Welcome back to part 2 of the active learning studies done by my students this fall. These studies are based on the following two premises of our course, Positive Psychology: The Science of Optimal Human Functioning.
“One basic premise of positive psychology is that human flourishing – a life rich in purpose, positive relationships, and enjoyment – will not result simply by curing pathology and eliminating behavioral and emotional problems. Rather, flourishing requires us to build and capitalize on human strengths and capacities. Another basic premise is that human flourishing involves unlocking or building potential resources, capabilities and capacities at multiple levels – in people, and also within teams, groups, communities, and institutions.” ~ Course syllabus, Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson
SAVOR, DON’T STRESS
By Meghan Reid, Caroline Sargent, Peter Compton & Julia Dudick
Stress riddles our modern American culture. We feel this stress especially as competitive college students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to take Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s Positive Psychology class this semester. As we students progressed through the course, we examined different psychological studies that lead to a better understanding of human functioning.
We also designed our own research study to test whether savoring would benefit mental and physical health. Savoring means fully engaging in one’s surroundings, and cultivating a deeper appreciation for everyday objects and actions, such as the cool breeze on your walk to work.For our study, we observed the effects of savoring on physical health by tracking the degree to which people felt vigor, energy, and perceived physical health on a day-to-day basis. Our results supported our prediction that savoring activities improve that day’s overall energy and perceived physical health, in comparison to days without savoring.
In the Positive Psychology field, savoring is widely known to improve mental health. In addition, this research study suggests that mental health could impact physical health in forms of energy and vigor. Positive psychology is catching fire because of its potential to improve mental stability in a time of tension and because it is so applicable to everyday life.
Seeing savoring as a means to achieve positive mental and physical health could revolutionize the way we view our health. Who knows, it may even change our approach to healthcare.
THE EFFECT OF POSITIVE INTERVENTIONS ON GRATITUDE AND WELL-BEING
By Caroline Le, Alijah Walker, Yates Kline & Jonathan Woody
Positive emotions are known to decrease stress. People who experience more positive emotions seem to live longer too. Wouldn’t you like to lower your stress and extend your life?
Our main focus this semester was conducting a research study analyzing the effects of positive interventions on participants’ well-being.This specific study investigated whether counting blessings or savoring could increase peoples’ gratitude by having participants enact savoring and gratitude interventions twice a week for three consecutive weeks. Participants using gratitude journals were asked to think back over each day and write down five things in their lives that they felt thankful for. Those assigned to savor took the time to focus on an activity one would typically rush through and savor the positive emotions felt during that activity. We found that levels of gratitude were indeed significantly higher on days when people enacted their positive interventions compared to days when they did not. Savoring and gratitude interventions both seem work to increase gratefulness.
So, when you thank a loved one this holiday season, remember that you aren’t only spreading positivity, but you’re also becoming more grateful as a person and improving your overall quality of life!
Bryant, F. & Veroff, J. (2007) Savoring: A new model of positive experience.. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Books from the Class Syllabus
Fredrickson, B. L. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. New York: Crown.
Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become. Hudson Street Press.
Worline, M. & Dutton, J. (2017). Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People and Organizations. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.