Posts tagged thoughts

A Change in Identity

April 21st. This date has been engraved in my mind for the past few months. And for the last week, I no longer judged time by the current date, but by how many days rest between the present and the 21st. I had made a countdown on the chalkboard in the lab at the five day mark. It gave my two colleagues and I a sense of urgency, yet excitement at the same time.

I printed my thesis last night, and as I walked through the tunnels and hallways of my university, I realized that this was one of the last times that I would be walking the campus as a student. And as I walked, I realized that I will no longer be a CU student – my identity for the last four years. When people ask me what and where I study, I will no longer say CU majoring in Psychology. That is no longer who I am or what I do. It’s really odd to think. I have experienced and learned so much at that campus, that it is hard to leave.

As I walked, I reminisced the good ol’ days. As I passed each building I recalled certain memories – locations where I used to set up to do readings and study (which always varied from year to year as I discovered better, and sometimes hidden locations), booths and tables that I used to meet up with friends regularly to eat or “study”, areas on campus that I would go with friends to randomly talk to students about their beliefs, the classroom where I had my very first lecture in university, Cardiac Hill (the very steep walkway in the tunnels – essentially a hill beginning at the first floor of a building and taking you to the fourth), going on prayer walks with friends to pray for our campus, and countless others.

I think for me, university was not merely a place where I went to obtain a degree; a means to an end. It was a place of much personal growth. It was a place where I grew in my relationship with God. I became involved with a Christian group on campus where the students had a burden to share their faith with others. I met new people, made lasting friendships, and really adopted the burden that they had for the students on our campus. We invested so much time into loving on and praying for our campus that it became more than an institution.

Today marks the last day of my undergrad. I am finished. I handed my thesis to my supervisor this morning. I had imagined this day for months. I had imagined the excitement that I would feel and the relief that I would experience. But the feelings aren’t as intense as I had imagined. Perhaps it hasn’t quite hit me yet; it’s hard imagining that four years of schooling have come to a close. But maybe I’m also a little reluctant to say goodbye to CU and all of those experiences. Things will change, and I’m definitely ready for it and excited to transition into a graduate program at another university, but it will take some time. I’ll have to remind myself that I am no longer that undergraduate psych student anymore, but a Master of Arts student in Counselling and Spirituality. And that, I am excited for.

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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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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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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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Letter of Gratitude

Writing a letter of gratitude, as we did for our class’ Positive Psych Challenge last week, is harder than it sounds.

There are some things that I don’t like to force, and writing is one of them. I have a hard time beginning to write knowing that it is required of me, even if I have a lot to say. Right away I had a couple people in mind that I wanted to thank and once I chose someone in particular, I knew exactly what I wanted to tell them. However, I found it hard to string together words. Knowing that it was required of me made me feel more apprehensive to begin writing because I didn’t want my words to show that I was writing merely because my prof told me that I had to for an assignment. Nevertheless, I needed to go beyond the requirement of my course and search for intrinsic motivation.

I have not yet received a reply, but frankly, I don’t need one. I would love one, but that’s not the reason why I wrote it. I wrote it to thank the person and to let them know how much they have influenced me in my life; I shouldn’t need anything in return.

I really think people should write letters (or emails, or even Facebook messages) more often to let others know how much they are appreciated. Not that we should do it out of obligation, but out of a genuine desire to let someone else know how we feel.

Try it out. I guarantee it’ll brighten someone’s day.

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Where Happiness Lies

This week’s Positive Psych Challenge for class involved two activities that were opposite in nature:

1. Do something philanthropic – Do something nice for someone else.

2. Do one thing that is purely hedonistic – Participate in an activity that will make you feel good.

I think this week’s challenge was the hardest yet; it required a lot of thinking and also keeping an eye open for opportunities to engage in either 1. or 2. It also required me to define what I personally took each challenge to mean.

I began to think of what doing something for others entailed. This led me to ponder altruism; doing something completely for someone else with absolutely no benefit to yourself. Many times we might do something for someone else, but doing so may give us something in return such as recognition or material or monetary gain. But that’s not altruism. Altruism is setting aside your own needs and helping someone else. This week, I think I was able to accomplish this. A friend was requiring my assistance, however I felt so drained that I was in no position to even want to help her. I could have easily confessed that I was so tired, very hungry, and had a load of work to do before the end of the day, but I didn’t. I knew that she would have understood had I told her, but I also knew that she needed help. So I dropped the pursuit of my own interests in exchange for hers.

I also began to think of something that I could do to accomplish 2 that would make myself feel good. We seem do things for ourselves everyday: choosing the foods that we like, fun ways to spend our time, who we’d like to spend our time with, or the places we’d like to go. Therefore, I believe that 1. is the hardest to do because you must set aside your wants for those of others. I think doing things that make yourself feel good is important and necessary to well being, however, doing those things at the expense of others is where the danger lies.

Happiness lies in the midst of both doing things for yourself and doing things for others. Both are necessary. If you are only pursuing your own interests, you miss out on the joy that comes from doing things for others. Nevertheless, at the same time, if you are always self-sacrificing, you will drain yourself out.

What do you think is easiest to do? Doing something completely for others, or completely for yourself?

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