The major focus of this presentation is to discuss what I have learned throughout the last nine weeks in Psychology 220. I will summarize each of the topics listed here as they pertain to positive psychology, and describe how I will implement them into my life.
The most important thing that I have learned from this topic was how important attachment style is to who I am as a mother, wife, and daughter. There are several attachment styles which are secure, avoidant, and anxious. The styles development as early as infancy. This is when we learn what to expect from those important people in our lives. I learned that I spent most of my early years with a anxious attachment style, however after recognizing this I did learn to change and become more of a secure person when it comes to relationships. In order to build close relationships I have learned several strategies that I will implement. The first is knowing that I have to take time and talk to those important people in my life. I do not expect them to be able to read my mind, nor do I expect to read theirs. We need to be able to say what is on our minds and tell people what we need and want. In doing this it is quite possible that we will run into problems, and therefore we will need to be able to handle conflict constructively. In dealing with conflict, we need to remain calm, soften your startup, speak non-defensively, and validate your partner. Allowing your partner the time to talk will show them that what they are saying is being heard and that their thoughts are valid. It also is important to show affection to the people you love and care about. I do this actively with my husband. We set aside one night a week that is reserved for date night. We make sure to show physical affection, even just a touch on the hand. It is also important to show my genuine appreciation at least one time each day. Lastly, it is important to create shared meaning. For a healthy relationship, you should develop interests and activities that can be shared as a couple. This will help to strengthen bonds. Having activities that you participate in annually, such as birthday parties and holidays can help to build a shared identity. I have worked this strategy into my life by engaging in physical fitness activities with my husband, and in turn this has trickled down to the relationship with our son. We are a family that works out together and thus we have created shared meaning.
Goals are the target of hopeful thinking. It is important to first identify your goals. Successful people set several goals, not just one. Each goal can be set in every aspect of their life. Such as career and relationships. You want to try and set goals that are difficult, but ones that you can actually achieve. These goals should be concrete and they should be easy to describe to others. I set short-term and long-term goals for my career and relationships, and I re-visit them often to make sure I am on track and see if there need to be any modifications made. After setting goals, it is important to realize the difference between willpower and waypower. Having willpower is important because it is that voice inside of us that says “I can do it”. But waypower is knowing how to cope when things do not go exactly as you had envisioned. You need to realize that there might be things that you can improve upon. Maybe you can study harder or maybe you need to ask for help from an instructor. When it comes to willpower, we can use the strategy of visualizing success. This strategy can help foster willpower. Try to imagine yourself being successful at whatever task you are about to take on. Prior to giving a presentation at work, I tend to picture myself up in front of the audience and being confident doing so. I find that when I start visualizing this success, I actually start practicing sooner because I want to be that much more successful at it. Right along with visualizing your success, it is also important to learn how to be optimistic. You should practice recalling past successes in your life. This will help to pull away from a negative outlook since you have already done it once before. If you did it once, you can do it again. I use this skill when I am at the gym. Instead of walking up to the cardio equipment with that thought of doubt, I recall how I came to the gym last week with a headache and still managed to be successful and finish an hour without stopping. In being hopeful, I have learned that it is also important to keep activities within the community. This is called communal hope. It is helpful to have a strong support network that you can rely on in good and bad times. Those who are less hopeful are characterized by loneliness. Again, I go back to the gym in my example. Those people that show up and meet people to workout are more hopeful than those that go by themselves without any type of support.
Empathy is the ability to recognize and to share feelings that are being experienced by another. In being empathetic, you need to be able to see and feel a situation from another’s perspective. I really think that the ability to do this is closely linked to the danger of making snap judgments. Those people that are more empathetic are less likely to make snap judgments because they know they would not want to be judged the same way. As with almost everything we are learning here, all of this takes practice. Snap judgments are the greatest competitor to empathy. We tend to assume that people’s behavior reflects their traits and overlook their life situations. I have been in the difficult situation of being judged, therefore I tend to refrain from making snap judgments myself. When it comes to empathy, there is empathy for victims and empathy for those who have caused the suffering. Forgiveness is a big key in having empathy for someone who has wronged you. Forgiveness is linked to mental health and well-being. If you are able to foster forgiveness, you will experience less stress, lower levels of negative emotion, and great perceived control. In summary, there are benefits to empathy. When we think about others and their issues, we are less likely to be preoccupied with thinking about ourselves. This in turn allows us to live with a greater purpose. Doing this really puts things into perspective for me. Each day I try to look at what others are going through and realize that my life is really good.
It takes wisdom to realize there is a difference between successful intelligence and emotional intelligence. Being wise means more than being book smart. One needs to be able to perceive, express, understand, and manage emotions. Having emotional intelligence is an important human strength and it allows for more effective functioning in many aspects of life. In order to be successfully intelligent you should be analytical, creative, and practical. Tacit knowledge is also an important component of successful intelligence. This is the ability to know how to do something rather than knowing what to do. It requires a greater scope of thinking. Yes, it is true that all of these contribute to wisdom, but there is more to understand. There are behaviors that top the list of people with wisdom. These are reasoning abilities, human understanding, learning from experiences, superior judgment, efficient use of information, and accurate perspective. Learning to be wise is not easy. But it can be achieved. I have learned that I need to be open to experiences and accept that life is ever changing. I have also learned to look at situations from other points of view while also looking at them analytically so that I can be efficient in my problem solving.
I find that I am more committed to something when there is meaning behind it. It is not enough to find enjoyment in doing it. For example, I am not pursuing my college degree simply to make more money. I have come to the point in my life that I need to find meaning in my career. I know that I love helping people and I have a passion for it. I know now after many years of working, that it is more about fulfillment that money. In deciding on my actions, I realized I needed to enact on those commitments. I needed to stop just thinking about what I wanted to do, but rather just jump right in and start. Psychologist recognize that not only does belief shape behavior, but behavior shapes belief. In being committed it helps to go public, meaning tell people what your plans are. This makes you more accountable for your actions. We want to appear consistent to ourselves as well as others. I have used this strategy in several areas of my life, such as eating healthy and going back to school. I know that if I stray, someone will call me out on it. In addition to enacting and going public with your commitments, you may need to set priorities. It is important to recognize that some things might take priority over others. For example, I know that I am pursuing my college degree, but at the same time I want to stay fit and healthy. Therefore I make time for exercising my mind and body, as well as doing my school assignments. During this entire process it is healthy and important to maintain hope. This will be necessary when we run into temporary setbacks. The way we interpret negative events is an important role in staying committed to our goals. In my life I try not to let one bad grade get me down. I know that overall I am doing a good job. While all these tactics are helpful in staying committed, it is also helpful to use structured, voluntary activities. Participating in structured activities shows higher levels of self-esteem, feelings of control over one’s life, lower rates of delinquency, and higher educational aspirations. It is because these activities usually have constraints, rules, and specific goals that helps us overall in life with other commitments.
Everyone wants to experience happiness. However, there is a difference between well-being and being well-off. People should steer away from looking to their possessions as their meter of happiness. People with the most financial success have problems just like everyone else. Try to be happy for the moments in life that cannot be purchased. When people are unhappy, they tend to be comparing themselves with others. Although it is healthy to want to be successful in life, try not to compare yourself with someone too far ahead of you. Instead, try to compare yourself with someone less fortunate. This will help you realize that you are more fortunate than you once thought. As you are comparing yourself with others, you will notice that you might have moments that are up and moments that are down. Another important strategy is to discover your flow. It is helpful to pay attention to your own body and mind. Realize how we feel doing certain things during our day. A helpful tip is to keep a journal of activities and note how you felt doing them. This will help you find which activities really bring you happiness. Some of those things might be a hobby. It is healthy to find a hobby that is meaningful. One that is more mindful. I know that I tend to be happier engaging in an activity with my son, than sitting on the sofa watching television. Another way that brings people happiness is by volunteering. Doing this will turn attention from yourself, and towards others. This can increase your meaning in life, if you feel like you are doing good for others. And lastly, finish what you start. This again is something that takes practice. The thought has crossed my mind before to stop pursuing my college degree. I know I am making myself happier in the long run because I can finally have a career the is fulfilling. I might get frustrated along the way, but I know I will feel better about myself as I strive for excellence.
In looking at the topic of self-respect we need to first look at self-concept. Taking time to reflect on who we are. I have learned that my self-concept has and can impact my present perceptions and my future goals as well as the memories I carry. Self-concept is not only what we think about ourselves, but what we envision the future to be. Culture can also be an impact on our self-concept. While the United States promote the idea of being an individual, there are other cultures that tie people to others in their surroundings. These thoughts directly impact our daily actions and can impact our goals. Knowing who you are is one thing, but another important aspect is knowing how you feel about yourself. This is called self-esteem. People who feel good about themselves are less shy, lonely, and depressed. They are also happier, while people with low self-esteem can be linked to failure in school, substance abuse, and eating disorders. However, there is such as thing as having self-esteem that is too high. This is why it is so important to practice humility. People should be able to accurately recall their achievements, know that they can and will make mistakes, be open to new ideas, be able to forget one’s self, and also be able to appreciate that all people hold some value in this world. Some tools to help forget one’s self, or practicing forgetfulness, I have learned and try to implement on a daily basis. I realize that I might have suffered from a negative self-concept, therefore I recognize that this may not reflect reality. I have used positive self-talk to replace the negative thoughts that have presented themselves in the past. Another important strategy I learned is to laugh at myself. I realize that arrogant people have no sense of humor about themselves. I know that I am a productive member of society and I contribute each day, but I have to understand that if I make a mistake or if I cannot finish a particular task, the world will not fall apart. The key is to not take yourself too seriously. Most importantly, and one strategy that I try to teach my son is the ability to focus beyond yourself. When you have a healthy self-respect you spend less time thinking about yourself. My son and I try to spend time helping others, whether it is a family member or someone in our neighborhood. This art of focusing our attention on others allows us to forget about ourselves.
I have learned that there are many aspects to Positive Psychology. Knowing about my attachment style helped me realize how it affects the way I interact with my family, and in turn has helped me realize that I can change it. Knowing that I will get as much out of the relationship as I put into it. The ability to be hopeful will help me achieve success in my family life and work life. Knowing how to be empathetic and knowing that just because someone is book smart does not make them wise. In order to find true happiness, I listen to my body, stay committed to my goals, and realize that things are more important than me. Knowing to make the right decisions based off of wise choices will help me be more successful in life.
Conclusion• Love can be achieved by creating shared meaning and knowing you attachment style.• Hope can be brought about by visualizing your success and being optimistic.• Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s situation.• Wisdom is a combination of successful intelligence, emotional intelligence, and tacit knowledge.• Commitment is about looking for meaning in your goal, setting priorities, and following through.• Happiness is knowing your body and mind and what makes you peaceful.• Self-Respect is taking inventory of who you are and how you feel about yourself, and the ability to think beyond yourself.
Resources• Bolt, M. (2004). Pursuing human strengths: A positive psychology guide. New York: Worth Publishers.
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