(originally titled: The Only Thing We Know For Sure Is That We Don’t Know Anything For Sure) Most of you who read my blog know that I am an optimist. I also believe in the power of positive thought. The way I see it, positive thought is different from positive thinking because just thinking of things doesn’t always affect them. But when you change your thoughts (or mindset) about things, it usually spurs the actions that lead to change. So imagine my delight when I came across the work of Ellen J. Langer who not only reinforces that idea about “thoughts,” but also offers research to support them. Calling on what she labels the “psychology of possibility,” Langer says that it “first requires that we begin with the assumption that we do not know what we can do or become.” In other words, the only thing we know for sure is that we can’t know anything for absolute certain. [Read more…]
Most of us are familiar with the idea that trauma, especially extreme trauma like war, rape or life-threatening illness, can lead to a condition called PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome.) But what many might not realize is that many people who have experienced those extreme tragedies not only learn to cope and adapt but actually manage to thrive. Called Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) these resilient people appear to be both “antifragile” and “stress inoculated.” Best of all, this mindset allows them to do better than “bounce back” from whatever trauma they have experienced, but rather to “bounce forward” in strong and meaningful ways.
It occurred to me the other day that many people I know are experiencing a certain degree of PTSD during the last several months. Perhaps the SMARTest thing any of us can do would be to cultivate the possibility of PTG into our everyday lives so that we adjust, learn and create something new and better in the days ahead. [Read more…]
A couple of months ago I received a recommendation on Amazon that caught my eye. The title was Succeed—How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. Frankly, the title didn’t impress me much. Haven’t we all read too many books that claim the same thing, only to nod in agreement while stifling a yawn? What hooked me instead were the reviews. Dozens of reviewers said, “It’s a smart, fun, highly practical look at what we ‘scientifically’ know about setting and achieving goals.” As a person who enjoys learning why people do what they do (or don’t do what they should do), this book backs up its claims with scientific research. And while the pursuit of goals is the focus of the book, it is done in terms of behavior psychology and research. In fact, a key strategy to learning how a person pursues a goal is to discover whether they like to “Be-Good” or “Get-Better.” That choice says a lot about us and often determines whether or not we eventually succeed. [Read more…]