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News from "The Edge"

This page is where we let you know about interesting snippets and things to think about in relation to increasing our emotional well-being from positive psychology, happiness, mindfulness and the like.

There are tips on goal setting, savouring the "good things" in life and events to consider.

We are happy to consider constructive comments and ideas about items to help keep this page alive. Just go to our contacts page and send me an email.

So keep smiling and if you can't (as my yoga teacher used to say) "just take another breath".

Cheers Helen

Snippets

Tips

The best Goals are Smart Goals

We know a lot about how goal-setting can help to give us a sense of direction and motivate us to achieve. But just having a goal is often not enough.

The sorts of goals more likely to motivate us and be achieved are those that are:

  • Personal (they are relevant to you)
  • Specific ( they are clearly defined in terms of the particular outcome you want and the time-frame in which you want to achieve it)
  • Challenging (if they are too easy, they don't motivate us)
  • Realistic (if they are too hard, they don't motivate us)
  • Positive (framed in a way to focus on the benefits) Defined in terms of process as well as outcome (specify strategies for achieving the goal).

When thinking about your goals, be honest with yourself about your values, the things that drive you, your strengths, weaknesses and fears. Think about the risks and threats you face to achieving your goal - what things might tempt you "off the wagon" so to speak, and have a contingency plan. If you break your healthy eating plan one day, does this mean you toss the whole thing in and use it as evidence to justify the label you give yourself as a failure, or can you see it as a simple lapse and get back on the wagon the next day. Step out your goals - if you want to loose a certain amount of weight in the next 12 months, set daily, weekly or monthly goals for yourself that you feel are achievable.

[Source: adapted from Stephanie Hanrahran's (sport psychologist) goal setting model]

Writing your goals down can be important, as can recording your progress to keep the momentum going. Remember to build in the positives - anticipating enjoyable sensory experiences (savouring) helps to get me out on my bike ride each morning and when my motivation is flagging I boost this up with some upbeat music on my diskman.

If you fail at achieving your goal, go back and review the goal in terms of the checklist above. Maybe you were too hard/too easy on yourself afterall.

Perhaps you might just want to build in some ritual activities around making the goal which symbolise the change you are about to make. This might be as simple as buying a new notebook to record the goal and chart your progress, or cleaning your walking shoes/bike, etc.

Savouring the "Good Things"

Savouring refers to our awareness of pleasure and our deliberate attempt to make it last. Experiencing "pleasure" is not just self-indulgence. Rather, it has been identified as one of the three ingredients in living a happy life by positive psychologists, Martin Seligman and others. (The other ingredients are engagement and meaning - being able to use our strengths to a comfortably challenging degree and connecting with something bigger than ourselves such as family, community, etc.)

The bodily pleasures - those we experience through our physical senses - can include such things as good chocolate (and of course an assortment of other taste delights), a massage or swimming in the sea, the smell of the garden or the bush after rain, listening to music we enjoy, looking at a beautiful nature scene or artwork.

The effects of pleasure, however, are often short-lived and can lose their effect if we experience the same pleasure too often. But , we can learn to get more out of our pleasurable experiences through savouring.

Psychologists, Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff, have identified five techniques that promote savouring:

  • Sharing with others: seek out others to share the experience and tell others how much you value the moment - probably the single best way to savour the experience.
  • Memory-building: Take mental photographs or even a physical souvenir of the event and reminisce about it later with others.
  • Self-congratulation: Do not be afraid of pride. Tell yourself how impressed others are and remember how long you've waited for this to happen.
  • Sharpening perceptions: Focus on certain elements and block out others. Articulate the elements as finely as you can. For example, explore the five senses one at a time - what can you see, hear, feel, taste, smell?
  • Absorption: Let yourself get totally immersed and try not the think, just sense. Be in the moment.

Take note of which techniques work best for you. But watch out for "kill-joy thinking" - where you remind yourself of other things you should be doing, of what comes next, or of ways in which your experience might be improved. If "kill-joy thinking" happens, you might use mindfulness techniques to observe and let go of those thoughts, or you might think about what circumstances seemed to trigger it and how you might be able to challenge it next time.

Enjoy!


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