My notes on Positive Psychology
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14-10-2014, 03:19 AM
RE: My notes on Positive Psychology
Lecture 10 -- Change: Affect and Behavior

Change

Two methods of change: gradual and acute. Understanding something about how our brain changes make it easier for us to change.

First, find what EXACTLY we want to change. We find it hard to change certain negative personalities, and this is because often it is subconsciously associated with positive ones, e.g., rigidity and seriousness, gullibility and trustworthiness, grimness and coolness, perfectionism and ambitious drive, anxiety and responsibility, fault find and realism, happiness and slacking off, guilt and empathy. Nathaniel Branden developed a practice to identify the characteristics you want to change from those you want to keep.

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Method: The gradual and acute change of ABC, affect/emotion, behavior/action, and cognition/thought.

A, affect. Internal activities, interpretation of our action and the world, a logical connection between emotion, motivation and motion. GRADUAL change. [1] Mindful meditation. Being mindful means paying attention in the present moment. [Meditation exercise] Lead the attention to where it feels tense and breathe out with it, building a connection between the tense part and the relaxing feeling of exhalation. [2] Permission to be human, experience all necessary emotion, and it will then dissolve itself. ACUTE change. [1] Post trauma growth. [2] Peak experience, and Post Peak Experience Order, consolidated by maybe small yet immediate behavioral change, because our behavior are part of the outside world and when it is a little higher of our normal reach our mind will then start to analyze it and then change accordingly with time, which is to say first habits makes us, then we make our habits.

B, behavioral change. GRADUAL change. [1] Actions of expression gratitude. Putting down good things about something, whose effect is shown by US POWs in Vietnam, since the way we dissolve our cognitive distance is by matching our cognition with our behavior, which is so because action is much more powerful than words. [2] Acting, role-play, follow a role model. Facial expression and body gesture have feedback towards the mind. "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, yet sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." ACUTE change. [1] Adaptation and coping. Exit the comfort zone and enter the stretch zone. Tal's story about his macho upbringing and being requested to keep his words, made in jest, of putting on a pink small shirt in his class, "find opportunity in difficulty", and showed his pink shirt in 2008.

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13-11-2014, 09:55 PM
RE: My notes on Positive Psychology
Lecture 11 -- Change: Behavior and Cognition.

B, behavior (continued). GRADUAL change. [2] BEHAVE in a different way after understanding something new or old again. Take action. Self-perception theory. "Fake it till we make it". Body feedback hypothesis. Our behavior is will not only generate feedback from other people but also is a way we communicate with ourselves. [Haemmerlie & Montgomery] 12 women express interest in a man makes him less anxious, even after they were debriefed. [Bandura on self-efficacy] Nothing breeds more success like success. [Marva Collins]. [Chapters of the Fathers] "Those whose deeds exceed their wisdom, their wisdom shall endure"."First we make our habits and then our habits make us". Optimum level of discomfort. Flow. Stretch zone. To let change actually happen. To increase confidence, we do it by taking risks. Use our "INTERNAL SIMULATOR" as a starter, in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy terms, engage exposure. [3] Ritualization instead of self-discipline. Bad news, so much self-discipline for now, won't get much more all of a sudden. Good news, it's actually not that important when the focus is shifted from relying on self-discipline to induce change to introducing rituals. Most personal and organizational efforts to bring about change failed because they put too much emphasis on self-discipline. [Roy Baumeister's experiment with chocolate chips and beetroots] The quota of self-discipline is usually limited. [New Year's resolution versus brushing teeth]. [Loehr & Schwartz] “Building rituals requires defining very precise behaviors, and performing them at very specific times, motivated by deeply held values”, "incremental change is better than epic failure. Success feeds on itself." What about missed it ? Make up for it. Reduce negative rituals like constantly checking emails. [Folding hands and reverse it] Power of rituals. 21 or 30 days to change it. No more than 1 or 2 at a time, because it takes a lot of self-discipline. And rituals have a trickling effect, bringing order to other aspects of life. ACUTE change [1] With the help of others, like getting rid of addiction.

C, cognition. GRADUAL change [1] Cognitive reconstruction. An interpretation is a neural pathway and it can be reinforced over time, either negative or positive. [Example of twins] Raised in the same family, yet adopts different paths of life later on. Genes only explain half of the story for humans. [Schachter & Singer] Epinephrine injections led to dramatically different interpretations as fury or ecstasy. [Lee Ross] generous and cut-throats friends, same game interpreted differently as community game and Wall Street Game. Threat and opportunity, maybe the same thing. [A concept that changed Tal] Most important for relationships, to be known, rather than to be validated. [Ali's experiment with cleaning ladies in hotels] Labor or good physical exercise brings quite some difference. ACUTE change [1] Eureka experience. Immersion (also foundation to success), Incubation (time-off, JP Morgan, do a year's work in 9 months but not in 12), Eureka (Post Peak Experience Order), Evaluation.

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14-11-2014, 08:57 AM
RE: My notes on Positive Psychology
K thanks!

When I want your opinion I'll read your entrails.
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19-12-2014, 11:57 PM
RE: My notes on Positive Psychology
Lecture 12 -- Summary on change, introduction to goal setting

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Cognitive change - Acute change - Eureka Experience, continued

There's no quick fix. Before the "Eureka" moment, laying an outline, making preparations and working hard is inevitable. Taking time off to incubate is important, like what J.P. Morgan said.

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Summary - Journal

We know change is difficult. [Pennebaker's study on the effect of journaling] showed it helps us to bring about change. Participants wrote about their most difficult experiences for 15 minutes a day, several consecutive days in a specified manner, which was to write about "what happened and how you felt about it, and how you feel about it now". Anxiety level rose at first and then continued to drop with a lasting effect. [Laura King's study] on writing about most positive experiences in the same manner, showed identical results, i.e. improved mental and physical status.

Journaling has ABC in it. Writing is a behavior change. Writing about what happened, how you felt and feeling now is a REPLAY of emotions(affect) (instead of ANALYSIS of why or how it happened), which in the process of writing and thinking leads to change of the mind(cognition). Journaling opens up a channel for the ABC to flow. It helps both genders, yet especially the men.

Simple replaying is key. When writing about painful emotions, we let it flow instead of suppressing it, which actually intensifies the pain instead of relieving it, as shown in the [Ironic processing study]. When writing about positive emotions, it fortifies the neural pathway.

Pennebaker's instruction on writing about "how you are feeling now" the feeling of coherence which is most beneficial. After journaling for some time, words like "now I see/understand/realize that" and "it just dawned on me" started to show up in Pennebaker's study, which means that the participants were creating a sense of coherence out of their experiences, a full story about it, no longer dispersed, disjointed, disconnected data, which is much easier to grasp, which also brings out meaning from past pains and completion to it, as shown in the comparison between Holocaust survivors and Vietnam War veterans. [Antonovsky identified] this sense of coherence (comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness) generates health, which can be established in writing a journal.

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Summary of the whole lecture about Change

As shown in the journaling case, Affection, Behavior and Cognition changes are interconnected. It is like a flood, higher self-confidence, better performance, higher self-esteem, and the higher self-confidence.
In some cases we reached resignation, which is a gridlock of affection, or as Martin Seligman interpreted, learned helplessness, a gridlock of cognition. And that's when we reached depression, a gridlock of behavior. All these changes in ABC described before not only help us to break down these gridlock and let us flow, they also help us build an upward spiral and become healthier, like what Marva Collins does to her students. For broaden-and-build and self-efficacy, anywhere among the ABC is a good point to start.

There indeed are a few more handy techniques. For affection change, physical exercise is a powerful tool, and there is good music. For behavioral change, gradual exposure starting with imagination can be helpful; talking to people close to us about our plans of bringing about change, exposing such thoughts, and it will be easier for us to get support and ultimately implement these changes we want. For cognitive change, we can work on the questions about the three M's (irrational magnifying, minimizing, making-up), during which we can always check whether we give ourselves the permission to be human.

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Goal setting – introduction

Setting goals is important because goals focus us, and making us future-oriented. [Nietzsche] If we have a what for, every how becomes possible. Setting a goal motivates us to change the reality to approach what we deem desirable. Plus, setting goals leads to the effect of [knapsack], which is based on the fact that necessity is the mother of inventions, as it was portrayed in the example of how questions focus us, open opportunities and lead to a particular reality. And it is the bridge between what we want and what the reality is, thus brings more sense of consistency to our life.

Words create worlds, thus goals in words are powerful things. Setting it is a behavior change. COMMIT ting ourselves to a goal after setting it begins an upward spiral of ABC improvements, and thus contributes to the ultimate currency that is our happiness. And it is the PROCESS of attaining the goal, other than the moment of reaching there, that betters our baseline of happiness, as what we can learn from those who seem to have it all yet now end up in a rehab center. This is because happiness is having a goal, a destination in mind, and the letting go and enjoy the process. Or like what [David Myers] said, happiness grows more "from involvement in valued activities and progress toward one goal".

In that sense, we can say that all goals are created equal. And common sense says that self-concordant goals work better. Here's a way to find them out: make a list of you want-to-do's, long or short, whatever it is; identify what you want to do and put them into another list; seriously identify want you really want to do; look at these things and find out what you really really want to do, and then do it.

Carpe diem.

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22-12-2014, 02:02 AM
RE: My notes on Positive Psychology
Lecture 13 -- Goals, VIA and Stress

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Goal setting - self-concordant goals

A little bit more about self-concordant goals. Their benefits: (1) Obvious. Setting such goals makes us happier, (2) and resolves our internal conflicts (like anxiety, uncertainty, existential doubts) by engaging conflicting internal parts in a super-ordinate goal, making them independent, (3) and hence the likelihood of success. Contrary to strictly "no pain no gain", rather "do it better with pleasure", with the bonus of trickling effect, positive effect on other areas of life. [Ellen Langer's study of old age home] and story of the movie Matrix oddly convey the same message, a life with options to choose from (asked "what do you want to do" and supported as opposed to being catered for) and efforts made enhances health.

Values in Action is a most ambitious effort in positive psychology, as an alternative to DSMMD, identifying individual strength and virtues (http://www.viacharacter.org). And 24 character strengths have been identified. Self-concordant goals are better on the way when these personal strengths are at work, becoming a complete experience. VIA to DSMMD is like PPEO to PTSD.

VIA-based Exercise One: (1)Take the test and identify the order of our strengths. (2) Find among the top 12, "which ones are the real me" "which one when engaged makes me more energized and motivated" "which ones do I grow and develop most from". (3) Choose one such strength and apply it in turns until it becomes a habit, (4) each night describe how that strength is applied and commit how it is going to be applied the next day.

VIA-based Exercise Two: (1) Same, (2) same, (3) identify certain problems in life that you want to deal with most, ask how you can apply one strength or a combination of them toward those problem(s), and apply it, (4) same.

Self-concordant goal in work orientation, classified into three categories: overall a job, a career or a calling. It much more depends on our perception of the work. What we should think about is what we can't live without.

A few more tips: (1) write it down as a commitment, (2) set life lines, (3) make it specific, (4) stretch goals (expand the outcome to a possible journey, long to mediate to short term).

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Stress

Excessive stress is a real problem around the globe. Dealing with stress is cognitive reframing. Cure: take a time out.

Stress is NOT the problem. Stress is a good thing. It cultivated resilience and builds capacity. LACK of RECOVERY is the problem. We should transform from "marathon runners" to "sprinters", learn to properly sprint and rest. Take 15-minute-break breaks during working hard. And key factors are to maintain flexibility of rituals and to attain multilevel recovery.

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18-03-2015, 07:30 PM
RE: My notes on Positive Psychology
Lecture 14 -- Goal Setting (continued) and Perfectionism



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Goal setting (continued)

Quick recap: About Pressure. Pressure is not the problem, lack of recovery is. Take sufficient rest and take it on multiple levels. Be a sprinter instead of a marathon runner.

Work hard and play hard. [Daniel Kahneman's study of women's feelings in one day] shows that "hard" means mindfully with focus on it. And [the analogy of two pieces of favorite music played simultaneously] shows that there can be too much of a good thing in our modern life, with quantity affecting quality. Reduce multi-tasking when able to and should do so, since it is equivalent to taking off 10 IQ points by leaving the email on while doing things that require concentration. When basic needs are met and material affluence become much less powerful, [Kasser's study] a sense of "Time Affluence" will be a good predictor of well-being. Reach an optimum level of simplicity. Do what you really Really REALLY want to do.

One technique about getting started towards goals and against procrastination is "the 5 minute take-off". That one needs to be inspired or rewarded in order to act is a misunderstanding. Another one is throwing your nap sack over the wall (going public with your goal, fighting for it with others knowing, writing it down,). And finally, permit oneself to recreate and be human.



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Perfectionism

Tal told [ his personal story about the knot in his stomach ], or rather the consequence of his perfectionism. We are going to look at it from three aspects: characteristics, meaning and consequence.

[ The example of that we are not able to draw a fair circle without having drawn hundreds of failed ones ] shows that there's no other way to success, no other way to grow, and no other way to learn, to become more resilient or happier. Yet we are now often very different from who we were [ when we were learning how to walk through countless falling, getting up and trying again ]. What happens if the worst happen: I will hurt and I will recover. The life story of the seemingly Mr. "Ultimate Failure" is actually one of a Mr. Perseverance, the US' 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. We also hear a similar story from Michael Jordan in his own words. And we know how Edison invented the light bulb.

How is this possible for them and not always working for us? [ Amy Edmondson's study for reduction of medical errors ] led to the concept of psychological safety, room for talking about errors and feeling safe at the same time in an organization, which is a characteristic of a learning organization, and also sheds light on what we can do with ourselves. The story about how [ Thomas Watson ], founder of IBM, treated an employee who had just cost IBM a million, is inspiring, yet it shouldn't be, because learning from other than self-blaming our mistakes should be one basic common sense to us. And when we look at those most successful ones, let it be natural for us to also look beyond the glamour and consider how many mistakes they have made and lessons they have learnt.

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22-04-2015, 11:09 PM
RE: My notes on Positive Psychology
Lecture 15 -- Perfectionism cont.

Perfectionism cont.

(Recap) The only way to success: learn through past failure, as crucible examples of [Thomas Edison, Michael Jackson, Thomas Watson, Abraham Lincoln, Geeks and Geezers ] have told, which turned into learning experience and stepping stone. Failure has great value and importance; we don't have to enjoy the former, yet it is rejoice-worthy when we get the latter through the former.

Ben's Definition of Perfectionism: an INCAPACITATing fear of failure that permeates our lives, especially those areas that we CARE about most. It is this incapacitating nature of perfectionism that brings disorders and makes us not able to accept ourselves. A perfectionist life is full of fear, little excitement; it is all or nothing, but not sustainable growth. Perfectionism spells paralysis, produces little flow of life.

Perfectionism is a intrinsic characteristic: it comes from social influence, the stereotype notion that only the result, the successful result, matters and is worthy rewarding, those ideal models and unrealistic standards, and praises that are irrelevant about the efforts made, as demonstrated by [Carol Dweck's experiment on emphasizing efforts instead of results]. Its result ? A fixed mindset, if not an ossified one.

Renouncing perfectionism IS NOT saying goodbye to dreams and ambitions. A person committed to EXCELLENCE can still be as ambitious as a perfectionist, if not even more than him, while a perfectionist only has temporary relief, as the story of a [Mr. X] that Ben told has revealed. Then how can we get rid of perfectionism ? Since nobody is a PERFECT PERFECTIONIST, we can and need to choose in our lives where we think we are happy and can be happier.

A person committed to excellence expects existence of detour(failure) and learning though it in his understanding of his way to success, which, as he understands it, is generally how things actually happen. Criticism (a deviation from perfection which could lead to defensiveness) is another thing that a person committed to excellence doesn't have to enjoy yet is able to find necessary value and importance within.

So how to become a person committed to excellence ? What kind of excellence should we pursue ? Answer: Ask "what kind of life do I really Really REALLY want for myself NOW ?", and start from little, new things, begin to see things we haven't seen before. Step one, become self-aware of perfectionism as the starting point of improvement. Step two, focus on rewarding effort. Step three, actively accept our perfectionist behavior as a part of human life and live beyond it. Thanks to neuroplasticity, we are able to change old habits of many years in this way within months or even weeks.

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23-04-2015, 09:40 PM
RE: My notes on Positive Psychology
Lecture 16 -- Perfectionism cont. & Mind-Body Theory

Ben said he thought he would talked about the mind body earlier next time because it is so foundational, so basic and so important.

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Perfectionism cont. 2

Difference between models of a perfectionist and a committed-to-excellence person is in the mindfulness of the journey of the latter. Their paths might look very similar, yet the latter is working on the path he enjoys the way along (and the excitement too!), instead of the temporary relief the former has only at destinations (accompanied by the long-lasting weariness T_T ).

To overcome perfectionism, we have a three-step method: S. Self-awareness, know what we want to change, what to maintain; R. Reward the effort, a more nuance understanding between praises "You are smart" and "You indeed have worked hard", our mindset is malleable with months' or even weeks' effort; A. Active acceptance of what it is now, as how [ Samuel Coleridge ] liberated himself by calling it "rough drafts", we are able to work on it with it alongside, and this is what we humans are capable of because haven't we all learned how to walk since the day when we originally were able to do so? (Or as some Buddhists rephrased it, a tool to know ourselves better and let us grow again. Please also have compassion for ourselves, which is also the starting point if we want to help others, because actions speak much louder than words.)

More tools: learn from Criticism, and Meditation. We don't have to make ourselves happy about criticisms, but there within are things that are worth rejoicing for after we have learned them. (Junyuan's simple technique about meditation) Look at a little thing or part in front of you, close your eyes, picture it as where it was in your mind SILENTLY (exclude all language in your mind) , and try to go into details through your "mind's eye's scans". Meditation is a kind of acceptance of things as a state of being, as opposed to a state of doing.

And finally, the 3P technique (like a pill, need to be taken occasionally): 1st P. Permission to be human; 2nd P. Positive interpretation; 3rd P. Perspective, what about one year later, will I still be so worried about it? (Ben's definition of psychological maturity: the ability to willingly shifting perspective)

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Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

As [ Martin Seligman ] said, psychology and we have paid too much attention to what's from neck up, whereas most of what happens to us is from neck down.

The Remarkable Wonder Drug (all positive, no side effects, free of charge) :
P. 30 minutes of Physical exercise, 4 times a week;
M. 15 minutes of Mindful exercise, 7 times a week;
S. 8 hours of Sleep every 24 hours;
H. 12 Hugs a day.

The wonder drug's being so remarkable is because the body and the mind are connected. Mind helps the body, and body helps the mind. Our mind has come to the 21st century yet our body is still that of a caveman. If we do not regularly do things reminiscent of hunting, gathering, or starting a fire, our body will start to "worry" about our next meal, which will definitely sub-consciously affect our mind. We are paying a price for that. There's no coincidence that the average age of onset of depression today is just under 15, the age when PE class is no long regarded as important. We need physical exercise as necessarily as we need oxygen, vitamins, protein and carbohydrates.

Though taking on effect a little slower (one month versus 10 days), regular medium difficulty physical exercise (walking, swimming, bicycling for 30 minutes, one time every two days, with sufficient time for Recovery, not those frequently repeated workouts that are too intense) has been demonstrated to be not only as effective as the symptomatic drug for depression, but also with much less recurrence. And this is why physical exercise is prescribed before any other treatment by some psychiatric doctors.

Regular PE can eventually become an automated habit for us.

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09-05-2015, 09:21 PM
RE: My notes on Positive Psychology
Lecture 23 -- Summary of 1504

Question
- Question we ask leads to focus, focus changes reality. How we interpret a thing determines what happens shortly afterwards.
- Please also ask positive questions.
- Expectations too high or too low is not the problem. The problem is whether or not having the right expectations.
- Appreciation will appreciate themselves.
- Yet, too much of a good thing can be excessive.
- Ask these two: How can I become happier ? What do I really Really REALLY want to do ? And then DO it.

Relationship
- Relationship, either romantic or non-romantic, contributes a great deal to our happiness. Cultivate and invest in it.
- Like happiness, how well a relationship goes is generally around a base level with ups and downs.
- Let yourself be known is the foundation of relationship cultivation.

Mind and body
- Regular PE is the basis for a healthy mind.
- Meditation relaxes the body.
- Like a muscle, the brain can become stronger through exercise, so stress is not a problem, just invest enough effort in recovery.
- Hug a little more. Tactile sensation also matters.

Change
- Change of the emotion, the behavior and the thinking set is important for us and we are able to do so.
- Core of change: introduce behavioral change, NOW ! Try the 5-minute take-off technique.
- P1504 is a course aimed at bridging the ivory tower and the mainstreet, essentially, bringing about change.
- Put up a smile on your face. It changes you and those around you instantly. The Pygmalion effect.
- Only one way to success: through failure and learning from it. Get prepared for it beforehand, interpret it positively, learn from it and move on.

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