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Positive Psychology and the Messages of Christmas


As the end of 2013 fast approaches we really hope it's been a great year for you. We hope you have experienced many moments of success and are looking forward to your future with optimism and excitement.

Sadly, we know this isn't the case for everyone and perhaps this year hasn't been so great for you. You may have had some unexpected misfortune and still be dusting yourself off and starting again, but that doesn't mean things won't get better. We all run into difficult moments in life that can knock us down. These moments test our mettle and willingness to persevere. Some people fade completely and give up, but for others they continue to push on and achieve their goals despite, and sometimes in spite of, the obstacles.

As this year comes to a close and the Christmas season approaches, remember the message of hope that comes from the spirit of Christmas. Hope for the New Year ahead, our dreams and aspirations for the future, the joy of giving and receiving gifts and spending time with those we love, even simply the break from work. The human strength of hope is what pushes us onward, keeps us motivated and uplifts our attitude so we can stay dedicated to our goals and purpose, even in difficult times.

So what is hope?

Do you energetically pursue your goals each and every day? Are you able to think of many ways around a problem and know you can find a solution? If so, you are a hopeful person.

Hope is trait that helps us to be resilient, persevere and manage stress in life. It leads us to perform better at work or school, enhances our physical health and brightens our outlook of the future.

The Hope Theory developed by University of Kansas Psychologist C. R. Snyder provides insight into where hope comes from and how to enhance it. This theory explores hope as a goal-directed process where reaching our goals can increase our perceived hope for the future.

In other words, we can increase our hope by achieving goals and feeling a sense of control over our environment and competence in what we do.

There are two main aspects that can help us achieve our goals according to this theory. As we pursue our goals, the two determining aspects of achievement and hope are a sense of agency, or willpower, and having a pathway, or waypower.

Willpower is our why - It is the motivation and drive to pursue our life's passions. If you're an ambitious self-starter you probably don't struggle with willpower. However, if you tend to feel drained and uninterested in what you do this may be an area to explore, do you have willpower in another area of your life?

Waypower is the how - It is the route we take and resources needed in order to make our goals a reality. Sometimes we need to develop our ability and skills. Sometimes we need to build a collaborative network to support and bolster our mission. Figure out what it is you need to make a change in the right direction, you could try some coaching to help you work this out. If that sounds like something you'd like to try, give us a call to talk it through.

When we are lacking either the will or the way, it makes the attainment of our goals more difficult and it makes it less likely that we will persevere when obstacles emerge.

How can you get more hope?

Here are two strategies to use for increasing willpower:

If you feel you're lacking in willpower you need to develop greater self-trust and confidence, as well as a more positive attitude and clear vision about what you desire. Focus on past successes, think back on accomplishments when you felt proud of yourself. Focus on these when you become discouraged. Remember the hard work required to achieve these results and get in touch with feelings of courage, inspiration, and curiosity that may have kept you moving. Imagine your best future self: Imagine its 5 years from now; you have achieved all your goals. What does your life look like? What did you do to make this happen? This idea is adapted from psychologist Sonja Lyubormirsky and can help cultivate a positive outlook for the future.

If you are lacking in waypower you need to consider and brainstorm how you can get your needs met. Write down five things you need to achieve your goal. It's easy to overlook resources and opportunities when we're feeling down and out. There are always more options than we realise to get us back on track when we feel stuck. Try asking a friend for instance and talk through a list of what you need.

A high hope person is able to consider numerous pathways when confronted with an obstacle. They don't give-up when problems surface. They stay motivated and are able to find a way.

Whether you're stressed out from all the Christmas preparations, or are going through a difficult life transition, remember the strength and hope that is represented through the Christmas period – whatever you religion or beliefs - and keep pushing through, because with a little hope there will be good times ahead.

Well being


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