Positivity Touch Points
written by Michelle Schroeder – Lowrey for Pebble Tossers (part one of a three-part series)
Michelle Schroeder-Lowrey is an artist educator specializing in music, movement and drama at Columbus Academy. Michelle is a CAPP certified Positive Psychology Practitioner and recently completed certification as a Resiliency Trainer at The Flourishing Center in NYC. Her love of learning has taken her as far as Australia and as close as downtown Columbus. Michelle is passionate about educating people about the benefits of living life with purpose using the principles of PERMA-V and the VIA Character Strengths. She is a proud wife and mother and a founding member of Available Light Theatre and holds a BA in Theatre from The Ohio State University.
It is something we often talk about in a longing way… “I wish we just had time to slow down and be together.” Or “We are never all home at the same time!” And now, EVERYONE is home. Only, this isn’t the “slowing down” we were talking about, right? So, what do we do now that we are all home- TOGETHER- in new, uncertain, unplanned for circumstances with so many questions, feelings and fears running around in our heads and hearts?
In Positive Psychology we talk a lot about the parts of our life we can “control.” It’s a short list really – I can control: what I feel, what I think and what I do. That’s it. That is the list. Some research suggests that up to 40% of our overall happiness is controllable by what we feel, think, and do. Keep in mind that it’s not what happens to us that affects our thoughts, feelings and actions – it’s how we interpret what’s happening. Our brains are wired to go negative. It’s how our species has survived thousands of years. Negativity bias keeps us questioning, it’s our “spidey sense” that reminds us that maybe walking into that dark, tiger infested forest or eating those red berries isn’t the best idea. In our modern world, there are fewer tigers and many apps that help us understand the dangers of our world – but our brains still want to protect us. So, reframing our natural tendency towards pessimistic thinking to an optimistic thinking style lays a foundation for positive problem-solving. Instead of: “We are all stuck at home forever and I’m never prepared for situations like this. I will never get any work done.” SAY: “This is a tough, temporary situation. I’ve survived 100% of the stay at home, unexpected sick days in my life. I can handle this.”
Giving ourselves and others “permission to be human” is what positive psychology is all about. This may sound silly, but under extreme circumstances, many of us immediately put on our capes and fly around attempting to leap tall buildings (or teen angst) in a single bound – and the reality is: we are human not superheroes. And humans have feelings. Humans make mistakes. Humans lose their patience. Humans cry. Humans need rest. Humans need exercise and good food. Humans are humans. So, start here: I give myself permission to be human. AND I give my child, partner, loved ones and others in my world the same permission. By granting ourselves this permission we are able to generate compassion for others and for ourselves. And boy howdy, do we need some compassion for ourselves and others right now. The others include our partners, children and loved ones as well as grocery store clerks, postal workers and healthcare providers. Patience with ourselves and others will go a long way right now.