Words with more meaning

Susan Perry’s recent positive psychology article inspired me to write this post. Her article was sparked by Tim Lomas’s research. Lomas is a psychologist at the University of East London.

Different cultures have many words that are not directly translatable to words in the dictionary-1149723_960_720English language. Some of the words are used to express very positive, specific feelings or conditions. A common belief in the study of languages is that if we value something we label it, so simply having these positive words as part of a language may speak volumes about that culture, what it values and how it perceives the concept of well-being. Lomas’ research is exploring these ideas and more.

Reading through the list of positive words Lomas collected made me stop and think about what words I would like folks to use when describing me. Those thoughts led me to think about how I want to be remembered by others, which made me realize I need to pay even more attention now to how I communicate with and treat others.

I also was struck by the beauty and depth of feeling these positive, descriptive words evoke.  Here are some of those words that I thought were wonderfully special and would love to be part of my life and how others describe me . . .

Ubuntu (Nguni Bantu): the culturally valued notion of being kind to others on account of one’s common humanity

Orenda (Wyandot Iroquoian): the power of the human will to change the world in the face of powerful forces, such as fate

Kào pu (Chinese): someone who is reliable, responsible and able to get things done without causing problems for others

Suaimhneas croi (Gaelic): a state of happiness encountered specifically after a task has been finished

Fargin (Yiddish): to glow with pride and happiness at the success of others (often family members)

Nakama (Japanese): friends whom one effectively considers family

Kombinowac (Polish): working out an unusual solution to a complicated problem, and acquiring coveted skills or qualities in the process

Hoadult-18792__180w do you want to be described? How do you want to be remembered? What one thing could you do today to move closer to the you, you want to be?

Click here, if you would like to read the article that inspired this post. Click here, if you would like to read more about Lomas’ “positive lexicography project” .

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Dialing down your fear meter

Something to think about . . . from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now . . .

“The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger.”

Hmm. “The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger.”

How many times are we in real life or death or scary situations, and how many times do we create them in our minds?

“It [fear] comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.” (The Power of Now)

When you catch yourself raising your fear meter by imagining negative or disastrous outcomes . . .

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Note that the situation you are thinking of is scary to you – “Wow, I’m more worried about this than I realized.” (Be honest with yourself; keying in and admitting you are afraid can quickly reduce the stress you are feeling by interrupting your negative thought process.)
  3. Take another deep breath.
  4. Do something physical to switch gears. Move! Get up. Stretch. Rollover. Sit up. Walk away. Turn around or shimmy, shake, hop, skip or jump yourself away from your fear. :-) (Making yourself smile, never hurts.)
  5. Repeat as necessary, and don’t be discouraged if you have to repeat these steps often, because that means you are serious about change!

MH900387812Later when you aren’t worrying about the topic, you can review the situation by brainstorming your options, assessing your strengthsrecalling pass successes dealing with tough situations – and why they worked, predicting a positive outcome (Try it, it can work wonders.), and then you can decide how, or if,  you need to deal with the situation.

But for now, learning to interrupt your thought cycle is all you need to do to dial down your fear meter and gain some peace of mind!

Gain “The Happiness Advantage” in just 21 days!

Positive Psychology studies show happy, positive people are healthier and enjoy more creativity, success and have better relationships. Are you interested in adding more happiness to your life? Would you like to gain a “Happiness Advantage”? If so, keep reading to learn about Shawn Achor’s 5 Steps for creating your Happiness Advantage and to get a free copy of my Wishful Thinking Works tracking sheet to make the process just that much easier!

Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor “graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and earned a Masters degree from Harvard Divinity School in Christian and Buddhist ethics. For seven years, Shawn also served as an Officer of Harvard, living in Harvard Yard and counseling students through the stresses of their first year. Though he now travels extensively for his work, Shawn continues to conduct original psychology research on happiness and organizational achievement in collaboration with Yale University and the Institute for Applied Positive Research. . . . By researching top performers at Harvard, the world’s largest banks, and Fortune 500 companies, Shawn discovered patterns, which create a happiness advantage for positive outliers—the highest performers at the company. Based on his book, The Happiness Advantage (2010 Random House), Shawn explains what positive psychology is, how much we can change, and practical applications for reaping the Happiness Advantage in the midst of change and challenge.”

Shawn understands “The Happiness Advantage” and has created “The 21 Day Challenge” to help each of us get started on a positive future. The 5 steps of the Challenge are free and easy to do. (Please note: Shawn’s notes are in bold and are from a Huffington Post article he wrote in 2011. My notes are in italics.)

1)    Bring gratitude to mind

Write down three new things you are grateful for each day . . . Research shows this will significantly improve your optimism even six months later, and raises your success rates significantly.

You’ve probably heard it from Oprah and by now from dozens of other sources, but do you do it? If not don’t worry, you can start today. For more info on gratitudes and savoring them, click here, here, and here.

Here is a bit more from a Shawn Achor interview about why it works . . . “What they’re training their brain to do is to scan the world, not for the stresses, hassles, and complaints first, but actually training their brain, like an athlete, to look for the things that they are grateful for.  Now, you might assume that that advantage might only help them for about 45 seconds after writing down these three things that they are grateful for, or saying them out loud.  But what we found that after a period of 21 days, the pattern gets retained in the brain, it’s what I call the Tetris Effect where if an individual plays Tetris for five hours in a row, their brain retains this pattern where even when they’re not playing Tetris, it’s still parsing the world into how do I make straight lines, which is exactly what you do in that video game.”  

2)    Focus on the Positive

Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours.  This is a untitledstrategy to help transform you from a task-based thinker, to a meaning based thinker who scans the world for meaning instead of endless to-dos.  This dramatically increases work happiness.
This step really helps you key in on why something matters to you and can help you truly understand what makes you happy. Take time throughout the 21 days to review what you wrote about and see if there are any patterns emerging. 

3)   Exercise

Exercise for 15 minutes a day. This trains your brain to believe your behavior matters, which causes a cascade of success throughout the rest of the day.

In a TED Talk Achor mentioned 15 minutes of cardio a day, which is I shoot for since it gives the most bang for its buck – BUT getting into the habit is the most important part, so if you need to start with 10 minutes, do it! Walking, stretching, working with weights, go for it!  No matter what you start with, get started and keep at it until the 15 minutes of cardio is a regular habit.  Exercise increases your mood by increasing the amount of endorphins and decreases cortisol levels – the stress hormone. So any exercise is a good thing, but remember 15 minutes a day, of cardio will have multiple pay-offs.

4)  Meditate

Meditate for two minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out.  This will help you undo the negative effects of multitasking. Research shows you get multiple tasks done faster if you do them one at a time.  It also decreases stress and raises happiness.

Two minutes makes a difference! If you are meditating longer, keep it up. If you aren’t meditating at all or never have, get started by thinking about one of your positives/gratitudes and why it mattered to you and then simply close your eyes, breathe in through your nose, out through your nose, in long, slow, deep, belly filling breathes . . . and release . . . and inhale . . . and exhale . . .

I call this Step “Take 2”; it’s amazing how refreshed you will feel, and it can quickly become a healthy habit. Use it as many times as you like throughout the day. I love to “Take 2” before I start a new task, and find it particularly refreshing before meetings, presentations, and working with clients. It helps me focus and really enjoy the moment and to redirect my energy exactly where I need it!

5)  Send A Positive Email

Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team.  This significantly increases your feeling of social support, which in my study at Harvard was the largest predictor of happiness for the students.

If you aren’t working, or run out of folks to email, no problem, share the love by including friends, family members or people from your past you think of, but have fallen out of touch with. The key is to reach out to those you care about in a detailed, positive way. And, if you are working, remember your “team” can include colleagues in your department or beyond, vendors, customers, etc.

Here’s the really great news about Achor’s 21 Day Challenge you can add all 5 Steps to your life for 21 days, or you can start by simply adding 1 Step to your life for 21 days, and then try another each new 21 day period! The choice is yours. And remember, any step in the direction of happiness will give you an advantage!

To make the process even easier I’ve created “Your 21 Day Happiness Advantage” tracking sheet. To receive your free copy, simply fill out the form below and I’ll email a copy to you. (Don’t forget to share this post with your family and friends so they can gain the Advantage, too.)

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The perfect one-liner

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Remembering friends real and otherwise

Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful Thinking Works Reading Characters

Have you ever read a book where the characters were so real that you missed them when their story ended? Or, found yourself thinking about them days after you’ve closed the book on their lives?

I love that feeling. It’s warm and fuzzy, and a lot like a good friendship.

Why not take a moment this week to let your real friends know how much they mean to you? Send a special FB message, write a short email, send a card, or pick-up the phone. It will only take a minute or two, and will no doubt make their day and yours. Positive psychology research shows that maintaining relationships is an important part of a happy life. In a variety of studies close, confiding relationships were correlated with happiness and well-being.

Friendships matters. People feel better and do better when they have at least a few people in their lives they can trust and confide in. Sounds elementary, but the truth is, many folks are walking around the playground of life without anyone to play with, and they’re not as happy as they could be!

If you want to do a bit more to show someone in your life how much you appreciate them, consider writing them a gratitude letter. It’s free, doctor-tested (Ph. D. Docs, that is), and taught in positive psychology classes at universities around the world! I’ve adapted this practice a bit for Mother’s Day and will be sending a dear friend’s Mom a note thanking her for raising such a wonderful daughter. Last year I received a sweet FB message from a friend wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day and sharing what a good Mom she thought I was; I will never forget her kindness or her thoughts. Get creative and enhance your relationships!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some great summer reads. I recently finished Sherri Coner’s “Forever the Willows”  – it’s all about friendships, and I’m still missing Jen, Babby, Ivy and Bizzie!

Other Wishful Thinking Works posts you might enjoy . . .

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For Wishful Thinking Works services that can enrich your life, click here.

A poetic snapshot of well-being

Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful Thinking snapshot of well-being 2

 

 

 

 

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

François-René de Chateaubriand

François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand was a French writer, politician, diplomat and historian. He’s considered to be the founder of Romanticism in French literature.

I love Chateaubriand’s quote, it captures the essence of well-being and four of the five pillars of PERMA the positive psychology acronym for flourishing by combining fun, flow, and fulfillment with accomplishment. Add some rewarding relationships and you will positively flourish!

Being different . . .

Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful Thinking Different can be good Being different can be beautiful.

 

Don’t be afraid to stand-out in a crowd, among your friends, or in your family.

 

Trust yourself, and see what happens.


 

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Instead of either/or

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