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By Mark D Shishim, M.A. Health Educator UCSB Student Health Service

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1 By Mark D Shishim, M.A. Health Educator UCSB Student Health Service
What is Positive Psychology? By Mark D Shishim, M.A. Health Educator UCSB Student Health Service

2 Setup and Warnings Background = I am not an expert!
Current Status = it’s Saturday! Style = interrupt me! Educational philosophy = thank you! Favorite parts of my job = simple changes with big effects

3 Why I’m here: Curious type
Interest in mind-body / attitude-health connection Expand your definition of “happiness” Separate my work from self-help genre Challenge you to consider the effects of your attitude on your health and ability to learn Confuse you a bit

4 I will cover: Basics of Positive Psychology
Reasons to focus on Positive Psychology for your health Reasons to focus on Positive Psychology for your student’s learning Proven “happy-ventions” and some NEW research results The UCSB Wellness Program

5 Health Continuum: Flourishing Health Sick Proactive Active Reactive
Everyday Activities Sick Proactive Active Reactive

6 What we do to get there: -5 5+ -5 5+ -5 5+ PHYSICAL Knowledge:

7 Starting Point: +5 “For every 100 psychology papers, only 1 contains a positive trait” Wade, 2005 POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY MOST OF PSYCHOLOGY -5

8 Three objectives of American psychology after WWII:
1. cure mental illness 2. make relatively untroubled people happier 3. study genius and high talent All but the first fell off after the war because of funding.

9 The Goal: The purpose of Positive Psychology is to understand and promote the human strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.

10 Positive Psychology: Is a psychology for: more people and
what occurs more often

11 Their stand: Yes, studying problems is necessary, but it leaves the field incomplete when not paired with studying success.

12 My stand: Yes, studying my problems is necessary, but it leaves me feeling crappy when not paired with studying what makes me feel good. Grrrrrr…..

13 “Ice Age” brain: “Because our brain evolved during a time of ice, flood, and famine we have a catastrophic brain…looking for what’s wrong. The problem is, that worked in the Pleistocene era. It favored you, but it doesn’t work in the modern world.” -Martin Seligman, 2005

14 Positive Emotion: 4/5 basic emotions and their messages are negative:
Fear: danger is near, run Anger: deter aggressor Disgust: avoid contamination Sadness: warning, save energy JOY: “something’s good, don’t change anything” -Dan Nettle

15 Brain-scan evidence shows :
Humans dwell overwhelmingly more on negative When life goes smoothly, less brain activity We are hard-wired to care more about the negative for survival Beyond survival takes effort

16 Why should we care? Happier people benefit in many ways from positive state of mind: Larger social rewards (more marriage, less divorce, more friends, stronger social support, richer interactions) Superior work outcomes (greater creativity, increased productivity, higher quality of work, higher income) More activity, energy and flow Greater self-control, self-regulatory and coping abilities Bolstered immune system Longer life

17 Positive and Negative processes:
Negative thoughts: give us ability to narrow our responses Positive thoughts: give us ability to expand our responses

18 Broaden and Build theory
Positive emotions help us LEARN MORE: Broadening our awareness by expanding attention and thinking (opening us up) Building our resources for the future by fueling experiential activity (mixing it up) Ex. Viewing media clips and making list of things wanting to do after. Positive clips lead to longer lists. -Fredrickson, 2005

19 What makes you happy?

20 What makes us happy? According to surveys: Marriage Pets
Socializing – especially students Youth Old age Peterson, et. al

21 Happiness Determinants:
Model of Happiness: Argument: Motivation or attitudinal factors offer best route to higher and sustainable levels of happiness Set Point Intentional Activity Circumstances

22 Routes to Happiness: The Pleasant Life: positive emotions about the past, present, and future The Engaged Life: using positive strengths and talents in pursuit of enjoyments The Meaningful Life: using positive strengths in pursuit of belonging to and serving positive institutions

23 The Pleasant Life Hedonic: pursuit of increasing positive emotions / pleasures Most widely accepted definition of happiness, based on perception

24 The Pleasant Life Ways to increase JOY:
Past: gratitude and forgiveness Present: savoring and mindfulness Future: hope and optimism

25 Activity: Name one thing you are: Grateful for? Like to savor?
Hopeful about?

26 Happy-vention #1 Write a gratitude letter and really deliver it

27 What doesn’t make us happy:
Money Minimum amount needed to make people happy is small: basic needs met Giving it away, even small amounts, makes people happier Capitalism plays to short term pleasures Lottery winners return to normal levels within a year Kids

28 Limits to the Pleasant Life
Pleasures are temporary, fleeting Positive emotions have clear limits: Emotions fluctuate, within a genetically-determined range We can only meet so many needs before building tolerance

29 The Engaged Life Pursuit of enjoyments: things that completely absorb us No shortcuts like there are to pleasures Require us to draw on character strengths Not necessarily accompanied by positive emotions aka: FLOW

30 Pleasures vs. Enjoyment: FLOW
feeling of contentment, needs have been met like hunger, sex, and bodily comfort…restoring homeostasis. VS. Enjoyment: breaking through limits of homeostasis, going beyond meeting needs, achieving something unexpected. A sense of novelty, accomplishment, forward movement, complexity and psychological growth. We know we have changed after because enjoyable experiences “stretch us beyond what we were”

31 Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
7 Components of FLOW The Psychology of Optimal Experience and Enjoyment Mihály Csíkszentmihályi

32 Elements of FLOW Time Concentration Focus Concern Control
Challenge & Skill Clear Goals & Immediate Feedback

33 Elements of FLOW 1 – 5 describe it 6 & 7 describe how to enhance it
Not all elements are needed

34 1. Time is altered: Have you ever worked on something for what seemed like minutes but was really hours?

35 2. Concentration People in flow describe themselves as concentrating so hard when they do an activity that they do not notice distractions Described by many as a feeling of being both in and out of control IN because there is no where else you’d rather be and OUT because you’re not exactly sure where it’s going.

36 3. Focus A merging of action and awareness results in feelings of effortlessness and absorption

37 4. Concern for self disappears
FLOW is NOT loss of consciousness loss of self… It is the loss of consciousness of the self…the worry and pathological critic.

38 5. Sense of Control Task allows you to experience a sense of control, even in times of challenge Climbers said they felt more in control climbing the Matterhorn than crossing the street in NYC…why do you think this is?

39 6. Challenge & Skill 1. Challenge: 2. Skill:
too much or too little is disheartening Competition has to bring out personal meaning beyond beating another for it to be enjoyable. 2. Skill: the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult


41 7. Clear Goals & Immediate Feedback
intrinsically rewarding attainable Feedback: Successes and failures during the activity are apparent behavior can be adjusted as needed.

42 Choosing FLOW Activities:
Base choice on individual fit (strength based) and meaning The right choice will motivate you to engage regularly in the activity

43 Personal Application Think of an activity that you engage in right now when you experience flow How do the elements of flow apply: Time? Concentration? Focus? Concern for yourself? Control? Challenge & Skill? Clear Goals & Immediate Feedback ?

44 What does FLOW do for us? Puts us in touch with ourselves: helps us find our interests and boundaries Heightens our of awareness of the environment Helps us stop wasting our psychic energy Reduces our anxiety = #1 IMPEDIMENT TO LEARNING!

45 Maintaining FLOW: MIX IT UP: Mindfully vary & change how you practice the activity (mix up focus and timing in between) to avoid adaptation SAVOR: your choice by making an attitudinal effort of appreciation (count your blessings)

46 The Meaningful Life Requires using our strengths to belong to or serve something larger than ourselves

47 Sense of Purpose / Meaning
How to: Finding purpose, value, and personal worth in one’s activities Being able to fully appreciate emotional and sensory experiences Striving to maintain a positive attitude in face of suffering or loss Meaning requires getting involved in and contributing to community How

48 “Goal-attainment fit”
“Matching” the right activity is important mediating factor to wellness Just because you work out doesn’t mean you like it Adding a mental and social component to fitness = proactive step towards flourishing!

49 What are your strengths?

50 Use them! (happy-vention #2)
Identifying your strengths is great… But using them in new ways is proven to make you happier! (up to 6 months later!) What are some new ways you can use your strengths? Check out: for more ideas

51 Health benefits associated with using strengths: OPTIMISM
Better health habits, better immune functioning, fewer illnesses, less severe illnesses, fewer symptoms of poor health faster recovery from illness and injury, better adjustment to serious illness, decreased psychological illness and distress, tendency to live longer

52 Health benefits associated with using strengths: HOPE
Low hope people are more likely to suffer from depression IBS and Fibromyalgia High hope people believe they can adapt High hope people experience improved physical and psychological well-being

53 Health benefits associated with using strengths: Forgiveness
Benefits of forgiveness: Better blood pressure Healthy muscle tension Better immune function Improved cardiovascular function Improved muscular function Improved nervous system function Less psychological pain Reduced stress Increases in self confidence, compassion, quality of life, and hope

54 Happy-vention #3 Journal 3 good things and their causes each night for a week = 6 months happier!

55 Where do you find Wellness stuff on campus?

56 UCSB’s Wellness Services are provided by different departments all over campus

57 The UCSB Wellness Program brings all together through:

58 The UCSB Wellness Program brings all together through:
WELLNESS CENTERS: Mondays the SRB (with Free Massage) Tuesdays the Library (with Free Massage) Wednesdays the UCEN (with Free Massage)

59 The UCSB Wellness Program brings all together through:

60 The UCSB Wellness Program brings all together through:
Chance to win FREE STUFF just for going to events!

61 The UCSB Wellness Program brings all together through:
WELLNESS INTERNS - two academic classes!

62 The future of prevention:
University approaches focused on wellness provide: Opportunities to use strengths (programs) Motivation to find flow (prizes) Resources that are proactive (centers) Easy access (consolidation)

63 Contact: Sabina White & Mark Shishim
Or come talk to us at Student Health

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