In part one, Transitioning into Motherhood, I explored my pregnancy journey. This blog – December 2022, marks the first anniversary of the death of my beloved cat Bella. She was part of our family for eleven wonderful years and this blog honours her memory.
Bella entered our home in 2010. A cute kitten, full of energy and love. The decision to become a pet owner was due to my burnout experience months before. During my recovery, I knew I had to change my lifestyle. The classic I am a teacher and the system broke me. I wanted a reason, that when I returned home from work, I had something else to focus on rather than trying to use that time to complete a never-ending to do list, that I had no hope of ever fulfilling. Someone suggested having a cat.
So, the journey of Bella and I began.
How does Positive Psychology apply?
If we take the PERMA model that underpins Positive Psychology, having pets really activates each component.
Positive Emotions: The happiness, the laughter, the compassion and the love that exist between a pet and its owner is flourishing in its abundance. I am talking about owners who have unconditional love for their pets. The action of caring for your pet produces Oxytocin, the ‘love drug’ within the brain. All those cuddles produce a steady stream of Oxytocin, that helps combat stress and depression. Obviously, when they depart this world for the next, the loss is incredibly painful due to the fact you loved them so much.
Positive Engagement: This component requires you to be present in the moment. Your mind is not wandering onto other things other than what you are doing right at that specific moment of time. I found this one difficult at first as multi-tasking was a key attribute in how I managed my life. When you give yourself permission to enter what is known as the flow state it has a positive effect on your mental health. This can be fully present while feeding your pet, playing, cuddling and so on.
Positive Relationships: If you have a relationship based on love and compassion with clear and healthy boundaries you have positive relationships. Bella use to greet me when I returned home. She would either sit at the front window or she would run across our extension and jump down and sit herself on our front garden wall. When my now husband moved in with Bella and me, if he was home before me, he would know when I was due home as Bella would tell him. This is something I missed so much when she passed. What a moment to create a smile in you, when someone is happy you are home.
Positive Meaning: I believe there is nothing more meaningful in life than being the light for someone else and they ignite the light within you simply based on sharing this life together.
Positive Accomplishment: The accomplishment was that I created 11 happy years for Bella. She was very poorly in the end and I decided to bring her home so we could say goodbye. Her death occurred during Covid and I would not have had the opportunity to kiss her goodbye due to all the restrictions put in place. My husband and I are mediums, so I knew I had made the right decision to bring her home. She had another 17 days with us. The night she died I felt compelled to read the bible, so as she sat without much life left, I read her the bible while stroking her fur. She gave me this very loud cry. In the morning when I woke, she had passed and she looked so peaceful. Just as in her life she knew the tremendous love I had for her, which was mirrored in helping her travel over that rainbow bridge.
Am I crying while writing this – ABSOLUTELY! A duality of sadness because she is no longer here and complete joy because she was here. I want to thank her because I now share this love with my baby and a new cat Sapphire. Let the love flow. Not only within this world but between this world and the one where all our loved ones go.
· Hoare, E., Bott, D., & Robinson, J. (2017). Learn it, Live it, Teach it, Embed it: Implementing a whole school approach to foster positive mental health and wellbeing through Positive Education. International Journal of Wellbeing, 7(3), 56–71. https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v7i3.645
· Kristjánsson, K. (2012). Positive Psychology and Positive Education: Old Wine in New Bottles? Educational Psychologist, 47(2), 86–105. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2011.610678
· Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: a visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Atria Paperback.
· Seligman, M. E. P. (2019). Positive Psychology: A Personal History. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 15(1), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050718-095653
Read more about Kelly Seaward-Ding and her other articles HERE
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