Thursday, January 22, 2009

Taking Care of Ourselves: A look at Positive Emotion Research

The writing below is one of my favorite inspirational passages, posted on the University of Carolina Chapel Hill Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab website. I am a huge fan of Barbara Fredrickson and her Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions.

http://www.unc.edu/peplab/purpose.html

You have -- within you -- the fuel to thrive and to flourish,
and to leave this world in better shape than you found it.
Sometimes you tap into this fuel – other times you don’t.
But the sad fact is that most people have no idea
how to tap into this fuel or even recognize it when they do.
Where is this fuel within you?

You tap into it whenever you feel energized and excited by new ideas.
You tap into it whenever you feel at one with your surroundings, at peace.
You tap into it whenever you feel playful, creative, or silly.
You tap into it whenever you feel your soul stirred by the sheer beauty of existence.
You tap into it whenever you feel connected to others and loved.
In short, you tap into it whenever positive emotions resonate within you

The Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill exists to answer a single question: 'What good is it to feel good?' Our purpose is to understand and to share the full significance of positive emotions.

We have three core ideals:
• To do high-quality science
• To answer questions that matter to humanity, and
• To have fun and feel good about doing it.

Our goal is to uncover the universal recipe for human flourishing and to give this recipe as a gift to the world. Our science to date tells us that genuine positive emotions may in fact be the single most important active ingredient in this recipe for flourishing. When this ingredient is lacking, or in poor supply – people get stuck. They lose their freedom of choice. They become stagnant and painfully predictable. But when this ingredient is in ample supply – people take off. They become generative, creative, resilient, ripe with possibility and beautifully unpredictable.
Our research team is working to show how it is that being moved by positive emotions can move you forward, and not only lift you to your higher ground, but also create a world that is worth giving to our children.

I think that the ideas expressed above are key to providing an opportunity for children to flourish. We must take action to create opportunities for ourselves to grow and thrive so that we have something to give to our children.

Here are some ways I have incorporated these ideas:

  • I have experienced the power of playfulness with my Kindergarten class as I sing the good morning song with my monkey puppet, Mr. Monkey.
  • I have witnessed the way children feel loved and connected when I use the puppet to give them a good morning hug as we sing together.
  • I try to pursue my creative outlets anytime I can! I spent countless hours making cards for the holidays, making big messes and letting my creative soul wander.
  • I play games with my own college kids when they come to visit: we play Scattergories and laugh about how hard it is to come up with different answers when you are of "like minds".
  • I teach sight words in my classroom with "Silly Songs for Sight Words." I encourage my students to come up with their own silly lyrics!
  • I stop my car along the ocean each morning as I begin my journey to work. I listen to the beautiful roar and watch the waves, savoring the magnificence of nature.
  • I share my passions, soapboxes and ideas with anyone who will listen!
  • I feel incredibly blessed and at peace as I write this, knowing that despite the fact that the rain woke me during the night, I have fueled myself in a positive direction by writing and releasing my creative energy.

1 comment:

Ed Shepherd said...

What an inspiring post. It is refreshing to see how you work to stay positive and share these feelings in any way possible with everyone. You are absolutely right and it is amazing to see how the power radiating positive emotions within yourself can often help others rise up even when they "thought" they were feeling down!