#40: Positive Psychology

#40: Positive Psychology

In this training

We’re going to learn how human psychology went from neurosis to wellbeing, from the study of mental illness to mental wellbeing. We will create our signature strengths and know how to begin with positive engagement.

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I discuss:

  • THE PREDOMINANT NOTION IN PSYCHOLOGY follows the rest of Western medicine, in that it focuses on disease, not wellbeing
  • The science is demonstrating that as we discover within ourselves our “signature strengths”
  • How to use positive engagement

I am really excited to start you on this journey and I hope to add a lot of value to your life as a whole.

Show Transcript:

Nutrition is remarkable in its ability to have people with completely opposite views saying they have science to support completely opposite views.

Frustrating isn’t it? What are we suppose to believe?

Welcome to Dynamism Biohack, my name is Dr. Matt Hammett Wellness & Nutrition Expert, Lifestyle Trainer and Movement Enthusiast. In each week I’m going share with you how to make the right nutritious choices despite conflicting expert opinions where I help you to discover how to unlock your inner aborigine or your inner greatness. Thank you for spending this time with me today, so let’s get into the training.

THE PREDOMINANT NOTION IN PSYCHOLOGY follows the rest of Western medicine, in that it focuses on disease, not wellbeing.  In the 20th century, psychology research was primarily focused on mental illness. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, tells us that “for every 100 articles published on mental illness, there were only 1 published on mental health!”

That blew my mind when I read that. I bet this is a common statistic in all of the Western medicine. For every 100 articles published on disease and illness, there is only 1 published on human health!

Wow… What an eye opener!

Seligman adds that “we now have a much better understanding of depression, schizophrenia, and other ‘negative elements’ of human behavior; unfortunately, we made less progress toward scientifically understanding the elements of health and optimal living.” These words are taken right out of the mouth of the former president of the American Psychological Association.

In fact, it was Martin Seligman, who launched an initiative to study health and optimal living in psychology, all while still the president of the American Psychological Association. He wanted to understand happiness and other positive emotions, as well as their influence on health. The “positive psychology” branch of research was launched, and we are all so very grateful. The launch itself is fascinating to me because we have a proof of a leader in Western medicine launching a research initiative toward the advancement of human health and wellness, not human sickness and disease.

Clinicians in the Wellness Revolution should take note of this because if it happened in the field of psychology, it is only a matter of time before it spreads into other branches of healthcare.  The idea of defining healthology may very well be a part of our healthcare soon.

Oh, Im so excited about this show today and that leads me to Dynamism Biohack: Positive Psychology.

I like Seligman’s model for “positive psychology.” His model differs from the old.  In the old model of disease, they take someone from -9 to -2 to 0 through pharmacology and psychotherapy.

Seligman’s work focused on understanding how to guide someone from 0 to +3 to +9. Today, this revolution has validated scientific research on the value of self-awareness, goal-directed behavior, altruism, gratitude and other aspects of optimal living.

What a great example for the rest of healthcare system to witness… Seligman cross-referenced across cultures and the millennia to define six core virtues:5

• Wisdom and knowledge
• Courage
• Love and humanity
• Justice
• Temperance
• Spirituality and transcendence

After identifying these six core virtues, the research discoveries categorized a set of 24 character strengths. We each have aspects of these strengths in our personality. The science is demonstrating that as we discover within ourselves our “signature strengths” and use them regularly in our everyday lives, our happiness and wellbeing both skyrocket.

Focusing on your “signature strengths” while building and using them in your everyday lives are the health attributes for the Cope driver. Robert Sternberg found in his research that the most successful among us were not those with the highest IQs or SATs or GPAs. Rather, the most successful spend just enough time making sure their weaknesses did not kick them in the fanny, and the rest of the time developing their strengths.

The success you have in this model of healthcare, how well you use your Five Pillars of a Dynamic Health, will be determined by use of your personal “positive psychology” building your strengths and the new habits you get to create that you love. That has been the formula for success as I have witnessed from my patients and verified in the literature.

Let us take a moment and identify your strengths. For a detailed look at the “signature strengths” test I recommend you visit ‪AuthenticHappiness.com‬ and take the free assessment.  It will help you with your goals in this program as you become a Dynamic person.

A Dynamic person desires the good life. They understand that the good life is not necessarily the “pleasant life” which might be drinking alcohol and taking a drag off a cigarette while eating whatever you want and remaining sedentary all day. That might be enjoyable for Caged people. People with conscious choice understand that the “good life” is attained by using their signature strengths every day, to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification.
Dynamic people find a way to use their strengths to see the work they do as a contribution to the greater good; they have a calling.  A calling is working for work’s sake because you are passionate about something. Seligman uses an interesting example, stating that “a physician who views the work as a job and is simply interested in making a good income does not have a calling, while a garbage collector who sees the work as making the world a cleaner, healthier place could have a calling.”

How about you?  You have gotten this far in this book; I bet you have a calling! Take a moment and write your calling description, so you can become a Dynamic person. Let us start with my calling description as an example:

As a wellness expert, health coach, teacher, husband, dad and lifestyle family chiropractor, I am committed to using my signature strengths in the greatest service to my family, community, and the world:

1. I use my creativity every day in writing and in coaching having fun coming up with new ways to implement being a Dynamic person while I embody the ideals of love, fun, and being conscious with all that I am.

2. I use my hope & optimism, setting my intention before I lay my hands on someone, or understanding their environment sharing my enthusiasm for life and ideas about how we can create our greatest lives even in the face of great challenge.

3. I use my courage every day, as I take a significant risk getting my ideas out there in writing or on radio, as a writer and a teacher. I smile and laugh out loud at my imperfections in the face of doubt, ridicule or challenge. I celebrate my courage, and the opportunities I have to put these ideas into practice in my life.

4. I use my kindness & generosity every day as I pay my team generously, and give my heart to my work and relationships circulating as much love, kindness, wisdom, abundance, and zeal as I can.

5. I use my energy & enthusiasm every day as I communicate our message of hope, healing, and new life to my patients and the community across the world.

6. I use my wisdom every day as I distil the essence of these amazing sciences, taking the Latin out of them and putting them into applicable and actionable traits we can all consume and enjoy in our life practice of being a Dynamic person.

Now that you have seen how to put together signature strengths, try writing a calling description of your own. We need to become conscious of how this all comes together, as we create a truly Dynamic person. The life of a Dynamic person consists of deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the five areas of living a Dynamic health. The meaningful life adds one more component, using the same strengths to forward knowledge, power or goodness.

So, what are your strengths?

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How are you using them every day?

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Most importantly, how are you giving your strengths to something bigger than yourself?

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GET YOUR VOICE OUT THERE
The science of igniting and sustaining positive change is how to become your new identity, a Dynamic person. A healthy mind is a free and consciously directed, positively engaged mind. In this present moment of choice, you now have the ability to make the conscious choice to be well. It is your free will to guard.

We can consciously choose our thoughts and perceive our environment. A Dynamic person understands the power of presence. Being present in the moment gives us the ability to be more conscious in life. There are three greatest predictors of success with this model:

1. Choice Optimism
2. Positive Engagement
3. Supporting Foundation

Choice Optimism is not about being irrationally positive; it is about being rational positive. Are you focusing your emotional energies in on the positive of the situation you are facing, or the negative paralyzing aspects of your choice? A Dynamic person takes a realistic assessment of the present moment while maintaining a positive belief that behavior matters in the face of challenge. In this way, they achieve greater results with whatever they are doing. The core belief of a Dynamic person is, “I will stay positively present at the moment while I assess the challenge.”

Positive engagement is the virtue it takes to create a positive perception of the present experience by creating empowering stories about stress. A Dynamic person using their positive engagement to view stress as an opportunity to engage in a challenge, rather than being overwhelmed by the threat.  Positive engagement strategies give them sustainable energies over the long haul of the challenge, in the present moment.  The core belief of a Dynamic person is, “In the face of this challenge at the moment, I will succeed.”

Support foundation is all about how much support you give while working to solve the problem. Research shows that how much support you give, rather than receive, is the remarkable predictor of success. A Dynamic person is a “support altruist,” and they cultivate the social support networks by stepping up and lending a hand. They often engage in leadership toward the improvement in the community. The core belief of a Dynamic person is, “I invest in the success of others.”

Every word we think to ourselves or say to someone else during our day counts, but particularly in the very beginning of each new social interaction. Research shows an excellent predictor to how conservation will turn positive or negative, is determined how the conversation gets started. Let me give you a few examples to illustrate this more clearly: in the work environment, when conducting a meeting, start that meeting with a few minutes of gratitude or positive stories about the progress your team has made.

The home environment can be just as exhilarating. My wife and I have four children, and much of our home life can at times feel like the workplace. We both try very hard engaging our children. The first time we speak to them after school we seek to focus first on the awesomeness of the day with an empowering question about the coolness of their day. Also remember, new parents, “it’s not about what is in the diaper, it is about who is in the diaper!”

The computer can be the easiest way of engagement. In an email, I may add a simple positive line like, “Hi NAME, hope your day is filled with awesomeness!” Then get into whatever needs to be said.

The research is very clear about this. Positive psychologist and former CBS News anchor Michelle Gielan writes about the power of broadcasting your voice in those first moments of conversation. Researchers with four-year-old children were asked to think of a positive memory, versus a negative memory. The children had primed with a positive memory before they began a task; they were 66% more efficient at figuring out games involving shapes, as a result.  Gielan reminds us not to start our day watching the negative news because the rest of your day tends to follow.

This amazing piece of advice is coming from a former news anchor, and presently, a positive psychologist: I never start my day watching the news or reading the newspaper. In fact, no one in my family starts our day with that kind of negative influence.  I have lived that way for over 20 years, and I do not feel like I have missed a beat in life. If you want a dose of advice, end your subscription with the negative newspaper, and keep the television off in the morning. Trust me; any actual relevant news will come from your social interactions.  Even then, most of those are irrelevant. Assessing relevance is one of the easiest steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from negative conditioning; I cannot recommend it enough!

In a recent study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers were able to predict levels of heart disease in a community, based on the tweets coming from people living there. They looked at language patterns in these tweets and assessed them for negative emotions and strained relationships coming for local Twitter users. The researchers predicted levels of heart disease better than an existing ten-point model that used information such as demographics and health risk factors (diabetes, hypertension, and obesity). What they determined from this research was that language expression on Twitter might be a better predictor of heart attacks than medical questionnaires!

Most adults realize today that the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” just is not quite accurate. What we say to ourselves and others matters.

A Dynamic person creates a “positive lead” in the conversation, either with themselves or with someone else, by creating positive leading questions.

Lighten up, move better and live fuller.

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