THINK…Deal with hardships and difficulties by cultivating happiness…

TalBenShaharInterviewPost

“What research has shown recently is that when we focus on people’s strengths, when we cultivate their happiness, we’re actually indirectly also helping them deal with hardships and difficulties”,  explained Tal Ben-Shahar during his interview for Big Think 

“… most research in psychology looks at schizophrenia, depression, anxiety; whereas, positive psychology says let’s look at the things that work in life. Let’s look at love, let’s look at happiness, let’s look at joy, job satisfaction…a therapist, the first implicit or explicit question that he or she would ask, the client would be what’s wrong, what’s not working in your life. A positive psychologist would first ask what is working, what is going well in your life and then build on that and then deal with what is not working based on what is working.”

I had to  go back to this interview because those phrases came back to mind today as I listened to one of my students, a young lady, with tears flowing, as she recounted how during an exercise in the vocational orientation class  she was taken all the way back to stuff she had not thought of in a while from when she was 8 and she was made fun of by her dad… she said, “this exercise opened up a wound I did not know I had, much less imagined it was that deep…”

I was caught unprepared for this given that my own relationship with dad is, to say the least, rocky; plus the current sweet & sour state of my daughter’s relationship with her dad, a.k.a. the hubby…

Anyway, this was not about me or my daughter, this was about a girl “discovering” or, for now, believing that her own dad is the root/ cause of her emotional turmoil and confusion… and, who knows, he may be… the thing here is, and this is where I go back to Tal Ben-Shahar’s words describing the difference between traditional and positive psychology… Traditional psychology takes you from 0 to -10, that is, it takes you from feeling bad to it’s root, making you, on the way, feel even worse… OK, valid method, it has always worked and we are now used to wanting to know the root… BUT, in the case of my student, she is a teenager that went home after school and had to eat lunch sitting next to the person who, as she “discovered” today, is causing her the most pain she has ever felt…

She has no tools, no strategies to deal with this… her bouts with anxiety, are now supposedly caused by her dad’s abusive/ insensitive remarks have taken on a whole new level and significance in her life…

I once read a book titled TU HIJO, TU ESPEJO, roughly translated, Your Child, Your Mirror… The mere titled diagnosed me. I saw it and I thought, Yes, this is us, tell me more, help me remedy this, help me turn this into something favorable… turns out, the damn book just stayed at that level, the diagnosis: your children will eventually turn into you so be careful… I was so disappointed…

Today’s situation feels a bit like this, here’s the diagnosis, be careful… The girl did say that the recommendation was to just ignore her dad…

Hhhhmmm… what? NO!

I am not a psychologist nor do I play one on TV, nevertheless, I do know that this is not the ideal strategy for a teenage girl to follow when dealing with her complicated relationship with dad… I also know that, as with boys, but specially girls, their bond to dad is enriching, empowering, gratifying, builds confidence, in other words, just plain important!

Teenagers, nowadays, take care of their own diagnoses by doing some research (of course I am referring to controlable, non life threatening difficulties) however they turn to us for guidance in dealing with their maladie … they find their 0 to -10 on their own, they want help in going from 0 to +10…

I like to use a pool as a metaphor, traditional psychology shows you your stuff lying on the bottom of the pool, makes you jump into the pool of emotions, takes you to the bottom then slowly brings you back up… Positive psychology, invites you to sit on the edge of the pool, reminds you how good the water feels, the wonderful sound the palm trees make blowing in the breeze, commends you on wearing your sunscreen, then shows you, still sitting on the edge, your stuff lying (laying? which is correct?) on the bottom of the pool then asks you, from that happy place you are in, what can you do to take care of the stuff down there…

(by my metaphors here and in my past post, you can tell I need a beach vacation, asap)

I am not a psychologist, and I may have no idea what I am talking about, but these young people don’t need to be shown what is not working in their lives, they know it, they need to be reminded of what is and how they can multiply the positive effects this has…

Besides, guess who’ll be running the show when we are old-er and grey-er?… THEY WILL!!!

Shouldn’t we be working with them towards their best selves? Not just for their future but also for ours…

Hope you get a chance to listen to or read the transcript of Tal Ben-Shahar’s interview🙂 I highly recommend it🙂🙂

 

 

 

2 responses to “THINK…Deal with hardships and difficulties by cultivating happiness…

  1. Karen, thank you for being so supportive of my “ramblings” jejejeee🙂 there are topics that speed up my heart rate, that’s how I know I should sit and write a bit about it, keeping my fingers crossed that I make any sense… we should focus and even celebrate what’s going well in life and build on that, right?! All the best to you as well my dear friend, loving hugs going your way🙂

  2. Always love your thoughtful blogs, Alexandra. I think this is so true about cultivating happiness.

    Wishing you all good things today and every day,

    Karen

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