October 30, 2017
Dear LoMA Family,
Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, has a theory that verifies the quote above from Paula Cole. Fredrickson’s theory of accumulating “micro-moments of positivity” shows how daily positive interactions can, over time, result in greater overall well-being and happiness
Her point is not that anyone can avoid feeling sad, angry or frustrated at times; we all do and should. The problem, as she sees it, is how long it takes us to bounce back from such feelings and how we can retain good feelings longer. The good news is that even if we have morose temperaments, nothing is permanent. With practice, we can become happier people, but it does take effort. She offers a few specific ways of increasing our well-being:
- Do good things for other people. In addition to making others happier, this enhances your own positive feelings. It can be something as simple as helping someone carry heavy packages or providing directions for a stranger.
- Appreciate the world around you. It could be a bird, a tree, a beautiful sunrise or sunset or even an article of clothing someone is wearing. Try to find one thing to appreciate on your commute to and from LoMA.
- Develop and bolster relationships. Building strong social connections with friends or family members enhances feelings of self-worth and is associated with better health and a longer life.
- Establish goals that can be accomplished. When you work at improving your grades or singing better, the effort it takes will make you feel better, but be realistic; a goal that is impractical or too challenging can create unnecessary stress.
- Learn something new. It can be a sport, a dance, an instrument or a game that instills a sense of achievement, self-confidence and resilience. But here, too, be realistic about how long this may take and be sure you have the time needed.
- Choose to accept yourself, flaws and all. Rather than imperfections and failures, focus on your positive attributes and achievements. The loveliest people I know have none of the external features of loveliness but shine with the internal beauty of caring, compassion and consideration of others.
- Practice resilience. Rather than let loss, stress, failure or trauma overwhelm you, use them as learning experiences and stepping stones to a better future.
Many of us will have the opportunity to practice resiliency this week. In order to provide more access and opportunity for students and to best utilize our changes in teaching staff, some students will be getting changes to their schedules. This new schedule will be for the year, and will eliminate the need for nearly all mid-year schedule changes while ensuring that all students take the appropriate courses. I wish we did not have to do this at this point of the year, but no one should let it get in the way of his or her success.