Persevering with your goals, mastering skills and achieving short and long term goals leads to a sense of accomplishment. Accomplishment is an essential element of wellbeing, so how can it be developed? [Read more…]
We’ll begin with a disclaimer: The Hamburger Model doesn’t sanction a hamburger fest. Nope, it’s way more nuanced than that. So what does Harvard’s Dr Ben-Shahar have to say about hamburgers and happiness?
Ben-Shar’s happiness model rests upon his assertion that “When you learn how to live for today and for tomorrow at the same time, you learn how to balance your immediate personal needs with long term goals and enjoy life as you never have before.”
Using a hamburger analogy, the happiness model emphasises how some of our choices will bring immediate satisfaction. Cue the image of a big, juicy, cheesy hamburger. Yum. Ben-Shaham equates that with tasty, short term pleasure. But long term? Not so great. Sure there’s a short term gain but it comes with a long term price. Health, wellbeing and physical fitness are all impacted. Ben-Shaham then offers us the alternative example of a veggie burger. Initially, to some, less appealing. It’s the healthy option, we may have negative feelings about consuming the healthy option over the hamburger but long term, it provides us with multiple benefits. The hamburger model illustrates how we oscillate between healthy-unhealthy options, choices and attitudes in every area of our lives. The happiness model encourages us to refine our choices, identifying options that are both healthy and tasty.
In addition to the hamburger analogy, Ben-Shaham identifies four archetypes;
Nihilism: Nihilists feel that all of the joy has been sucked out of life. They don’t see the point. Present and future benefits don’t exist for the nihilist.
Hedonism: Hedonists are all about the present moment. Whatever brings them pleasure is ok by them. There’s little future thought when they make their decisions and choices.
Rat Racing: This archetype focuses upon future reward at the expense of present pleasure. Deferred gratification is the mantra for the rat racer.
Happiness: This archetype represents balance between the present moment and the future.
Do you recognise your own individual archetype?
By developing our awareness and identifying choices that will increase our happiness, Ben-Shahar argues that we can increase our level of happiness. This model is all about incremental steps, small choices or tweaks that we can make each day to contribute to our overall wellbeing.
Ask yourself: What incremental steps or choices am I able to make today that will provide balance and happiness tomorrow?
Want to know more about the Hamburger Model or building your happiness, resilience and wellbeing? We offer consultancy, training, bitesize, half day or one day training courses along with conference sessions on how to build effective organisations. Contact us at email@example.com to find out more. We’d love to talk with you.
Is Happiness A Habit?
Strange as it may sound, research suggests that happiness can indeed be learned. Easy to say when the sun is shining and the birds are singing, but what about those days when everything seems grey? What will make you happy and how can you give yourself the lift you need?
Surprisingly what we think will make us happy rarely does. Research tells us that the thrill of acquiring material possessions or becoming a size 0, things that we erroneously believe will make us happy, usually don’t long term, leaving us with a feeling of ‘Is this all there is?’. A major US study found that the richest Americans earning over $10 million annually reported levels of personal happiness only slightly higher than their employees. So the answer isn’t money, a Black Friday offer on the hand bag or the car you’ve had your eye on.
Martin Seligman, the ‘father’ of positive psychology suggests keeping a ‘Gratitude Journal’. His influential research working with 70 severely depressed adults found that the keeping of a journal (and of course writing daily in it) produced impressive results. Weeks and months later, the gratitude journal had a significant impact upon the increased happiness of the research subjects whose depression had significantly decreased.
You may find yourself wondering if a journal is really going to cut the mustard for you on an off day. You may be onto something as longitudinal research with fraternal twins suggests that we may all have a ‘set point’ in terms of our happiness, which originates from our parents. For some, being happy just seems to come naturally whilst for others it takes work. The ‘set point’ is believed by some psychologists to be our baseline, a median point of happiness that we will always return to after highs and lows. Luckily, happiness isn’t something that you either have or you don’t, it’s something that you can develop.
Wherever your set point might be, there are a whole host of habits that you can adopt in an attempt to improve it. We know from extensive studies that the following actions will stand you in good stead in terms of increasing your level of happiness. When followed, each of these behaviours and approaches to life will nudge your level of happiness just a little further up the happy-o-meter.
• Make time to nurture relationships with your family & friends. Get the work/life balance right
• Express gratitude for what you have (a journal is the perfect way to do this, or running over your day in your head before you go to sleep, picking out what you are grateful for as you go along)
• Offer to help others, this will build your self esteem and help someone else at the same time (as well as strengthening your social network)
• Practice optimism when thinking about the future. Forget what everyone else is saying and focus on a positive future.
• Live in the present. Try to make sure that you are really in the moment wherever you are; at work, with friends, or just relaxing. Stop yourself from thinking about what’s on the ‘To do’ list, enjoy life and just be.
• Exercise. The latest neuropsychology tells us that exercise not only makes you look and feel better, it strengthens the neural pathways helping them to repair themselves as well as protecting you from the onset of dementia. Add this to the mixture of feel good endorphins that your brain releases into your body when you exercise and you’re onto a winner.
• Have lifelong goals & ambitions. Set yourself goals, what have you always wanted to do? How will you get there? Break it down into small steps and watch yourself grow. As Brian Tracy says ‘You can’t hit a target you can’t see’. Setting and achieving your goals will help you to build your self esteem, resilience and efficacy.
So now you’re armed. You know what to do to make happiness a habit and improve the level of joy in your life. Let us know how you get on!
If you’d like to know more about happiness, positive psychology or you just fancy a chat with us we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or take a look at our half day, full day, bitesize, bespoke or conference sessions.
Positive psychology video 1: Inspiring change – Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve
This is a fantastic Ted Talk given by the brilliant Carol Dweck, all about the role self-belief has to play in making positive change. A great video!
Positive psychology video 2: Barbara Fredrickson: The Positivity Ratio
Ever wondered just how many positive thoughts you need to tip the balance and change your outlook towards the positive? Barbara Fredrickson’s excellent video on the positivity ratio reveals all.
Positive psychology video 3: Martin Seligman: Flourishing
What does it mean to flourish and be happy? Positive Psychology thought leader, Martin Seligman, talks about flourishing.
Positive psychology video 4: Sonja Lyubomirsky: The Science of Happiness
Want to know more about the science behind happiness? An authority on the science of happiness, Sonjia Lyubomirsky explains all.
Positive psychology video 5: Rick Hanson: Hardwiring Happiness
So how do we train our brains to be happier and maintain the change? Rick Hanson talks hardwiring.
Positive psychology video 6: Daniel J. Siegel: Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
Ever wondered what takes place in our brains when we set goals and look to transform ourselves? Daniel J. Siegel explains the science of personal transformation.
Positive psychology video 7: Ed Diener: A Recipe for Happiness
The happiness guru, Ed Diener, gives his recipe for happiness, formed from decades of research.
Positive psychology video 8: Dan Gilbert: The Surprising Science of Happiness
Happiness expert, Dan Gilbert, talks us through the surprises to be found within the science of happiness.
Positive psychology video 9: Tal Ben-Shahar: Happiness 101
Tal Ben-Shahar’s happiness course was the most popular course at Harvard. To find out why, take a look at Happiness 101.
Positive psychology video 10: Matthieu Ricard: The Habits of Happiness
The fantastic Matthieu Ricard talks about habits for creating happiness.
We love to talk about all things positive psychology here at Positive Change Guru. Take a look at our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke positive psychology training for your organisation.
What is post-traumatic growth?
The effects of trauma can be hard to handle and at times, overwhelming. A comforting thought is that, whilst we are experiencing the negative effects of trauma, something more positive may also be taking place.
Trauma can lead us to question deeply held beliefs. We search for effective ways to heal and support. Psychology has begun to examine the potential for positive growth following trauma. Growth resulting from trauma is known as post-traumatic growth.
Tedeschi and Calhoun on post-traumatic growth
Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, psychologists at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte are experts in post-traumatic growth.
In a review of literature on post-traumatic growth, Tedeschi and Calhoun found reports of growth experiences exceeded reports of psychiatric illness following trauma.
In an example of profound post-traumatic growth, Viktor Frankl, psychologist and holocaust survivor,wrote,
“Everything can be taken from a man but …the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Examples of people responding positively to trauma can also be seen in the creation of organisations such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa and the UK wide Mothers Against Guns campaign.
How can we benefit from post-traumatic growth?
Calhoun and Tedeschi’s found that firmly held religious and philosophical beliefs are often questioned following traumatic events. Trauma prompts soul searching questions like, ‘how do I make sense of the world and what is my place in it?’ Beliefs and values are considered in greater depth. We often develop a greater understanding and appreciation of life following trauma. Existing goals are also questioned and new goals formed to fit in with the new, adjusted world view.
Psychologists have developed tools to measure post-traumatic growth, including the Stress-Related Growth Scale and Tedeschi and Calhoun’s Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory. These scales measure items such as relationship to others, new possibilities, personal strength, spiritual change, and appreciation of life.
Research using the above tools has linked post-traumatic growth with the following positive changes:
Increased perception of competence and self-reliance.
Greater acceptance of one’s vulnerability and negative emotional experiences.
Improved relationships with significant others.
More compassion and empathy for others.
Increased effort to improve relationships.
Greater appreciation of own existence.
Greater appreciation for life.
Positive changes in one’s priorities.
Increased religious/spiritual beliefs.
Finally, one important aspect of post-traumatic growth that Tedeschi and Calhoun emphasise, is that such growth exists alongside the emotions of suffering and loss rather than replacing them.
Here at Positive Change Guru we love to talk about all things positive psychology. Get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke positive psychology training for your organisation.
Like to find out more? Watch Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talk discussing post-traumatic growth.