The Positive Power of Having a Pet

The Positive Power of Having a Pet

And so the story begins… Nine years ago I was blessed with a cat.  My childhood home only briefly had pets: a puppy which got ill very quickly and had to be put down.  Another puppy, which ran away while we were on holiday, when staying with my aunt and uncle and tropical fish.  A beautiful tank full of colour from the many tropical plants and fish.  I spent most of my childhood living in a pet free zone. So back to the story, nine years ago I was given a beautiful black, white and ginger cat.  The story starts just before and one that started in a spiritualist church.  I attended a service and a medium brought through my grandad, who had been in the spirit world for some time.  I was going through a tough time and the message from this particular medium was to get a cat.  I nodded, thought very strange – I have never thought about having a pet before and left it at that. Power of Hypnotherapy Shortly after this medium’s message, I became very ill with teacher stress.  I am a teacher and had fallen into burn out, which was so extreme, I was admitted into hospital with a suspected mild stroke, because I woke up one morning and the whole of my right side of my body had become numb.  My right side was losing sensation and power and I had no idea why neither did the medical profession as they tested me for a heart attack, a brain tumour, MS and Lupus.  It took three months to physically recover and...
Other People Matter

Other People Matter

The late Chris Peterson, one of the founding fathers of positive psychology would often begin lectures by stating: “I can sum up positive psychology in just three words: Other People Matter. Period. Anything that builds relationships between and among people is going to make you happy”. Research shows that the top 10% of consistently happy people are highly social and have stronger social relationships than less happy people. We humans are social beings. We need other people to have a life that is complete and fulfilling. Strong relationships are important and studies show they make us more optimistic, increase our satisfaction with life and lower our risk of depression. It is not the quantity that matters, but the quality of the friendships. The closer the friendships are the higher the happiness benefits are. It seems that people need at least one good friend that they can share their thoughts and feelings with.  So it is not the dozens of Facebook acquaintances that make us happy, but the real time true friends will. I feel very lucky to have more than one good friend and for me the sign of real friendship is that, even when you have not seen one another for a while, when you meet up again, if feels just like you have met yesterday. You just feel connected wherever you are. Real friendship is about having meaningful and deep conversations, savouring a meal together, go for a drink with friends, or performing an act of kindness, just because you love them. Knowing I am going to meet one of my friends for a nice evening out...
What Is Positive Love?

What Is Positive Love?

Positive Psychology and Love To be or not to be in love? That is the question. Everyone knows love is good for you but what does positive psychology say about. Let’s kick start the process of love with some philosophical references such as Irving Singer (1984) who conceptualised it with as a concept associated with virtuous attributes such as goodness and Godly attributes. Further differentiating it into four components: “Eros”: desire for the beautiful, “Philia”: companionship love, “Nomos”: obedience to ones loved one, and “Agape”: preference of love over spirituality. The variant levels of love are very interesting and divulge humans into thinking about love in a very comprehensive manner. What is passionate love? Another external expression of the feeling of love Hatfield (1988) proposed the true essence of passionate love is an intense attraction that’s entails marriage to that individual. Others extend this element that compassion, passion, satisfaction, friendship and commitment are elements of love too (Sprecher and Regan, 1998). The Zeitgeist of understanding love within an applied adult love attachment theory states that joys and sorrows of childhood come prevalent within adult love experiences (Hazan and Shaver, 1987). The evolutionary theorist postulates that survival of species is dependent upon pro creation and attending to the helpless infant so as to build primitive emotional bonding (Mellen, 1981). Research into love has found that love, companionship, honesty, trust as main features of the notion of love (Regan, Kocan and Whitlock (1998). Others state that the process of love may motivate an inner self expansion process within the individual (Aron and Aron, 1996). Sternberg (1998) is a process of personal...
Positive Relationships with Teenagers

Positive Relationships with Teenagers

“They **** you up, your mum and dad.  They don’t mean to but they do” – Philip Larkin, This Be the Verse I have two teenage daughters aged 13 and 16; when I tell people this, I am often met with a sharp intake of breath – oooo, teenagers, that’s a difficult age!  Potentially it could be and I make no claim to have all the answers or be able to guarantee navigation through the teenage years but they can also be loads of fun. There are certainly some skills from the work of positive psychologists that can be learned that can give you a reasonable chance of a happy and successful relationship. Empathy and understanding of teenage development Firstly, it can be helpful to understand some of the differences between teenagers and adults.  For example, research has shown that teenagers need more sleep (but at different times) from adults, they have a greater urge to take risks, a far more acute sense of embarrassment, a stronger reliance on their peers and friendship group and a great deal of pressure and stress from different sources to those that adults would consider stressful.  These differences, it seems, often relate to the development of the brain and have only come to light since the ability to look into the working human brain using MRI technology  has developed. (Morgan, 2013) (Blakemore, 2012)  This understanding may not only help your sense of empathy but perhaps enhance your curiosity to listen mindfully and communicate compassionately. Mindful listening In the best-selling book ‘How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will talk’ (Faber...
The Positive Impact of Parents and Kids Laughing Together

The Positive Impact of Parents and Kids Laughing Together

As I sit on the plane back to Dubai after my quarterly visit to Iran to visit my kids, I think of all the ways that laughing with my kids has helped our relationship. My situation is slightly different as my kids don’t live with me and I only see them for a week at a time but it works the same and I face the same challenges. Now days our kids are faced with so many ever-changing realities that we never had as kids. They strive to meet the demands of school, college and parents who are always busy and not always able to give them the time and care that they need. Major stress factors in children (Scary – How many of these resonated with you?) Parental & Academic Pressure How much are you pressurizing your kids to constantly perform better? Reaching for unrealistic goals, which are unfulfilled, is leading kids to feel really stressed and it actually proves to be detrimental to their mental and physical health. They are also deprived of strong mental and emotional guidance and role models because parents are just too busy and lack the parenting skills they need. Yes laughter is a solution: As they learn to laugh unconditionally, they learn how to handle the pressure better and laughter also builds self confidence and the ability to handle stress by boosting the immune system and releasing endorphins in the brain which ‘kick start’ that feel good feeling and reduces stress. YAY! Lack of Emotional Bonding Unfortunately, with broken homes and the constant lack of emotional bonding and long term relationships with...
Remembrance – From A Motherless Daughter

Remembrance – From A Motherless Daughter

My mom would have been my rock, my support system, my encourager… …If I had more time with her… When I needed her the most, she was dying. Losing your mother A 25-year-old needs her mother. I still need my mom. Why did I get jipped and left motherless? Mothering myself and finding the feeling of “mom” seemed to be my lifelong quest. I am neither a mother nor a daughter. Saying that makes me feel a vacancy within me. A vacancy that will never be filled. Yet, through the years, I have been fulfilled. Fulfilled with the knowing and feeling that I am cared for. I am loved. Even if not by my own blood. Yet, there is still a void within me. Fending for myself Being a motherless daughter at the age of 25 left me to fend for myself. Left me to seek out motherly advice and guidance from women who didn’t share my DNA. Throughout my life, I sought out family, connection, and womanly advice. It seemed that everyone I knew had a mom. I’d long for my mom when I’d see girls—or women—my age spending time with their moms. Laughing together in the dressing rooms at Marshall Field’s. While I’d overhear them bonding or even bickering, I’d think, “I wish mom was here with me in this cramped, smelly dressing room.” And…“Would mom think this looks good on me?” I would laugh to myself hearing my mom’s laugh in response to my question, “Mom, does this look funny on me?” Would that mother and daughter duo be heading to lunch to celebrate their purchases...