(B)e (I)n (T)he (E)xperience – BITE
If you are learning about Positive Psychology, you will find a lot of technical aspects highlighting the ought to be’s or the should be’s of getting to a point of feeling happiness or happier. “Go to Disneyland, try a yoga class, try a cooking class, join a club etc.” These are all great avenues to explore but they are one dimensional and do not address the engagement factors of what we as humans crave; positive interaction and feedback.
While living in Hawaii, I was asked how anyone could possibly be unhappy living in Hawaii. The beauty, the music, the food are all incredible; a true paradise. But, Hawaii is just the setting for the experience, not the full interactive experience itself. I have also lived in poverty-stricken places where living is day to day. Again, I have been asked how people there could find happiness given the difficult living conditions. It is not always about the backdrop that surrounds us, but the positive engagement in the moment experiences we take in and use to invigorate and empower our sense of being human.
Shift- Take a BITE
By acknowledging the SHIFT- one-dimensional environment to multi-dimensional experience, it allows us to realize and stockpile the positive benefits of the experience. I recall many moons ago, while stationed in the Philippines, being invited to my first “local” pig-roast gathering. Upon arriving I was quickly ushered to the kitchen where all the ladies were making lumpia and pancit. Without any conversation, a huge tray was set in front of me and I was given a ten-second talking-hand “how-to” tutorial for making lumpia and pancit. In the next hours, through broken English and my quirky animated hand gesturing, there was nothing but sheer joy and laughter (mostly at my inability to make lumpia).
Several years later, I was stationed back in the United States. For a retirement gathering, at my house, I decided to show off my lumpia-making skills. I bought all the ingredients, rolled the lumpia and prepared over 120 pieces (minus the several tasters I had along the way). While I enjoyed it, it was not the same. I did not have the laughter, the banter, the exchange with others. Even watching the approving faces, upon eating my masterpieces it did not seem to have much of an effect. I felt as if I was on the outside of the past experience.
During the party, one lady asked for the recipe. Overhearing this, another guest chimed in and asked the same thing. I gave them the recipe and asked if they wanted to come the next day to learn how to make lumpia. By this time many ears had popped up and I had over a dozen people coming back to the house the next day to roll lumpia. The Banter, the laughter, the engagement, it was all back in full force. In a single moment, there it was, the experience gave rise to the many positive and fun feelings that I had recalled from over a decade ago.
Walk into life
I don’t know about you, but at times I feel like I am walking through life rather than into life. When I walk through life I feel as if I am that solitary person watching from a speeding train; just a blur. When I feel I have walked into life, I feel as if I am a part of of something bigger; enjoying the incredible experiences that filter in through all of my senses. It is like holding my arms out and allowing the energy to flow in. Whether it is a big or small experience, here is my dare to you, take a BITE, what have you got to gain?
About the author: Dr. Lynn Soots has been teaching psychology at the higher education level for over ten years. She is proud to integrate Positive Psychology applications in each of her courses to support growth and student goal attainment. She specializes in higher education online course room design, adult learning, and diversity appreciation.
‘We are the Positive Psychology People’