Based on Learned Optimism (LO), what follows is my article on pleasures, gratifications, strengths, virtues, and their application in practice. Optimistic people have the strength to interpret life falls as something temporary. This strength can be learned. The sooner in life a person learns this skill, the better it is, because this skill is inversely proportional to depression. Considering that most depression is treated with chemical anti-depressants, learned optimism could decrease the intake of pharmaceuticals. Learned Optimism (LO) is directly proportional to hope. There is a reliable method to learn optimism, which consists of identifying and objecting pessimistic thoughts, as if they were people’s opponents. This dispute process will trigger new, creative and supportive beliefs. Gratification happens when people successfully defeat a challenge, after using their own strengths. Strengths and virtues are positive because they bring happiness, optimism and gratification.
Furthermore, there are two types of pleasures: physical and higher. Higher pleasures are cognitive. It is possible to enhance pleasures. Pleasures come and go. People can elongate pleasure by savoring. Savoring is the awareness of pleasure. It is possible to savor by: sharing, remembering, utilizing mind maps, and images, self-congratulating, sharpening perceptions and getting immersed into something at one hundred per cent, blocking out the rest. There are physical gratifications, such as eating a slice of cake, and there are emotionally based gratifications, such as helping a handicapped person cross the street. Pleasure is a positive emotion. Physical pleasure is related to consumption. When there is emotional pleasure, there is growth. Easy pleasures do not call on strengths and do not present challenges. Depression is self-absorption. Gratification is loss of feelings, loss of awareness and total immersion.
In addition, character comes somewhat from the environment. Sciences must be descriptive. Positive Psychology must describe or offer information on the effects of traits, such as the optimistic trait. Each person, depending on their values and goals, may use the provided information in different ways. The following strengths and virtues are appreciated in all cultures and historical times:
Virtues are challenging to measure for psychologists; therefore, strengths of character, by which people reach virtues, are proposed.
It is possible and easy to identify one person’s signature strengths, so that the person can build them and use them in all areas of life. Each person owns several signature strengths. If one or more criteria, such as, this is the real “me” apply, then someone’s top strengths, are signature strengths. It is best to use them as frequently and in as many settings as possible. If people use their own top strengths in all areas of life, then people will truly attract abundance and a great life.
For instance, my top signature strengths are:
1. Curiosity and interest in the world
2. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
3. Humor and playfulness
5. Fairness and perseverance
Some people are not happy at work, despite big salaries. Work, love, and other life areas are much more than transactions, or much more than offer and demand. Married people are less depressed than people who never got married. Breaking up is one of the major causes of distress. Marriage is important for reproductive purposes. Children from stable families do better in life than children who come from broken families. The way a person sees his mother, during childhood, affects his relationships with significant others later in life. Secure adults remember their parents as available, have high self-esteem, strive for romantic love and sex with whom they love, and are honest with their feelings. In addition, avoider adults remember their mother as cold, suspect others, are emotionally detached, have casual sex, and do not express their emotions. Finally, anxious people remember their fathers as unjust, feel of control, are afraid of rejection, flaunt their negative emotions, and if they are females, prefer unusual types of sex, and, if males, do not have much sex. Obviously secure people are most likely to have successful relationships. Just like anything, Positive Psychology can make a good marriage better by having people use their signature strengths. Usually, people end up taking for granted the strengths that initially attracted them to their significant others. Divorce predictors are:
1. Initial disagreement
5. Missing validation
6. Closed body language
Stable marriages predictors are:
1. Letting each other know what you will be doing
2. Resuming with dialogue
4. Keeping weekly dating times
Using your own strengths, or living up to the best people can be, is gratifying. Happy couples focus on the strengths and see those strengths even bigger than they are! Optimistic couples do well. It is important to have optimistic explanations for everything people do in life and for all areas of their lives. Optimism, such as finding a positive explanation to a negative event, helps marriage. Optimistic couples do not engage in hot-button issues, whereas unstable couples often do. Optimistic couple talk in “I” language, listen well, and paraphrase. For instance, since the strength of loving and be loved is not one of my signature strengths, I need to work at it.
There are three techniques to successful and positively raise kids:
1. Encourage positive emotions for IQ and EQ
2. Keep up the positive emotion momentum
3. Recognize and accept that the traits kids show are like their strengths.
Seligman suggest eight methods to build positive emotions in raising children:
1. Sleep with babies
2. Play synchrony games, such as, if one smiles, all people around will then smile, too
3. Use toys that match what the specific babies do, their skills, and intelligence
4. Limit “No’s”
5. Reward, no punishment. Don’t feed siblings rivalry by giving a lot of love to everyone
6. Spend time with your kids before they fall asleep. Making sure dreams are pleasant
7. Make deals
8. Keep them accountable on their goals and New Year’s resolutions
It is important to nurture and build children’s strengths.
Finding out your own strengths give lives meaning and purpose, a sense of direction and fulfillment, to make life worth living. People’s strengths are their passion and life purpose. Their strengths make lives meaningful, positive and optimistic to them.
For the past 50 years, psychology as a discipline has been focused on measuring and relieving mental illnesses. Counter intuitively, psychology has been less focused on the strengths of life and on life quality, happiness, meaning and improvement. Positive psychology aims to increase positive emotions. Positive psychologists believe in authentic happiness. The subconscious explains a vast part of emotions, and subsequent behavior, including happiness. Strength and virtue are rooted into positive motivation, and that authentic happiness comes from one’s strengths. Positive Psychology studies positive emotions, positive traits and positive institutions.
During hard times, such as 9/11, people’ strengths and positive emotions help people get through those time, more than anything else. Personally, I lost my housemate John in the World Trade Center, during 9/11. The best therapists focus on the person’s strengths and virtues. My heart virtues are inspiring and empowering people to be the best they can be. I am so highly committed to those heart virtues that I base every decision I make on them. Positive Psychology is optimistic as it believes in always finding solutions. Being a certified coach, that is exactly what I practice, as well.
Research suggests correlations between happiness and longevity and between optimism and longevity. There is genuine or authentic happiness and there is fake happiness. Everyone has the right to be happy. Some people resort to “shortcuts” perceived as happiness, such as drugs, etc. Emotions come and go, but personality traits or virtues or strengths are permanent. It is easy to see one’s strengths during hard times in life (phasic versus tonic). Life success is determined by whether one person uses his or her strength or strengths. A good life happens when own strengths are used consistently.
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