We are capable of more than what we probably think we are capable of sustaining. Researchers Aknin, Zaki and Dunn conducted a review of close to 1,000 research studies examining hundreds of thousands of people across nearly 100 countries and they came to a conclusion:
We are remarkably adept at finding solutions to what might appear to be insurmountable problems.
THE MENTAL HEALTH CHECK
You’ve probably heard that the coronavirus pandemic triggered a worldwide mental-health crisis. This narrative took hold almost as quickly as the virus itself. In the spring of 2020, article after article—even an op-ed by one of us—warned of a looming psychological epidemic.
As clinical scientists and research psychologists have pointed out, the coronavirus pandemic has created many conditions that might lead to psychological distress: sudden, widespread disruptions to people’s livelihoods and social connections; millions bereaved; and the most vulnerable subjected to long-lasting hardship. A global collapse in well-being has seemed inevitable.
Lara Aknin, Jamil Zaki and Elizabeth Dunn, The Atlantic (July 2021)
I tend to stay relatively calm even when the seas are choppy. I try to look for the learning in a situation rather than creating a complaint when things don’t go well. I look for reasons when I see someone’s behaviour that is rude or negative. I try not to jump to conclusions by assigning intent when I really don’t know.
But, by no means am I perfect. I’m quite imperfect actually.
I have my moments of frustration and if you hang out around me often enough you will see me get a tad ‘grumpy’ every now and then. I get like this when when I’m especially tired or overwhelmed — or when everything around me seems to be an overly dramatic soap-opera.
Being positive is often a choice. So, I work to choose positivity whenever I can. I think better. I respond better. I know I make better decisions.
But, can one’s positive mindset actually make a difference in other areas?
Research seems to think so. We’ve all heard of the placebo effect and how someone with a positive mindset about a drug or therapy can help overcome a physical ailment of some kind. And while it might seem obvious, I went looking for some evidence to see if there is any link between a positive attitude and a better educational experience.
Last year at about this same time, I wrote a blog post about the importance of hope and light in many cultures around the world (‘Tis the Season for Hope). This year, I want to continue along that theme and discuss the importance of traditions or rituals at this time of year. Things like festive music, seasonal food and decorations make this time of year truly sparkle.
In education, we also have traditions at this time — Report cards and Parent-teacher Interviews come to mind.
I know, I know, I know — WOW! We really know how to capture that festive spirit!
Actually, I was in a couple of schools recently and they already have some decorations up for the season. The mood was festive, fun and happy. One little girl was so excited to tell me about the Elf-on-the-Shelf that just showed up in her classroom — “It’s magic. She just appeared out of no where!” Seeing that pure joy reminded me that traditions are so critical to that sense of belonging.