Louis Alloro, M.Ed., MAPP '08, is a cofounder of a 6-month Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology Program, Fellow at the Center for Advancement of Wellbeing at George Mason University, and founder of SOMO Leadership Labs, a community intervention. Web site. Full Bio.
Articles by Louis are here.
What Have We Seen This Month?
As we enter a new era in the American political landscape, the promise of change is in the air, as Derrick Carpenter so eloquently says. Like all promises, though, this one can lead to false expectations if we fail to recognize that lasting change has to come from within each of us, individually. It is a choice.
Dave Shearon’s simple framework “to happier” helps create a positive intention: “Hi, my name is Louis, I want to be happier, and I’m willing to work on it.” John Yeager’s piece takes this intention to will and says that while wishing is important, developing new habits in the direction of that wish is the key to a successful change process. Interestingly, it’s also at the very heart of hope theory.
In a very hopeful piece, Aren Cohen beautifully illustrates the importance of getting clear on what it is you want and then using all senses to visualize how getting that “wish” would look, feel, smell, and even taste: “How sweet it is!,” she says.
Margaret Greenberg and Senia Maymin suggest that it becomes necessary to pay attention to the questions we ask. Our inclination to focus on deficit or weakness means we must intentionally look for and appreciate what is already good in ourselves and each other. Finally, Marie-Josée Salvas urges us to activate our right brains to design pathways to achieving change. She argues that leadership in this age requires a connection to our emotional selves and thus, to each other.
Making Change In Relationship to Others
Let’s consider that leadership is shared, that leadership requires we each “be the change” we wish to see in the world. But when we change ourselves, it is important that we invite those in our spheres of influence in, unlike the anonymous quip, “We changed and forgot to tell each other.” How do you invite someone to observe your change and be part of that change? This happens daily when you have energetic and joyful dialogue with others about your visions, hopes, needs, and desires. I call this “relational responsibility.”
Perhaps I take relational responsibility so seriously because I have a twin. When I think about the dynamics of our inception, I get goose bumps: two sperm winning the race at the same time. A true win-win in a Wrightian sense of nonzero sum.
My twin sister Christine also happens to be my best friend. When I see her becoming a better person, I want to become a better person. This year, she launched her own business, and is working tirelessly each day to ensure its success. In a sense, her success is my success. Her love for her business is my love. It is shared energy.
Making Change When Forgiveness Is Hard
Surely, this energy is not always positive, as Bridget Grenville-Cleave writes. Like all relationships, ours has trying times. When those moments arise, though, I try to remember my responsibility to flourish. Certainly, this is not easy to do when I am living in my lower self – angry, fearful, and resentful, states of being I’d rather avoid.
Psychologist Michael McCullough reminds us that forgiveness is pro-social motivational change on the “victim’s” part. When we feel someone has wronged us, it is hard to be the bigger person. Deciding to forgive enables us to move away from avoidance and revenge, towards more positive possibilities for that relationship. Again, this is an individual choice we all have.
Author Marianne Williamson says, “Forgiveness is the choice to see people as they are now. When we are angry at people, we are angry because of something they said or did before this moment. But what people said or did is not who they are. Relationships are reborn as we let go perceptions of our brother’s past. ‘By bringing the past into the present, we create a future just like the past.’ By letting the past go, we make room for miracles.”
The Bee in Thee
Let’s work together with those on our teams (at home, at work, in school) to set the intentions, activate our right brains to ask the questions and create and stay accountable to the pathways that will lead us in the direction of our most positive futures.
Together, we must be intentional about positive change—to move and grow in upward spirals to ever-evolved states. While Darwin had a good theory, Hamilton made it even better: We have evolved socially. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt says we are like bees, “ultrasocial hive creatures.” Simply put, we need each other.
Yes, positive change starts with us. And in this relational space, positive change starts with love.
So, as we start a new month on Positive Psychology News Daily talking about love, I ask you to consider the paradox which surrounds it: to be loved, we must give love. Sometimes, this requires we forgive, move on, and intentionally create better for the circumstances surrounding our relationships. This is our responsibility.
Changes from the Oregon Government site.