flowing motion

Posts Tagged ‘flourishing

Trials more difficult than ours

I don’t know this soldier. I don’t know the details of his story.  I also don’t want to ‘use’ his story in ways that he doesn’t approve.  He used a phrase, though, that struck a cord with me. He said that even though he was injured, he was still part of a team.

Belonging is so important to our well being

For a long while, I’ve believed that belonging is one of the most important factors in well being, in productivity, in thriving and indeed any form of flourishing.

When we belong, we at least are saved from worrying about not belonging.

This soldier shows that belonging is more. When we belong, we are concerned for the wellbeing of others and we trust them to take care of ours.

Am I over-interpreting his story? Is he a fool to want to belong? Is it too hard to create belonging?

Or is the promotion of belonging our first task. To help us belong ~ so that we can thrive and flourish?

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What to expect from your psychologist

If you make an appointment to see me, I am going to ask you the toughest questions of all time.  And I am not going to stop until you either run away, or, you tell me this

  • Which ring is you hat in?
  • Who is the critical mass of your believers?

The feisty & the “out-of-it”

In my work as a “work & organizational psychologist”, I work with basically two groups of people.

The feisty & decisive

The first group are feisty, decisive people who have a clear sense of where they’ve thrown their hat. They know what they are about and what they stand for.

People like their energy and gather around them. My job, in the busyness of it all, is to slow them down and get them to look after the critical mass of people around them – not all the time and not every day – but just from time to time.

The hatless, the ringless, the lost

The second group in the world are those who don’t know what they have done with their hat. They might have torn it up and put a little in several rings. They might have forgotten where they left it.

The hatless often masquerade as organized people. In fact, we may recognize them precisely because they accuse the feisty types of leaving their hats lying around!

The truth is they lost their own hat a long time back and they can’t commit to any ring until they remember where they left it! As Paolo Coelho said on Twitter the other day ~ Distrust people who like everything. Distrust people who like nothing.   Particularly distrust people who are indifferent to everything.

Their lives have become sad. They don’t trust themselves to choose a ring and throw in their hat. So no one trusts them. And because no one trusts them, they lose more faith in themselves.  If they know where they left their hat, they will not say.  They feel ashamed.

Trusting oneself, trusting others and being trusted, all three feed each other in a spiral that moves up and down quite quickly.

Tough-minded psychologists help you find your hat!

Tough words? Yes!  When we let people drift, we are not doing them any favours. This is where your tough-minded psychologist comes in.

We begin with you pitching up being prepared to work.  You signal your intent by paying. Nothing like some good money to focus your mind.

Then we get down to work.

Well what are you prepared to commit to? I want to see it.

I am your audience of 1 who won’t let you get away with 2nd best.

And that sets off a positive process. Fortunately, the whole process works as a spiral and it feeds off itself. Once you get going, you won’t need me for a long while.

You do it, not me

But I can’t do it for you. If I do it, you still haven’t committed to anything.  Until your hat, with your name on it, is in the ring for everyone to see, things won’t work for you.

I am your coach and cheer leader

My job is to get you going. To be your cheerleader as you pick a ring that you can cope with. To be there the first time you try. To celebrate with you and to cry with you. Just at the start.

We aren’t feisty or uncommitted in perpetuity

The two groups – the feisty and the uncommitted – don’t have permanent membership. If you have been in either too long, you probably need to get hold of your psychologist.

Just don’t choose a softy. Don’t chose someone who is themselves uncommitted to anything in particular.

Look for 100% commitment from your psychologist

The first thing you look for is whether the psychologist has thrown their hat in your ring. Are they behind you 100%?

If not, don’t waste a penny!  If their hat is not in your ring, nothing they do or say will work. That’s how it goes.

Start watching the hats and the rings. Be upfront and the world is upfront with you.

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I am amazed by what I wrote months and months ago.  You really should keep a blog and write and write.  At the time, your posts may be rough, but they will clarify and when you reread them months late, you will be surprised by your insights.

It seems that some months ago, I jotted down some of my thoughts on using Twitter in classrooms.  In the course of the post, I jotted down three critical features of developing flourishing communities like thriving classrooms.

#1 Conversations

Talk to someone.  Work with someone.  If there is no one else, feel the ground under your feet.  Listen to the birds.  Pay attention!  As we pay attention to the world, we ourselves come alive and the world pays attention to us.

Managers & designers:  Start the conversation. Provide tools and opportunities for people to talk to each other. Watch the range of conversations and help people join in.  Also watch the content of conversations and help people extend their conversations – to more people in and outside the organization.

#2 Community

Be positive. I don’t mean gushy and airy-fairy.  I mean talk to the facts, including your own negative emotions, but don’t exclude other stories.  We should own our negative experience but not think they are the whole story.  Keep a gratitude diary because if you don’t, with the best will in the world, when shit-happens, and it does, you might find you cannot see the good with the bad.

Managers & designers: Set up “positive” procedures – which are procedures that allow us to recognize negative events, which ensure that we never disrespect anyone by ignoring how events impact on them, yet which acknowledge what is good and true and that we want to do more of.  Abandoning the negative art of “gap management” takes thought and disciplined work.  Falling out of love with our own tempers takes practice and like-minded friends.  But unless and until we can achieve positivity : negativity ratios of 5:1 when things are going badly, we will not predictably sustain communities where we will flourish.  The key to flourishing communities begins with us and our loyalty to our members.

#3  Meta-cognition (talking about)

As people settle in, watch out for discussion of the “rules of engagement” and the purpose of our existence.  Everyone will have an idea and they need to be heard. We need to listen to others to allow them to hear themselves and to help them relax sufficiently to hear others.  We need to be patient because this takes time and some people aren’t good at it.  Once advocacy is balanced with curiosity, the group might begin to thrive as a group.  Blogging, of course, as a form of talking-about – of putting our experiences into words and making sense of them.

Managers & designers: Help the group move through the five stages of group formation (forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning) and move as fast or as slow as they do extending the conversations appropriately but listening to the relevant concerns that people have at each stage though, quite rightly, these concerns are very different from yours.  People move on faster when they are allowed to complete each stage to their satisfaction.

Leading takes work. No doubt about that!  It is not as glamorous as it looks.

If you have read this far, you’ll have noticed that I am making little distinction between classrooms, businesses and for that matter, my own life.  I don’t.  I think the three points

  • talk to others
  • keep faith with others (even when it taxes your patience)
  • and put into words what we are thinking and experience

these three simple points are guides to building any community that you care enough to build.


 

Breakthrough work on happiness

Happy networks

The blogosphere this week has been awash with comments on the article on happiness published by the British Medical Journal on happiness in social networks.  What does it mean that happiness is collective?   Are we also affected by our friends’ happiness online in networks like Facebook?

Expansive, successful business teams

Getting a lot less press, over at Pos-Psych, Marcial Losada has published two reports about increasing the emotional space in business teams and improving business performance.   Losada aims to develop teams whose positive to negative talk falls between 3:1 to 11:1.

New stats and new ways to think about psychological phenomena

The BMJ article relies on network theory and analysis.  Losada’s work relies on recursive differential equations.  Lost you? Exactly.  Few psychologists, and that includes me,  studied this type of statistical modelling  in their undergraduate years.

Moreover, these aren’t just new statistical techniques that we can plug into SPSS and go.  Both techniques offer epistemological and ontological revolutions in the way we think.

A zeitgeist

The ontological revolution is also happening in the qualitative areas of our field.  Take this phrase used by The Economist yesterday to describe India’s democracy: a political system that can cope with disgruntlement without suffering existential doubts.

That is a brilliant definition of happiness, though we might want a little more for flourishing!

Invitation

I started a wiki laying out the methodologies used by Losada in some detail and I would love a collaborator.  If you are interested, please drop me a comment and I will send you its name and password.

We are entering an interesting time in psychology and I can see all the textbooks being rewritten!

So, I am a psychologist, but how can I become a positive psychologist?

I have found three essential competencies that I need to master in addition to my conventional training.  Can you think of any more?

New maths

1.  I need to be able to think in terms of fractals.   To be more concrete, I need to think of phenomena at three levels.

  • A clutch of relevant dimensions that are interdependent (a recursive model, that is).  So I am happy when the world is good to me and the world is good to me when I am happy.
  • Phenomena that are phase states.  So I am thriving when I am happy about good things and sad about bad things and move appropriately between the emotive states.   I am sort of coping when my state varies but it is limited.  I am definitely not flourishing when my mood is consistently positive or negative no matter what happens around me.
  • The benefits of the phase states are phrased at a different level of analysis, such as prosperity and longevity, and are expressed as mean differences rather than a direct linear effect.

Narratives

2.  Out goes the lab report, though I need it for some things, and in comes the story.  Can I tell a story about who does what, to what, and why?  Can I recount stories that reflect my vulnerability?  Can I create situations which respect the voice of others?

After a life time of “science” I find myself learning the art of story telling.  We have great role models in TED and fortunately great coaches such as Cliff Atkinson are stepping up on the business front.

Personal experience

3.  Have I applied positive techniques to my own life and do I approach situations appreciatively as reflexively as I looked for objectivity in my conventional training?

Am I able to take part in the mutual environment of action research or do I have to hide behind a facade of objectivity?

Any more?  I think positive psychology is going to take us on an interesting journey of professional transformation.

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Psychologists are very proud of being scientist-practitioners, and so we should be.  But if truth be told, we don’t write too many exams on the practice bit, and once we get to the practice bit, we get nervous if it doesn’t look like the science bit.

For people new to the practice of positive psychology, the part we have clients, this may help.  I wrote it when explaining my rather specialised blog, flourishing with 2.0.

“Positive psychology focuses us on the need to reach out, to engage with the world, and to pursue what we love and enjoy vigorously.”

Mmm, would you move that “vigorously” into the sentence?

 

UPDATE: As my contribution to keeping the internet free of debris, I shut down blogs that I have not being updating regularly.  Flourishing with 2.0 is one of those.

Here is the About page from that blog!

Why flourishing and 2.0?

I’m a serial migrant and I have become good at starting again in new places with new faces.

Fortunately for me, I am both a psychologist and media savvy. The task we migrants have, is to rebuild our psychological and social spaces at a lightening pace. We want and we need to become connected again in meaningful ways. We want and need to hear our voices again. And we want and we need to be heard again.

This site is not just for us though. We are not alone in this task of rebuilding our lives. Anyone going through a large transition faces the same task – students going to university, students leaving university, women whose children have left home, breadwinners who have been made redundant. We are all reconnecting and revisioning, rebuilding and regenerating, the way we live and who we are.

Though our changes are hard, we are also quite lucky to be making them now. Since the turn of the millenium, since 2000, both the internet and positive psychology have exploded. The read/write web, or web2.0 has brought a wider and better range of content generated by ordinary people. We can join in and speed up our connections to people around us.

Positive psychology focuses us on the need to reach out, to engage with the world, and to pursue what we love and enjoy vigorously.

Welcome. I am looking forward to this site and to your comments and feedback.

Yours,

Scotchcart

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