When bloggers are the secret to success

I enjoy helping others. It’s been evident through a lot of activities in my life. I was involved with a voluntary group for many years, I chose to go through an education in psychology as I have an interest in how people work, what motivates them, and what I can do to be involved in that. It was during this process I realised in particular I liked working with groups of people above all else. As long as I had a clear idea, a plan, and specific outcome, I could get the group there. I look back on this reflection and see that I was practicing this strength all along. It’s not a sudden realisation, it’s one I’ve always known about.

In recent years I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a group of people who have the ability to see where there is something good and positive and are willing to encourage it. There’s something in that. There’s something in the power of a community that I want to give props to.

Last year I decided to hold a workshop on Positive Psychology. It’s a topic I knew enough about to push some of my own personal boundaries, and practice my strength all at the same time. One of the things which was key in this endeavour was raising awareness. I was starkly aware that even though I have a fair following on Twitter and LinkedIn, I would only be able to attract a certain number. I needed to reach more people.

So I got in touch with people I could rely on who write a regular blog. The response I had was generous and most kind. I was truly touched that people who had no reason to help spread the word about my personal project, were willing to help me make it happen.

David Goddin decided to host a guest series on his blog asking people about positive practices in coaching. David, thank you.

Doug Shaw opened his blog for a first come first serve approach when he wrote a post on Positively Psyched. Doug, thank you.

Rob Jones offered the same on his blog asking people to give him a funny reason why he should attend in his post on The One With the Mumbo Jumbo. Rob, thank you.

Vera Woodhead was also very kind and she wrote a post about Connectedness: relationships for a better future. Vera, thank you.

And Donald Taylor joined in by helping to answer the question Are you happy? Happiness, work and good business. Donald, thank you.

It would be remiss of me to not mention Martin Couzins and Mervyn Dinnen. They both attended the session in an official capacity as bloggers. Martin collated a round up of posts in his Round-up of coverage from Positive Psychology in Application. Merv wrote a piece on the Jobsite blog called Introduction to Positive Psychology. Martin and Mervyn, I thank you both.

There were subsequent posts written and shared about the event, and I’m grateful that people took to doing this of their own volition.

If it wasn’t evident, this post is simply to say thank you to these bloggers, and what they helped me to achieve.

Are you interested in applying your creativity in an interesting way? I’m asking people to get involved in Learning Stories to see if they can produce a story about learning which inspires someone to act. The deadline for submission is March 21st 2013. Fancy a challenge?

The Gratitude Visit

Saying thank you is such an interesting cultural phenomenon. I’ve ingrained it into my five year old twins that they say thank you when someone does something nice for them. Even my two year old daughter has learned this thing. It’s seen as common courtesy in most Western cultures for pretty much any ‘transaction’ that takes place. From buying your groceries to being served to speaking on the phone to being picked up from the station. It’s just something we do.

So powerful is this simple turn of phrase in fact that when done genuinely, the recipient often doesn’t know how to receive it. Thanks for taking the time to answer my query. Thanks for hearing my side of the story. Thanks for changing your plans to spend time with me. Thanks for delivering on time when you said you would. Thanks for lending me that money for lunch. We mean those words, because the person did something meaningful for us.

In Positive Psychology, one of the techniques taught is about carrying out a gratitude visit. Keep in mind, that the range of techniques used from Positive Psychology are about helping increase the long lasting effect of well-being and feeling good about oneself. Also bear in mind, Positive Psychology is about therapy, and as such involves requiring patients to carry out interventions. With that in mind, let’s carry on. In its purest form the gratitude visit is this:

Through conversation, you encourage Bob to reflect on moments in his life where someone did something that made a positive difference in his life. Bob may identify more than one person, and he needs to focus on one of these people. Through further exploration you need Bob to explain exactly how this person made a difference in his life. That’s the first step.

The intervention requires that Bob goes to meet this person, and explain his gratitude about the difference made in Bob’s life. It is often advised to script this out so you’re clear on what needs to be said. This is the hard bit. Can you imagine it? Having to visit someone with the explicit intention of letting them know why they’ve made a difference in your life? Face to face. With full wavering of voice, face full of emotion, shaking hands, the whole nervous wreck. I’m nervous just thinking about doing this – and I’m awesome at delivering face to face messages.

The lasting effects of such an action are felt months after the act. Read that again. The lasting effects of such an action are felt months after the act. That’s how awesome this intervention is.

Some things to be careful and mindful of. This needs strong support in the whole journey. Bob can’t just be left to his own devices after the event. Not that he’ll derail, but because you have to be able to articulate what’s happened, its importance to you, and what it meant for you. Bear in mind, this is largely used as a therapy technique.

So how do we make this more practical and less intense? Well here’s an option.

Take pen to paper. Or fingers to the keyboard, but that’s such a weak saying. Do the lite version of this right now. Like this.

Think of someone who has made a difference to you, and caused you to do something different. Articulate it in words. Send it to them. And that’s it.

If you get a response, wouldn’t that be wonderful? That lasting effect of feeling good is just waiting around the corner.

So, here’s my gratitude.

David Goddin, thank you in recent times for being someone I can turn and talk to when I have needed it. You have shown me such patience and empathised with me that I am only able to say thank you. I enjoy our conversations, and enjoy the way you help me build on my thinking. I enjoy knowing that I have in you a friend whom I trust implicitly even though we’ve only connected in the last year. Sometimes life brings along a friend you didn’t know you needed, and I regard you a friend.

What do you reckon? Comment below, and share who you would like to say thank you to.

On Friday 17th August I’m running an event called Positive Psychology in Application. It’s going to cover a range of topics to do with Positive Psychology like the one in this post. Book now to attend and learn more.

>Being positive takes effort

>I write often about positive psychology and the very practical applications it offers to help people realise and understand how they can act differently if they wish to lead more ‘happier’ lives. Now, ‘happier’ is always a subjective term, and no-one can dictate to you, how happy you should be, this is a judgement you need to make for yourself. But, if you do wish to be happier, there are some very easy, very practical things you can go.

Before I launch into the different kinds of activity you should think about, let me stress this. This isn’t a one trick pony. In order to achieve a more positive state of mind, or be happier, it takes concerted effort, and you need a strong support network. Be that friends, family, work colleagues, or professional help, someone needs to help you on this journey. Without a support network this will be a truly difficult task.

Additionally, extensive research has been carried out into the tangible effects of acting in the ways listed below. The research shows positive changes in a person’s own sense of positivity over a period of time, how positive they are about others, and whether or not, the practices hold a lasting effect. I’ll not cite the various pieces of research as I’m in a rush. But, and I will hold my name to this, I would not be suggesting the things below, if I didn’t believe it.

I’ve written before about writing 3 good things at the end of the day. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see I try to do this, and you’ll also see how infrequently I do it. It’s a very easy thing to do for a short while. As a continued effort though, it does take practice before you remember to do it regularly. In honesty, I think about my #3goodthings most nights, I just don’t write it down. And that’s the hey part, because you’re articulating it rather than thinking it.

A gratitude visit is a very powerful way to raise your sense of positivity. This essentially entails you taking the time to visit one person and let them know why you’re thankful they’re part of your life. This doesn’t have to be a regular weekly or monthly activity, but it does need to happen at least once or twice over a long period of time. What this helps to do is raise your confidence in being able to appreciate those in your life, and expressing it in a way which is meaningful to both you and the receiver.

Act in small ways which are unselfish. It doesn’t take a lot to give someone the time of day, or to help answer a query. But in this busy world we fool ourselves into thinking that someone else will do it. Yes, maybe they will. But should that stop you from doing it too? No. There are few people I know who truly act without expectation of the same for them. And for that I will always hold them in high regard.

One of the most powerful ways to help you and others around you feel good, is by smiling. So much is associated with a genuine smile. This is pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re not one for doing this, have a look at those around you who do, and consider how much of an impact they have on those around them.

And that’s where I stop. Four things you can do to help raise your level of positivity and how you think about being happy.