Imagine doing work that you truly enjoy, and not only that, but imagine the work also gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. What is it that you would be doing? When we are fulfilled by the work we do we will likely be at our best, and will be engaged and challenged on a daily basis. When we find this congruence in the work we do, it may no longer feel like work, but more like a "calling" we were meant for. Finding the right work that corresponds with our passions and strengths can seem like a lifelong challenge if we don't understand our natural capabilities, what motivates us, and what gives us a sense of purpose.
There is growing interest in the use of meditation and other contemplative practices to promote mental and physical health. Until recently, the practice of meditation has been traditionally relegated to the private study of those willing to be specially trained in a particular style or technique. However, in the past 10 years, things have changed as meditation’s universal appeal and access has begun to broaden, and the real-world applications and neuroscience research has followed. Even more interesting is exploring the valuable effects of combining frameworks and techniques from different contemplative traditions to improve emotional experiences and regulation. A recent study published in the Journal of Emotions (2012) examined the emotional changes that can result from meditation practice and emotional intelligence training, by delivering a program to 82 female participants over 8 weeks.
Mother's Day has arrived and it's time to celebrate the unique responsibilities, challenges and excitement of motherhood. If you’re a mother, this post is an offering to your happiness and contentment, and a reminder of the indispensable role you fill. Mothers are a unique leader of their children and family. They fill a crucial role of teaching future generations the power of living a loving and compassionate life. This is because mothers live with a sense of love that is unmatched by most. They approach life with a caring and courageous heart and the decisions they make are anchored in love. A few of the leadership qualities mothers convey include: joy, hope, love and compassion.
Have you ever noticed that the more you have the more you want? Let's face it. Seeing our life as good enough doesn't come naturally for many people any longer. We live in a mixed-up and crazy culture where it's an ongoing commitment to temper greed, jealousy and ambition for more. We always have the options to have more, learn more and do more. One key to living with contentment is to realize the difference between needs and wants. We allow our desires and wants to take over our motivation until we begin to believe that we really need to live a life of consumption and materialism. As we gain awareness of this conditioning we can learn to alter our perspective to one that will offer more satisfaction with life. Here are a few ideas to help you be happier with what you have and who you are:
I have been doing more interviews on this blog lately to get wisdom, cutting edge knowledge, and valuable insight from experts in the field of Positive Psychology, and this interview with Ryan Niemiec Psy.D. offers all of that and more. Ryan is the Education Director at the VIA Institute on Character, and a fellow blogger here on PsychCentral who writes the blog Character Strengths. He was kind enough to share his extensive knowledge about how we can use our character strengths to begin living life at our best. I believe this is one of the most valuable topics in applied positive psychology so am truly grateful for his generosity. I know the interview is long, but it's certainly worth the read. I hope you enjoy!
Have you ever noticed that there is a human tendency to try and make sense of someone by how they look? We sort of size people up when we meet them. Morphopsychology is the analysis and study of the facial morphology, used for personality evaluations. The process by which the shape of one’s face interacts with the psychology is still a mystery, but I am sure that like everyone else, when meeting a new face, you had a strange intuition of knowing the nature of the person you met (Note that this intuition could prove to be right or wrong). That is where morphopsychology started, and it started a long time ago because the first words we know about it are from Hippocrates. From experience, clinical observation, and statistical studies, a lot of skilled men started drawing the basic rules to propose a correspondence between face and personality.
If I asked you what your biggest motivation is, what would you say? Would you say it's to be successful, to have loving relationships, to make a difference in the world, or to be wealthy? Maybe it's all of the above - though there is one common denominator for all of these: to be happy. We all want to be happy, right? Some would say the search for happiness is the greatest motivator of humankind. For many people this is the primary goal of their life. We do what we do in the hopes that we will ultimately find greater happiness. It's intuitive to think that if we value happiness so much, we would ultimately be happier. If you want something bad enough, don't you do whatever it takes to reach this goal?
Zest makes life better. Zestful people simply enjoy things more than people low in zestfulness, so when we talk about increasing our habitual level of happiness (what some call the “happiness set point”) then increasing our ability to feel zestful helps. It is true that zestfulness is almost certainly an innate, inherited trait. But in the past few years, we have discovered that many of these traits are quite changeable. We can increase zest if we wish to. How do we do it? What about enjoying the things around us? The skill of Savoring can increase our zest, since by paying attention to the pleasant things in our lives, we develop a greater sense of excitement about having that happen again. We enjoy and we eagerly anticipate. Think of wine tasters. You have seen them sniffing the wine as they swirl it around in the glass, then swishing it around in their mouth. They are trying to sense every aspect of the wine. Their attention is totally focused on the moment, on how they can tune in to every molecule of taste. They are savoring the wine.
Sometimes our emotions get the best of us. No matter how much we try to be aware of our triggers and keep calm, there will probably be times we simply lose our cool. We live in a day and age where people are consumed with daily pressure and overloaded with stress from work, family, finances and other obligations. What do you do to cope during these moments of stress and frustration? Whether you're personally struggling to manage your emotions or you know someone in your life who seems to be emotionally sensitive, practicing mindful awareness can be a tool for regulating these difficult emotions. Mindfulness is generally characterized as having present moment awareness, where we observe our current experience of thoughts and feelings in a nonjudgmental manner. Mindfulness has been shown to be effective for therapeutic purposes by decreasing emotional distress and helping to reduce depression - though mindfulness can also be a valuable means for dealing with everyday pressures as well.
Have you ever wanted to be more brave, courageous, and bold? Think of what you could do if you had the courage to step out on a limb and push beyond your fears? When it comes to my personal level of courage, I have came a long way over the last few years. I am willing to take more risks, push beyond my self-imposed limitations, and expand my view of what is possible in life. Still, I'm always interested in how I can be more confident, determined, and steadfast as I pursue further aspirations. I was fortunate to come across a new book that provides the insight and information about how to do just this. The book is called The Courage Quotient by psychologist Robert Biswas-Diener. Dr. Biswas-Diener is known as the "Indiana Jones of Positive Psychology," and I have been a huge fan of his work in the field of positive psychology coaching. His new book explores what psychological research is revealing about how to increase courage and be braver person, and below is an interview where we delve deeper into his new book and the science of courage.