This academic year, CIS has incorporated “positive education” formally into its community, with initiatives involving its entire staff. “We see positive education as a whole school initiative. In fact, the curiosity and the demand of the staff to get on board created the climate for moving ahead with this initiative,” says headmaster, Dr Theodore Faunce, who “does not perceive academic excellence as sole evidence of student success”.
CIS staff are being trained in the principles and practices of positive education and understanding how to coach students in “meta-thinking”: self-identity, self-awareness, and ways in which they can better understand their own emotional landscape.
For training, they turne to Professor Lea Waters of the University of Melbourne. This video below features her speaking on Growing Brains: Capacity, Intelligence and Resilience as part of the Festival of Ideas. She begins speaking at 28 minutes on Mental Health for young children.
Unfortunately, the school website offers little insight to actually waht they are doing. They do have a great list of resources avaiable. Their faculty are constantly adding to it.
“I share therefor I am” Shimi Cohen is a graphic artist who has struck a cord exploring loniness in the age of connection. Nearing a million views on You Tube, the Video addresses the connection between Social Networks and Being Lonely? Quoting the words of Sherry Turkle from her TED talk – Connected, But Alone and drawing inspiration from Dr. Yair Amichai-Hamburgers hebrew article -The Invention of Loneliness, Cohen’s senior project at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. Cohen explores the paradoxical nature of becoming connected with technology which can isolate our natural social instincts. He spent 3 weeks sketching and translating the script into visuals, using Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D to create the 2-D animation.
What does positive psychology teach us about loneliness?
Leverage your strengths:
VIA has been researching the role using strengths in your life and how they impact your mental well being:
Using one’s signature strengths in a new way increased happiness and decreased depression for 6 months (Gander, Proyer, Ruch, & Wyss, 2012).
Using one’s signature strengths in a new way increased happiness for 6 months and decreased depression for 3 months (Mongrain & Anselmo-Matthews, 2012).
The use of one’s top strengths leads to a decreased likelihood of depression and stress and an increase in satisfaction in law students (Peterson & Peterson, 2008).
Using one’s signature strengths in a new and unique way is an effective intervention: it increased happiness and decreased depression for 6 months (Seligman, Steen, Park, Peterson, 2005).
Among high school students, other-oriented strengths (e.g., kindness, teamwork) predicted fewer depression symptoms while transcendence strengths (e.g., spirituality) predicted greater life satisfaction (Gillham et al., 2011).
Grateful individuals report higher positive mood, optimism, life satisfaction, vitality, religiousness and spirituality, and less depression and envy than less grateful individuals (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002).
While the above are not specific to loneliness, you can see the connection between depression and loneliness.
Make meaning in your life
Sam Mullins struggled with finding meaning. A few years ago, he moved to Vancouver to pursue his dream of being a big city writer and actor. So he poured his heart and soul into it. And failed. But one night at work he was challenged to make a tinfoil dinosaur and his life changed…because he shared something authentic with a stranger. It was not always that way:
I have a social anxiety disorder, and an increasingly large hunch-back. I write stories for CBC’s DNTO sometimes. I perform one-man shows sometimes. I have suicidal thoughts sometimes. And then I write one-man shows about said suicidal thoughts.
The backdrop to the story is fascinating as he reflects on it and where it has all led:
I felt like I was the poster boy for everything wrong with my generation. I felt foolish.
My sense of entitlement, my solipsism and my delusional belief that I was a unique and talented person led me to acting school. I had graduated four years later, at great expense to my parents, and then naively stepped out into the big wide world without having the slightest inkling of how to survive. And by the end of that year, I wasn’t against the ropes. I was on life-support.
So, just like that, I was back in my childhood bedroom. I was working a labour job. And I was eating a casserole prepared by my Mother every night. I didn’t know what to do next. I felt like I was lost in the universe.
Sam is doing what Victor Frankl calls making meaning:
“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
For you see, you are always free to choose; perhaps not your experience, but the meaning you give that experience:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Frankl goes on to explain the significance of love in our lives:
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”
By the way, NPR picked up Sam’s story for the Moth
“Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished,” said Emmons. “Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.” —Dr. Robert Emmons
With US Thanksgiving on the horizon (and Canadian Thanksgiving long gone) we turn our attention to gratitude (and Turkey). Gratitude has been shown to have a very positive effect on our wellbeing:
Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
Higher levels of positive emotions;
More joy, optimism, and happiness;
Acting with more generosity and compassion;
Feeling less lonely and isolated.
Have a look at the Happier Huamn for the source of the research, 26 studies and counting. Clearly experiencing and expressing gratitude is a good thing. How grateful are you? The Greater Good Society of UC Berkeley is offer up a gratitude survey:
2. I count my blessings for what I have in this world.
Research has demonstrated that meditation can in fact boost focus and creativity. A 2011 study found meditation to boost both divergent thinking, which helps new ideas to be generated, and convergent thinking, which is linked with effective problem-solving. With more and more research proving meditation’s extensive cognitive benefits, increasing numbers of artists, writers, musicians, athletes and business innovators are turning to the practice to tap into their deepest creative potential.
Every day they will upload a guided meditation for you to join in…a three week journey, so deepak calls it. Cultivate peaceful awareness.
Welcome to the 21-Day Meditation Experience, Desire and Destiny! We are honored you’re joining us on this journey toward living with passion and abundance! You will discover your soul’s purpose and create a life in which all things are within reach, where dreams transform into reality.
There is a whole wack of research supporting meditation for spiritual growth, stress management and general well-being. Here are a few of the 100 benefits listed at I NEED MOTIVATION.
2- It decreases respiratory rate.
12- Enhances the immune system.
13- Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
14- Enhances energy, strength and vigour.
40- Helps with focus & concentration
41- Increase creativity
42- Increased brain wave coherence.
43- Improved learning ability and memory.
44- Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
45- Increased emotional stability.
46- improved relationships
56- Develop will power
61- Increased job satisfaction
63- decrease in potential mental illness
66- Helps in quitting smoking, alcohol addiction
78- Grows a stable, more balanced personality
80- Helps keep things in perspective
81- Provides peace of mind, happiness
82- Helps you discover your purpose
83- Increased self-actualization.
84- Increased compassion
85- Growing wisdom
87- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony
99- Experience a sense of “Oneness”
100- Increases the synchronicity in your life
Check out your current Positivity Ratio – to see how it is today – using this free, quick and easy free test (it’s one that psychologists often use).
Try doing it each day for a week or so, noting down your ratio and see if it changes. What do you think made it change? Do you need to boost your level of positive emotions?
2. Explore your positive emotions
Make a list of ten positive emotions that you can think of. For example, these might include joy, inspiration, contentment, serenity, amusement, pride, interest, or gratitude.
Pick one emotion from your list and then note down things that tend to generate this emotions for you.
Think back to the last time you felt this emotion… what was it that you were doing? Where were you? What was happening around you? What other things could make you feel this way?
What could you do to bring more of this into your life today or this week? Being more conscious of these things will help us to spot opportunities for to experience them.
Now repeat this for each of the other emotions in turn. You may wish to pick one per day or per week, to reflect on.
3. Put together a positive pack
Think of a positive emotion you’d like to feel more of. Collect together things that you associate with this emotion. This could include music tracks, pictures, photographs, poems, lines or quotes from books, video clips, objects that bring back memories etc. Depending what you collect keep these things in a box, online or in a note book or scrap book).
Find a few minutes to spend with your collection reflecting on the emotion you want to feel. Remember the action doesn’t need to be big and feeling the emotion doesn’t need to be earth shattering – a passing moment is fine.
Your pack could also include actions – simple things you can do that you know often bring you that emotion. For example if you want to try joy, you might have listed singing your favourite song at the top of your voice. For serenity it might be a walk in your favourite nearby green space.
4. Keep it up. Mix it up.
Of course there are times when positive emotions come easily and there are times when it is harder. Even when things are tough try to think of something that will distract you for the positive for a moment. And don’t forget to try different actions and emotions – some will work better for each us at different times than others. Have fun!
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
This beautiful speach highlights what Barbara Fredrickson calls Positive resonance…or what the rest of call love.
Barbara has identified 10 positive emotions that will help us Broaden and build our capacity.