

We are conditioned to get everything now. While it’s pleasant to live in world like that it can lower our ability to deal with things that take time. We know that patience would be good but we often don’t know how to go about it besides just waiting. If we just wait we zoom in on the feeling that things are not moving fast enough. It’s a frustrating feeling.

Instead let’s acknowledge what needs to happen so the desired change can take place: repetition is a mechanism to prevent one-off events from triggering unhelpful changes. Imagine if we could all lose weight by skipping one or two meals. Sounds great. Except if food is scarce and all your energy reserves instantly drop off. You could die in an environment where food isn’t plenty. Repetition signals to your body that the situation really has changed and adaptation is necessary. Similarly your brain doesn’t let you remember everything you encounter. If it did you would have flashbacks of strangers twiddling their thumbs. It would be hard to sort through all of those meaningless things you saw once to come to the important parts. Patience is easier when you know that the time between you starting and you getting what you want is a necessary part of the process.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

November 24, 2017

If you are interested in happiness and motivation you have probably been told, to not compare yourself with others. You know it makes you unhappy and yet it’s really hard to stop, isn’t it? So let’s try a different way of comparing instead. Next time you think “I wish I had that six-pack” ask yourself why. “Why do I want that six-pack?”. “Because it looks great and I will be happy walking around shirtless. “Who else already has a six-pack?” “Is each and every one of them happy every day?” “Are there other ways to attain happiness in life?” “Are you willing to measure what you eat, adhere to a strict meal plan and work out every single day for the next three years?” “If yes stop and start right now.” “If not why are you wasting your time, instead of dreaming about something you are actually willing to work for?”

Comparison can be many things: it can make us unhappy. It can make us believe we want things we are actually not willing to work for. But it can also signal that something is truly important to us. If it really is, we will not flake out of doing the work.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

November 23, 2017

We are often told to love our bodies. For many people the gap between self-loathing and self-love is too great to take in one stride. Let’s think of it in steps instead: we can move daily self-hate into less frequent self-hate. One trick is to schedule our self-hate. Whenever it comes up when we see ourselves in a mirror we can say the following to ourselves: now is not the time for self-hate. We have scheduled that for tomorrow at 7 pm. At the allotted time actually show up for your self-hate session. You are not allowed to do anything else during that time. While this may sound strange what we are doing is confining our self-hate to a narrow slot in time.

“What would it sound like if I felt neutral about my body?” Your next step is to become like Switzerland: neutral to the core. If this is too hard ask instead: “what does someone sound like who neither hates nor loves themselves?”. If you want you can decorate your mirror with Swiss flags or pictures of cheese to keep you on track.

The next step would be to ask: “what would someone sound like who accepts themselves?” They don’t have to think they are stunningly beautiful but okay with what they are. Try to be accepting of yourself for ten seconds, the thirty and then a minute.

Your body is a great instrument to teach you self-acceptance and maybe even self-love. Use it.

Tomorrow we will talk about constructive comparison.

 

November 22, 2017

Very often we start running or working out for one reason: we want to lose weight or our doctor scared us into submission. When we have only one reason for doing something we are setting ourselves up for failure. If that one thing that we are hoping for doesn’t happen fast we give up. If we don’t drop the pounds or lower the blood pressure it seems worthless.

I want you to move because doing so makes you proud. I want you to move because you enjoy how your inactive muscles sigh in relief at being used. I want you to move because you might meet some cool people you can have a good time with. I want you to move so you are outside more. I want you to move so you can feel truly grateful that your body works, no matter what level you are at. I want you to feel the pride of being able to lift something you couldn’t move two months ago. I want you to keep your eyes open for more and more reasons why the things that are good for you are worth doing. And if that is the case you have a better shot at persevering even if you don’t immediately get the main thing you wanted.

If you never exercise tell Alexa to remind you to do 2 minutes of exercise every day. Nobody, not even the Pope, does not have two minutes to spare. Set a daily reminder.

Tune-in tomorrow for a flash briefing about self-love.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

November 21, 2017

Your body is creating millions of red blood cells right now. Your heart is beating, you are pumping gallons of blood through your system and you are growing skin cells. Your brain is sorting through millions of visual cues and your brain is sending billions of signals. This is not an exaggeration. Your kidney is cleaning your blood and your hair and nails are growing. This is just a tiny fraction of what is going on in your body and most of us never ever think about it unless something goes wrong. Do you realize that even a tiny hitch in all of these processes could cause you serious problems? Even if you are in pain or sick right now there is so much happening in your body that is working great.

I encourage you to think about all of these miraculous things happening right now instead of focusing on what you don’t like about yourself. Don’t give up on trying if it’s hard. You are used to a certain way of thinking about yourself. If you stop you will be like a piano player who stops to play: you get slower, less intense and eventually big parts of negativity fade away.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

November 20, 2017

Welcome to body week. Our body is often viewed through the lens of what others see when they look at us. Let’s kick this week off by taking pleasure in what we can do with our body. Again it’s tempting to judge what we can do by other people’s standards. The great thing is that you can access good feelings right now. If you are fit you might need to do fifty push-ups before you feel that pleasant muscle tingling and increased blood flow everywhere. If you are not very fit you can still do one or even half a push-up. Maybe it’s a brisk walk. Nobody cares. Doesn’t it feel nice? Kids are great role models when it comes to this. They grin like someone has drugged their cookies when they can walk a few steps. Of course you can choose to take it for granted that you can move. I implore you, not to wait for an injury to teach you the great freedom of being able to move.

Ask Alexa to remind you tonight before bed to remember the body positive moments of your day.

Tomorrow we will talk about zeroing in on what we don’t like about our bodies.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

November 19, 2017

This week we talked about developing a growth mindset. You paid attention to all the work people around you have to put in to succeed. Hopefully you experienced the positive effects of that mental generosity. Next we made sure that you enjoy many shots at experiencing happiness instead of putting it off until you reach some specific outcome. By loving the process you have many opportunities to feel good right now. We also talked about the magic expression NOT YET. I haven’t succeeded at this yet. I am not where I thought I would be yet. And finally we discussed the necessity to let go of beating ourselves up and instead quitting well. If you did some or all of these thought exercises I am proud of you. If not I am not proud of you Yet but I know that next week when we talk about the body you will have new opportunities to come along for the ride.

November 18, 2017

Have you ever heard the quote “Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win“? Let’s talk about what would happen if this were actually true: people would still be playing in sandboxes and whipping each other with plastic shovels. Folks carry around a lot of unnecessary guilt about quitting. You don’t have to become the person who never quits. If you want to adopt a growth mindset you want to become good at quitting well. Let’s say you stopped going to the gym. Quitting badly would be to beat yourself up about it. Subconsciously you will associate going to the gym with feeling bad about yourself. This makes it less likely that you will go. Quitting well would be to try out indoor climbing, zumba and under-water rugby. Quitting well means you don’t stop moving even if you don’t go to the gym anymore.

Tomorrow is recap day so if you missed out this week, come back Sunday and listen to a summary.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

November 17, 2017

Many waste precious time lamenting the times we did something wrong. This is actually a convenient excuse to not start with anything productive. Growth mindset on the other hand teaches us, that we get a new shot every day. Even if we have wasted the last couple of decades with a fixed mindset we can start with a growth mindset right now. Don’t get angry at yourself if you catch your mind berating you about the pass. This is a natural outcome that will eventually be reversed if you make a growth mindset your new habit. That means that you strive to make the best with whatever you have instead of giving up because you don’t have enough intelligence, money or well-connected friends. It means that you are mindful of the journey instead of doing things for the outcome only. With a growth mindset failures cause you to re-evaluate and take note of the lessons learned. Why not start today?

Tomorrow we will talk about winners who quit.

November 16, 2017

Wanting to constantly improve yourself is a great mindset except when it keeps you from enjoying your life. The need to always improve, to never stand still and only to be happy once you are the best can backfire. Do you have an activity in your life that you are happy with as it is? One that doesn’t need to be improved although you know exactly what the flaws are? What about a relationship? Growth mindset is a wonderful thing. Just make sure that you are not forgetting to enjoy and savour what you have. Otherwise we are running away from the fruits of our labour.

Tomorrow we will talk about something you get for free.

 

November 15, 2017

Today think about something where you didn’t give up but instead actually learned from the stumbles and failures along the way. What happened? How exactly did you do better next time around? Growth mindset teaches us to learn from everything, even if it did not turn out as planned. With a fixed mindset failure means we are not good enough. Maybe we should quit all together. Growth mindset says “I need to practice more. Perhaps I have to practice differently. I am not good enough yet.” Today tap into the power of NOT YET.

Tomorrow we will talk about growth mindset in overdrive.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

 

November 14, 2017

Do you think some people are smart, others are not and nothing can be done about that? Do you think that talent or some other resource determines who is successful? If the answer is yes I have bad news for you: you lean towards a fixed mindset. The good news is that developing a so-called growth mindset is possible. People with a growth mindset are happier, persevere and are more likely to succeed.

Let’s start working on it right now: today focus on the work people put in to be successful. Even the smartest student has to read the material to excel. The most talented athlete still has to train for years to be in the top 100. Be generous today by acknowledging invisible effort. Notice how your reactions and thoughts change as a result. I believe in your capacity to grow.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

November 13, 2017

Imagine two equally skilled athletes. Which one do you think scores more: the one who shoots three times or 30 times? What if I told you that most people behave like the athlete who shot only 3 times? Very often people value outcomes: the grades, the promotion and the recognition. In this case you can only be happy if you get exactly or more than you expected. Otherwise you will be unhappy. If you value the process you will enjoy reading the books, discussing the material with buddies, thinking the concepts through and working on the proposal. Before the person who only thinks about the outcome has even had one shot at happiness the process focused person with a growth mindset has already enjoyed several moments of happiness. Don’t limit your opportunities for happiness by focusing only on outcomes. Enjoy the ride.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

November 12, 2017

Our brain pretends that there is only one reality out there: the one we perceive. We have evolved this way to make sure we can go about our life without being constantly overwhelmed. The downside is that if our brain is used to seeing the world with a rather negative lens it’s almost impossible to believe that things could be different. It takes effort to change the pathways your brain has created but it can be done. Imagine you had an assistant and that assistant has learned throughout the years what kind of information you react to and what you ignore. Your brain is exactly the same. You can retrain your brain to highlight more about the world that is good and meaningful and less about things that are annoying or sad. This doesn’t mean you ignore negativity. It means you choose wisely to focus only on negativity that you can do something about as opposed to feeling helpless.

If you want to take this one step further you could write some positive things down that you usually don’t pay attention to. When you have a moment, at a red light for example, recount those positive expressions and pay attention to how this makes you feel.

I wish you lots of positive emotions today. Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next?

November 11, 2017

When we think of what would constitute a successful life a lot of it is based on conformity: get the career, the house, the partner and the fancy vacations and you will be happy. Let’s save time and assume that that path to happiness does not work. Instead I would like you to ask yourself these questions:

  • what has made me feel successful, not for a short time but over months or years?
  • what am I most proud of and would like to repeat in my life?
  • what can I do today that brings me closer to those real successes?

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

November 10, 2017

Meaning is constructed. No activity is in itself meaningful. You might think that a doctor surely does meaningful work but if you ask a doctor who has to pump the stomach of binge-drinking party peeps every weekend they might find it profoundly unsatisfying. Similarly there is no job you can think of that somebody is not proud of doing and feels that it’s important. Keeping that in mind what are the most meaningful aspects of your life? Do they get the time they deserve? If not can you prioritize engaging with these things regularly? Meaning can be in absolutely everything: how we spend our money, sustain ourselves, exercise, treat our co-workers or what we value. How can you act in accordance to something you feel is meaningful today?

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.