Certain bodily pleasures are designed to feel so good that you want them to recur, but do positive emotions, such as joy, rapture, interest, and contentment, have a purpose in the same way as negative emotions?
Positive emotions have at least two fundamental purposes. Psychologist Barbara Fredickson has suggested that positive emotions expand our attention rather than focus it (as negative emotions do), and in doing so they foster the growth of physical, social, and intellectual resources, which in turn lead to an upward development spiral. So experiencing joy leads us to want to play and be creative, feeling interested leads us to explore and experience, and feeling contented leads us to savor and appreciate.
The second purpose of positive emotions is that they ‘undo’ the effect of negative emotions and enhance resilience and ability to cope. Humor increases one’s tolerance of pain for example. In another study, participants shown positive and uplifting videos after a stressful event or after watching upsetting videos showed faster cardiovascular recovery than did the control group. And in the aftermath of 9/11 resilient people experienced more positive emotions, which led them to feel increased optimism, well-being, and tranquility as well as protecting them against depression.
~ Grenville-Cleave and Boniwell, Ph.D.
~ Nina Simone
Marva Collins was born in Alabama in the 1930s. Her father was African American and her mother was Native American. She was born at a time in a place where there was a great deal of discrimination.
Fortunately, for Marva, her father really believed in her and said to her from a very young age, “Marva, you can make something of your life. You can become a secretary.” Now the reason why he said secretary is because that was where the glass ceiling, or rather concrete ceiling exists for a person of her ethnic background, a person of her gender. Marva Collins worked hard, she was smart, she succeeded, she made it, and she became a secretary.
After few years of working as a secretary, doing well, she decided this was not for her and what her calling in life. Her real passion was in teaching.
She wanted to be a school teacher.
She went to night school. A few years later, she got her teaching certificate, got married and with her husband moved to Chicago. There she joined the public school system in inner city, Chicago.
The reality that she found, that she encountered there was a reality of much crime, much drugs and more than anything, hopelessness. The hope of the teachers was to keep the students in school for as long as possible. Why? So that they don’t join the street gangs at the age of 12; so that they are protected from the drugs and crime.
“How can we keep the students in school for as long as possible?” asked the teachers.
Marva Collins walks into this reality and says, “Things are going to be differrent.”
She teaches first graders to fourth graders. On the first day of class, she says to her students, “We are going to do a lot of believing in ourselves.” And she repeats this message over and over and over again, like a broken record throughout the semester, and year, and years.
“I believe in you. You can do well. You can succeed. Take responsibility for your life. Stop blaming. Stop blaming the government. Stop blaming your teachers. Stop blaming your parents. It is up to you to succeed.” And she continues with this message over and over and over again. Having really high expectations of her students, looking at what they’re good at, their strength and cultivating those.
Miracles begin to happen. These students, considered by many of the teachers to be ‘unteachable’. These ‘unteachable’ ones by the time that they are in fourth grade are reading Euripides, Emerson and Shakespeare. These ‘unteachable’ ones at the age of 10 are doing high school mathematics.
Now rumor begins to spread about Marva Collins, because how can she keep these students in class for so long, when all the other students are just trying to get out of school? She must be using force.
And Marva Collins has enough of these rumors, leave the public school system, opens up her own school in her own kitchen with 4 students and initially, two of them her own kids.
Gradually, more and more students join the Marva Collins school, Westside preparatory. All the students that intially joined the school are public school dropouts. Marva Collins is the last resort before the street.
And the miracles continue.
Gradually more and more students come in. She has to move out of her home. They wretchedly rent a small shack in Chicago place, freezing in winter, scorching hot in summer. And yet the students are driven by their passion.
And they continue. Miracles continue to happen to them.
Every one of Marva Collins’ students graduates from elementary school. Everyone goes to high school and graduates from high school. Every one of her students ends up in college and graduates from college. Yes, those ‘unteachable’ ones.
Marva Collins lives in a dire poverty for decades, somehow making ends meet. After all, most of her students can’t pay. But somehow, months to months, she makes it.
1979, it changes overnight. A producer, from the television CBS program ’60 Minutes’ finds out about Marva Collins and creates a 15 minutes segment on her. Overnight she become famous.
November 1980, new President elect Ronald Reagan calls up Marva Collins offers her to be his Secretary of Education. Guess her father was right. Marva Collins turns his offers down and says, “I love to teach too much. My place is in the classroom.” Eight years later almost to the day, new President elect George Bush Sr. calls Marva Collins once again, offering her to be his Secretary of Education. Once again, “I love to teach too much. My place is in the classroom.”
In 1995, a wealthy philanthropist donates tens of millions of dollars to Marva Collins. Now there are Marva Collins schools all over the States where thousands of students learn, where hundreds of teachers from all over the world come and see the miracle of Marva Collins.
Today there are Marva Collins graduates who are politicians, business people, lawyers, doctors, and more than anything, teachers. Because they know what their teacher has done for them.
Here’s an excerpt of how she do the “We are going to do a lot of believing in ourselves.”
Here is her book. For those who are interested in teaching and there’s one book you want to read, it’s this. For those who are interested in leadership and there’s one book you want to read, it’s this. For those who are interested in the future of becoming parents and there’s one book you want to read, it’s this. For the rest of you, if there’s one book you want to read, it’s this.
And The Marva Collins Story
If you go to see a therapist or psychologist, what will be the first question he/she will ask?
“What is wrong with you?”
Or if you and your spouse go to see a couple’s counselor, what would you guess to be the first question he/she would ask?
“What is wrong with your relationship?”
Am I having the second right? Right?
Or if you invite consultants to your company (like scenes in House of Lies), what would you suggest to be their ice-breaking question?
“What is your organization’s weaknesses? What do we need to fix?”
Another deja vu?
Those questions above are important questions. You need to know what is wrong so that you can fix them to make them right.
But what if we tweak those questions a little bit. Instead of asking “what is wrong?”, we ask “what is right?”.
“What are the things that going so well in your life?”
“What is going well in your relationship?”
“What are your strengths? Tell me about success stories that we can build on.”
Questions are powerful tools. They can ignite hope and lead to new insights. They can also destroy hope and keep us stuck in bad assumptions.
Whatever the question, the answers reinforce the assumption.
If you ask the WRONG questions, you’ll provide an excuse for why you are not getting the results you want.
If you ask the RIGHT questions, they empower and create new possibilities, they lead to action and they will produce results.
Because it is easier to think “outside the box” and approach problems with a fresh perspective.
Each second, 5 babies are born into this world, two new blogs created, 2.8 million emails sent, 34 trees are cut down in the rainforest and around 2 people will die.
In current fast-paced modern environment, the challenges we’re facing are huge.
Adversities like broken economic system, job loses, resource scarcity, rising prices… the levels of anxiety are growing too.
Sometimes, gradual changes come in putting forward things in a very predictable way. Sometimes, like now, changes can be sudden and disoriented.
“How do I cope?”
“How do I develop my resilience to thrive in these difficult times?”
“The waves are getting bigger, but what should I do?”
“How can I be the catalyst for change?
These questions are common questions one might ask on a personal level, but how can adapting a resilient character helping us in resolving these queries? How can we be psychologically prepared?
Let’s look back at the definition of psychological resilience.
Scientist/psychologist thinks that resilience has at least three different properties.
For example, resilient system could be able to withstand a shock, without losing its basic function.
Another property of resilience is the system might be able to adapt to changing circumstances.
And the third property, resilient system is able to transform to a different way of life when the current is no longer feasible.
Resilience is a character that can’t be passed through genes, it is a character than can be learned.
That’s the great news!
Merriam-Webster defined resilience as; 1. the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress 2. an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.
Material physics defined resilience as the ability of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically, and release that energy upon unloading.
In psychology, resilience can be defined as an individual’s ability to cope with stress and adversity. This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or simply not showing negative effects. A third, more controversial form of resilience is sometimes referred to as ‘post-traumatic growth‘ or ‘steerling effects‘ where in the experience adversity leads to better functioning (much like an inoculation gives one the capacity to cope well with future exposure to disease). Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual.
As story portrays an example better than fancy compositions of words (per above), lets look at a story, The Resilience of David Beckham.
During FIFA World Cup 1998, England was sent off in the second round by Argentina, losing on penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw. David Beckham received a red card in the game, makes him the center of the blame, the villain, by England’s supporter. It was reported that an effigy of him was hung outside of a London pub, the Daily Mirror printing a dartboard with his picture at the center of the bullseye and he’s receiving death threats after the World Cup.
The abuse that Beckham was receiving from English supporters peaked during England’s 3-2 defeat by Portugal in Euro 2000, a match where Beckham set up two goals, when a group of England supporters taunted him throughout the match. Beckham responded by raising his middle finger and, while the gesture attracted some criticism, many of the newspapers that had previously encouraged his vilification asked their readers to stop abusing him.
For a person, having the whole nation against you can be something scary, leading to stress that may break the soul into pieces, ones may doom towards depression, falling out. Although you’re a professional footballer who receive big paycheck, social stress can’t be cured by only money.
However, by 2000, Beckham was promoted to team captain, helping England to qualify the 2002 World Cup finals, including an impressive 5-1 victory over Germany. The final step in Beckham’s conversion from villain to hero happened in England’s 2-2 draw against Greece. England needed to win or draw the match in order to qualify for the World Cup, but were losing 2-1 with little time remaining. During the whole game Beckham fall many times, running in and out, trying to ensure England’s victory. Approaching the final whistle, an opportunity comes, where England were awarded a free-kick and Beckham ensured England’s qualification with a curling strike.
That goal shook the country. That feeling was better than an orgasm. He has managed to turn the page and be a national hero. That is the third controversial form of resilience (as stated above), experience adversity leads to better functioning.
Say adapting something simple in your life. Something simple but good. Something that is fundamentally enlightened your soul, but still simple. The things that are fundamentally simple, but specific. And you do them on a daily basis. (Did my words make these simple things complicated? Oh well, now I got your attention.)
Now grab a journal. Take a few minutes. Write something about the things you are grateful for, over the last 24 hours.
After you’re done with gratification, write something about physical workout that keep you moving and active.
Then write something about meditation you do today. Prayers included.
Finally write something about kindness you do today.
Still wondering? Here’s an example from my log today:
“Gratitude: I’m grateful for having friends that were indeed cheerful and we have some good laughs when hang together. I’m grateful to live in Putrajaya where every weekend there must be something going on. Yesterday we had this ‘walk the talk’ event to show support for World Hunger Relief.
Exercise: I run my usual track and completed the Power Yoga sequence that I’ve been pursuing for quite some days. Awesome!
Meditation: I took some meditation break after prayers 3 times today. Plus, the Power Yoga helps me finding my powerful center.
Act of Kindness: I helped my mom getting her groceries. Makes it easier for her.”
Journal log about good things on a daily basis can help in directing our mind scanning for the good things and the good opportunity ahead. Not ignoring the bad things, but to make the bad things seem obsolete. After all, you create your own future, aren’t you?
Positive Psychology emphasis on the positive side but did not ignore the negativity. Although we can utilize The Tetris Effect for our benefits but misused can be damaging, unaware.
Here’s an excerpt from The Happiness Advantage page 90:
“Over the past year, as I have been working with the global tax accounting firm KPMG to help their tax auditors and managers become happier, I began to realize that many of the employees were suffering from an unfortunate problem. Many of them had to spend 8 to 14 hours a day scanning tax forms for errors, and as they did, their brains were becoming wired to look for mistakes. This made them very good at their jobs, but they were getting so expert at seeing errors and potential pitfalls that this habit started to spill over into other areas of their lives.
Like the Tetris players who suddenly saw those blocks everywhere, these accountants experienced each day as a tax audit, always scanning the world for the worst. As you can imagine, this was no picnic, and what’s more, it was undermining their relationships at work and at home. In performance reviews, they noticed only the faults of their team members, never the strengths. When they went home to their families, they noticed only the C’s on their kids’ report cards, never the A’s. When they ate at restaurants, they could only notice that the potatoes were underdone—never that the steak was cooked perfectly. One tax auditor confided that he had been very depressed over the past quarter. As we discussed why, he mentioned in passing that one day during a break at work he had made an Excel spreadsheet listing all the mistakes his wife had made over the past six weeks. Imagine the reaction of his wife (or soon to be ex wife) when he brought that list of faults home in an attempt to make things better.”
Got the idea? Tomorrow I’m posting my view on Positive Tetris Effect.
On How I Met Your Mother, we saw many words of encouragement on Barney’s office wall. Even on facebook many pages were created giving daily motivation thoughts with the intention to make public spirited. Even in the last post I posted some pictures of words on my bedroom wall.
These are just merely to find patterns in our thoughts and as hard as we could we try to ingest the best great thoughts as possible.
Since the essence of positive psychology is about WHAT WORKS, are these practices works? As promised in this post, I’ll touch on the book that changed my view, The Happiness Advantage, written by Harvard Psychologist, Shawn Achor.
The third principle presented by the book called THE TETRIS EFFECT.
The principle got its name from the tetris game, a deceptively simple game where players rotate and move four kinds of shape that fall from above to the bottom. When unbroken horizontal line of block formed, that line will disappear. Players need to arrange as many unbroken horizontal lines as possible and lose the game when the blocks reach the ceiling of the screen.
The game is SIMPLE, sounds BORING, but surprisingly ADDICTIVE!
“In a study at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, researchers paid 27 people to play Tetris for multiple hours a day, three days in a row. For days after the study, some participants literally couldn’t stop dreaming about shapes falling from the sky. Others couldn’t stop seeing these shapes everywhere, even in their waking hours. Quite simply, they couldn’t stop seeing their world as being made up of sequences of Tetris blocks.” The Happiness Advantage, page 88
While simple game can create patterns in the human mind, hacking them with good things continuously might work creating a better life. That had been explained well in the book. I will write more but won’t reveal everything just yet. If you can’t wait, go get THEM!
Have you had the chance, or really take some time, at least 5 minutes, today, to really look back at your visions and conditions that you’re now in?
In this age of information where things move faster than ever, levels of competition grow too. The challenges became harder and you yourself had to face it no matter what level you’re at. Some people results in doing things over their limit and can only be happy when they reach their goals. Some just doing okay doing things to meet month to month end needs and forgetting the visions and values they hold in their hearts. But to be happy and awesome, and to sustain them, is this enough? Is this the right way to live?
The 5 minutes of reflections are what I call meditation. Those 5 minutes are the times where you’re with yourself, no other association with something else. If you believe in God, these 5 minutes can be your truest devotion of your purest soul to keep you intact, so you as a human can be efficient, facing the world, with visions and desires of your purest soul.
That was the idea but does that really work?
My take is, in meditation, be honest with yourself. REALLY REALLY honest.
Future posts will touch more on this.
Sportsmen hang on to Tony Robbins’ motivational words to go for extra miles. Entrepreneurs use leadership wisdom from Robin Sharma to lead their organization. Realtor study about Donald Trump for their negotiating skills. Investors learn some lessons about investing through Robert Kiyosaki programs. Lessons from The Alchemist about achieving dreams. People using the Silva Method to empowering the ability of their brain. Pictures on Facebook on some unfortunate kids who made their way up through. Friends who is there giving you motivational speech and assure you that you will make it in life.
Nowadays, these things mentioned above are trendy. Somehow I wonder, does these can be measured? If these can’t be measured, how reliable are these teachings are to be used for the masses?
I’ve made more readings and research to answer my questions of reliability and credibility. Until one fine day I stumbled into a book. The book is about POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY (more on that book in future posts).
Psychology is a branch of science (hence the foundation of its credibility). Positive psychology is a new branch of psychology that emerge just a few years back. Unlike most conventional papers in psychology field that focus on problems and how to solve them, positive psychology focuses on WHAT WORKS.
Positive psychology did not deny the importance of setbacks and finding ways to pull the setbacks back to ordinary, but positive psychology too do emphasis on THE IMPORTANCE OF GREAT THINGS, how they can be great.
And this blog is all about PP.