Archive for March, 2011

Goal Setting

Is there a certain health behaviour that you’d like to change. Perhaps it’s doing more of something healthy or less of something unhealthy. More exercise? Eating breakfast (if you don’t already, you should! It’s the best meal of the day.)? Quitting smoking? Cutting back on caffeine?

Have something in mind? Well, wanting to change is actually the first step! Without the desire to change, there’s no sense in trying to change according to psychologist James Prochaska. Basically, his theory posits that people go through stages in order to adequately reach their goal of change. It involves contemplation (thinking of the benefits of the change), preparation (thinking of the difficulties of the change and setting goals), action (implementing change), and finally, maintenance (taking steps to prevent going back to your old ways).

With this in mind, for last week’s Positive Psychology Challenge each of us in the class had to choose a health behaviour that we either wanted to increase, decrease, or start doing.

What did I choose?

Here’s the thing; I love eating fruit. But I don’t eat enough of them. I always pack at least one or two fruit in my lunch/supper for school/work. However…when I’m home, fruit is not my go-to snack. I justify not eating much fruit at home by telling myself that I need to save my fruit for my packed lunches. I wanted to change that and incorporate more fruit into my diet.

It’s important to define goals. I couldn’t just say that I’m going to eat more fruit. What does “more” mean? A cart full of melons or just one extra grape? Goals need to be defined. Therefore I took in to account the amount of fruit that I eat on a typical daily basis, and decided to consciously add one extra per day.

How did I motivate myself? Well, you see, I don’t like wasting food. Wasting food means wasting money. Solution: have more fruit in the house than I normally would resulting in more fruit that could potentially spoil. This caused me to go bananas trying to finish all of it. Apples last forever, but bananas on the other hand…those things can be frustrating to keep on top of. But this allowed me an excuse to bake banana chocolate chip muffins. Maybe that is cheating slightly, but I didn’t count those banana muffins as an intake of fruit. I wish muffins were fruit…

I think I was pretty good at having my one-extra-fruit-a-day. And it was good; I enjoyed it. Fruit is always good! Will I maintain this new indulgence in fruit? Yes, but… I need to do more groceries first. Down to only two apples and I’m planning on savouring them!

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Scientifically Proven Relationship Advice

And it all starts with how you respond to pie…

You might think that the way in which you react to someone’s negative event will determine the quality of your relationship over time, however it has been found that reactions to positive events (accomplishments, good news), are of even greater importance.

Gable, Gonzaga, and Strachman (2007) explain that there are four ways that we can respond to someone’s positive news. Let’s relate the accomplishment to pie, shall we?

Scene: Person A rushes into the room yelling: “I just won a pie eating competition!!!”, how do you, (Person B) respond?

1. Active-Constructive – Praise. Rejoice. Expand. Ask questions.
Person B: “That’s awesome! All that hard work expanding your stomach has finally paid off! When’s your next competition? I’d love to be there to cheer you on!

2.Passive-Constructive – Unenthusiastic praise.
Person B [smiles]: “That’s nice, dear.”

3. Active-Destructive – demeaning the accomplishment
Person B: “Wow, are you sure you want that title? You must have ingested a million calories, do you think you’ll get fat?”

4. Passive-Destructive – Completely passes over the accomplishment and focuses attention on themselves or other things
Person B: “I like pie. Did I ever tell you of the time that I ate a lot of pie? Man, it’s such an intense story…” [continues on with story]

You can probably guess that the active-constructive response is the best one to engage in, and is related to higher relationship satisfaction.

So the next time your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/friend says “I won a pie eating competition!!!”, “I created a cure for cancer!!!”, or “I just climbed Mt Everest, and I’m finally backkkk!!!”, you now have scientific information that has been statistically proven to assist you in refraining from saying a mere “That’s nice.”

How do you react when someone tells you good news? Do you always engage in one type? Or do you tend to act differently depending on the person relaying the news?

Each one of us in my class had to figure this out. So last week as part of our positive psychology challenge, we had to evaluate our reactions and discuss situations in which we engage in active-constructive ways of responding.

The following are some of my observations. And keep in mind, this is all very subjective. It would be interesting to see how others perceive the way in which I interact with them. So, if you want to weigh in, go for it!

I think I genuinely rejoice in others accomplishments.

One of our housemates came home with some pretty exciting news this week so each one of us in the house took turns rejoicing in her accomplishment and showered her with questions of genuine interest.

Sometimes however, you must make sure that your enthusiasm does not come across as fake and sarcastic. If you become more excited then the person telling you the news, it can get awkward. So I think a good gauge is to match the other person’s level of excitement.

BUT this is totally different in other situations. I noticed this while at work (I’m a support worker for individuals with developmental disabilities). This past weekend, one of the guys informed me that he had just learned how to make tea this week. He was beaming with pride and went on to show me all the types of teas he had made. I had absolutely no trouble at all letting him know how proud I was of him as well as tell him how capable I know he is in learning new things. And I felt as though this was an appropriate situation where I could over exaggerate my enthusiasm and it wouldn’t be interpreted as fake. He doesn’t always have the highest self-esteem, so although he was excited for himself, he also needed to hear it from others. I also noticed that after praising him, he felt more accomplished and sure of himself.
And with that, we moved on to learning how to make hot chocolate!

With his newfound confidence in the kitchen, pretty soon he’ll be baking pie in no time…

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Have I shared this with you yet?

What do you love? What are the things that you cannot silence yourself about? It seems that when we love something we want to tell others about it in hopes that they will come to feel the same way, loving it just as much as we do. Whether it be a TV show, a movie, a restaurant, an idea, vacation spot, we can go on talking for hours and are baffled when others don’t quite understand why we’re so passionate about it. I mean, some people wonder why I love cereal so much. Well, let me tell you! [kidding! that will be left for another post…if I ever get to talking about meaningless things]

When we love something we want to convince others to feel the same way so that they can get the same enjoyment out of it.

I’ve noticed that I’ve begun sharing my love for blogging with others. I’ve introduced the concept of blogging to numerous friends on the grounds of it being an excellent form of self-expression. I’ve also provided them with numerous tips that I have learned throughout my years as a blog stalker and my short time as a blogger in hopes to convince them to begin their own.

Works like a charm. So far, I have influenced at least 5 people to begin blogging and another one to return to blogging. And it doesn’t stop there. Those who I have converted to blogging have encouraged others to begin blogs as well. A blog beginning chain reaction is now starting. It’s blog multiplication. You’re welcome, WordPress.

Then I thought to myself: I love God. I love Him more than I like blogging. But when it comes to those who don’t know Him, I share about Him less than I talk about blogging to those who don’t blog. Something is wrong with this picture.

What if I were to talk to my friends about God in the same enthusiastic, free, and confident way that I speak to my friends about blogging? I am passionate about God and my faith in Christ affects every aspect of my life. Why wouldn’t I want to talk about that? Jesus has made such an impact on my life. He makes me feel so much better than blogging could ever. There are so many instances that I can share about how He has made my life more interesting and exciting. Why wouldn’t I want to share that so enthusiastically?

And if I shared about Him more, perhaps others would want to experience the same joy that I have found in Christ. And in turn there would be spiritual multiplication occurring as they share with others.

If I have yet to share about Jesus with you, I am sorry. But don’t let me get away with it. Ask me about how Jesus has changed my life. I’ll enthusiastically tell you. And I’ll also tell you how you should begin blogging too … although, Jesus is infinitely more exciting.

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Life with HD (Episode 2)

Well, HD is a hit. Her quotable words produced much laughter last week and thus she has given me the go to post more (she enjoys the prospect of fame, I presume).

Sometimes I wish that I could be home more often so that I could fully enjoy her and all she has to say. Here are only some from this week. Believe me, there are more.

HD: Today I thought I went deaf in one ear because I couldn’t hear my music. Turns out it was ’cause my left ear bud stopped working.
Me [laughing]: What? How long did it take you to realize this?
HD: Ummm, about an hour or so.

HD: Six degrees of correlation!

NK: What would you do if Taylor Swift came to our house?
HD: I’d make her butter chicken!!!

TN: Us housemates need to have a picnic!
NK: With candles!
HD [in a very serious tone]: No. No candles. That’s a fire hazard.

Me: Want to hear what I wrote for class about my adventures in Panama?
HD: Yeah sure.
Me [reading my Spanish assignment]
HD [interupts 5 sentences in]: Wait. That’s NOT English!

HD: Awesomeosis – when awesomeness goes from high concentration to low concentration.

HD: One day I’m going to make sense to everyone.

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Maximizers and Satisficers

During Reading Week, our class’ positive psych challenge was related to decision making. We discussed in class how, when making decisions, people tend to be maximizers or satisficers. Maximizers are those who seek out all possible options before making a decision in an attempt to make the best decision. In contrast, satisficers are those who may not spend countless hours searching for the best option, but they find one that is good enough.

The problem is that maximizers tend to be less satisfied with their decisions; they constantly fret about how they could have made a better decision. Whereas satisficers, may not have gotten the best, but they are still very satisfied.

In class, we came to the conclusion that individuals are not confined to one type of decision making and can exhibit one or the another depending on the situation.

How do you approach decision making? Which situations are you a maximizer or a satisficer?

At first, I suspected myself as a maximizer because I tend to think through many of my decisions. However, upon further reflection I realized that, in general, I’m a satisficer. I don’t usually regret my decisions, nor do I ruminate on the decisions that I should have made; I tend to be satisfied with many of my decisions. I will take time to think of what I want and what I’m looking for in an outcome, but when I find something that fits this description, that is enough to satisfy me. Maybe I tend to limit my options sometimes, but why would I seek out something better, that may not even exist, if I’ve found something good?

On the other hand, on a smaller scale, I tend to me a maximizer. In the grocery store, for example, I don’t just pick any good looking apple. I scan, seek out, and select the ones that are most without blemish. Or when I buy a book, I seek out the one that is in the most pristine condition. Who wants to read a book that is not in mint condish? (Unless it’s a very old book  passed down from generations and subjected to wear and tear – which makes it even more intriguing to hold). These selections take more time than if I was satisficing – but really, in the grand scheme of things, maximizing in this situation only requires a short amount of extra time.

But is it possible to be both a satisficer and a maximizer at the same time in a single instance?  I’m wondering this because in many other occasions where it is necessary to seek out the best option, I feel as though I am still satisfied with the decision that I make. Don’t think I’ve ever regretted an apple that I chose.

The textbook suggested to go shopping and limit yourself to certain arbitrary restrictions: visit only two stores, spend less than 15 minutes making a purchase, buy only items that are blue. And then make these decisions irreversible, for instance, by going to a store with a no-return policy.

The only things that I set out to purchase that week were fruits and veggies. And if I chose to restrict myself to abiding by these restrictions and not make my own, I would be limited to the purchase of blueberries. And come on, we all know those are sadly out of season.

Because purchasing fruits and veggies is, hopefully, a purchase that requires little thought, I didn’t find it fitting to use these restrictions. Therefore, instead of purchasing items as the textbook suggested, I decided to apply these concepts into how I chose activities that I would be spending time on. After all, as the saying goes: time is money.

This Reading Week, I piled into a car with four other friends for a fantastic mini road trip. The city that we visited for the weekend was holding a winter festival with countless activities. We got a pamphlet and soon realized that there was SO much to choose from. We could not do it all, let alone even 10% of it. So we had to work with the time that we had. But because our time was precious, we also weren’t going to spend hours mapping out the best possible route to all the best possible exhibits and activities. So we all briefly looked at the pamphlet, picked out a few things of interest, made sure everyone was game, and off we went. And although we still had the pamphlet, I wasn’t interested in looking at what else I could have gone to. Why would I when I could be spending time anticipating what I would be going to.

And we ended up doing so many fun activities! Arts museum, ice slide, fireworks, Ferris wheel, science museum, planetarium. Not to mention everything (minus the arts museum) was FREE! And it also helped that all of these attractions were opened to the wee hours of the morning. Who can say that they were at the Planetarium gazing up at “stars” at 2 in the morning?! It was awesome.

Since time is irreversible, our experiences could not be returned. And I’m glad for that! On a side note, wouldn’t it be weird if our experiences could be wiped from our memory for what we think will be better ones?

One of the best things that this exercise stresses is to be grateful for what you have. A very important reminder indeed.

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