(Health Secrets) Many people have a bias against having a positive attitude. They look at a world in chaos and don’t see the value in being hopeful and positive. Positive individuals are stereotyped as childish, naive, and less intelligent. In contrast negative, angry, hostile people position themselves as powerful, claiming to know what is best or what is right for everyone. These individuals feel justified in acting out their anger, believing life will be good once their goals are met. If you want to be in the first group but are afraid you tend toward the second group, hope therapy may be for you.
Hope or Negativity—which is the real power position?
Typically, people who are optimistic or happy are more successful in work, school and sports. They are less depressed, have fewer physical health problems, and have better relationships with other people, according to Martin Seligman, an authority in the field. Their hopeful thinking empowers mind, body, and spirit.
Psychologists have been developing a positive psychology for decades, building on the work of:
- Rogers and Maslow, founders of humanistic psychology
- Wellness and prevention programs from psychologists Albee and Cowen
- Bandura and others’ concepts of self-efficacy and research on gifted individuals
- The broader concepts of intelligence brought forth by Gardner and Sternberg
- Marie Jahoda’s work on well being in its own right, not simply as the absence of disorder or distress
According to Seligman, positive psychology is a scientific study of the individual’s strengths and virtues that enable her/him to thrive. Positive psychology has three central concerns:
- Positive emotions
- Positive individual traits
- Positive institutions
Hope is seem as a dynamic cognitive motivational system.
A hopeful nature enhances mind, body and spirit wellness
Hope is more than optimistic thinking—it is proactive attitude and behavior. The thinking of hope has three distinct components:
- Way power
- Will power
First one creates a clear and compelling mental picture of their goal. Then way power is thinking of numerous ways to achieve that goal (flexible thinking). Will power is tapping into mind and spirit to muster the mental energy to pursue the goal.
Research has shown that people who are able to get what they want out of life are the people who have the greatest hope.
Research shows high hope correlates with:
- Lower levels of depression
- The ability to envision a broader range of goals
- Greater will power and energy
- Ability to generate a greater variety of routes to reach one’s goal
- Academic achievement
The power of hope expresses itself in the spiritual and religious; emotional and mental processing; and in our relationships at work, within families, and in athletic team sports. Essentially hope is ethical and leads to success whether it be monetary, good health, happiness, creativity, or effective work behavior.
When workers lose hope they go through the motions and do just enough work to not get fired. Low hope workers fail to produce the quality and quantity of work they are capable of. Research indicates business goals should be concrete, measurable, realistic and challenging to encourage a hopeful work environment. An environment where workers experience success is more productive with less absenteeism and loafing.
Hope comes into its own when crisis looms, opening us to new creative possibilities. Hope empowers us to a mindset and strategy oriented to success, increasing the chances we will actually accomplish our goals. Positive psychology and hope psychology are very beneficial in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
If you feel ineffective in your own life and somewhat depressed, read C. R. Snyder’s Psychology of Hope: You Can Get Here from There. Snyder presents tools to measure hope, develop hope in ourselves, and nurture hope in our children and our relationships. He gives specific advice on how to envision goals, increase energy for pursuing objectives, and develop a variety of strategies to reach goals.
Snyder explains how neglect, abuse, parental loss, unrealistic expectations, and inconsistent parenting can erode a child’s ability to envision goals or develop strategies to reach goals. He provides practical, research-based information on how hope can be fostered in children and adults.
Research shows high hope correlates positively with being able to cope with severe burns, arthritis, spinal cord injury, fibromyalgia, and blindness. High hope individuals remain energized during the recuperative process. Those with high hope experience less pain and tolerate pain well twice as long as those with low hope.
Characteristics of hope therapy:
- Perceived obstacle are grounded in reality, not misunderstanding or negativity.
- Hope can be measured; it is not optimistic guesswork.
- Hope can be developed.
- Hope can be found in stories of struggle and success.
- Hope is evident in our daily language; positive affirmations change brain chemistry.
- Therapeutic relationships are hopeful relationships.
- Hopeful relationships can be developed in peer group and family.
- Counseling groups create hopeful bonding.
- Helpers can prevent burnout via hopeful consultation.
- Hope profiling can crystallize and build on hopeful memories.
- Reflecting on mentors and heroes can boost will power.
- Hope interventions can be conducted anytime, anyplace.
- Hopeful reconnections (family/friends) help us recall hopeful pathways.
- Hope is enhanced through formal programming—(affirmations, neuro-linguistic techniques).
- Hope can be shared vicariously; interact with hopeful people.
- Hope talk can be used to share hope.
- Enhance hope by making small changes and practicing these changes.
High hope individuals remember more positive comments about events and themselves while those with lower levels of hope remember more negative comments and events. Those with high hope feel challenged by goals, while people with low hope feel demoralized by goals. High hope correlates with higher feelings of self-worth.
High hope correlates with resilience. General George W. Casey, Jr., the army chief of staff and former commander of the multinational force in Iraq, ordered an initiative to measure resilience and teach positive psychology to create a force as psychologically fit as it is physically fit. This $145 million initiative, under the direction of Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, is called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) and consists of three components based on PERMA: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.
According to Seligman, “how human beings react to extreme adversity is normally distributed. On one end are the people who fall apart into PTSD, depression, and even suicide. In the middle are most people, who at first react with symptoms of depression and anxiety but within a month or so are, by physical and psychological measures, back where they were before the trauma. That is resilience. On the other end are people who show post-traumatic growth. They too first experience depression and anxiety, often exhibiting full-blown PTSD, but within a year they are better off than they were before the trauma [due to resilience training].”
Research on positive psychology reveals:
• Wealth is only weakly related to happiness, particularly when income is above the poverty level
• Activities that make people happy in small doses – such as shopping, good food and making money – do not lead to fulfillment in the long term.
• Engaging in an experience that produces ‘flow’ is so gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake, rather than for what they will get out of it. The activity becomes its own reward. Flow is experienced when one’s skills are sufficient for a challenging activity, in the pursuit of a clear goal, with immediate feedback on progress toward the goal. In such an activity, concentration is fully engaged in the moment, self-awareness disappears, and sense of time becomes distorted.
• People who express gratitude on a regular basis have greater physical health, optimism, progress toward goals, well-being, and help others more.
• Trying to maximize happiness can lead to unhappiness.
• People who witness others perform good deeds experience an emotion called ‘elevation’ and this motivates them to perform their own good deeds.
• Optimism can protect people from mental and physical illness.
• People who report more positive emotions in young adulthood live longer and healthier lives.
• Physicians experiencing positive emotion tend to make more accurate diagnoses.
• Healthy human development can take place under conditions of great adversity due to a process of resilience that is common and completely ordinary.
• There are benefits associated with [self-revealing] writing. Individuals who write about traumatic events are physically healthier than control groups that do not. Individuals who write about the perceived benefits of traumatic events achieve the same physical health benefits as those who write only about the trauma. Individuals who write about their life goals and their best-imagined future achieve similar physical health benefits to those who write only about traumatic events. Further, writing about life goals is significantly less distressing than writing about trauma, and is associated with enhanced well being.
•People typically overestimate how long they will be sad following a bad event, such as a romantic breakup, yet fail to learn from repeated experiences that their predictions are wrong.
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Photo by Jan Tik