I think I can...

Hi!!! And Welcome Back to Motivated Mondays! 

We’re talking about well-being. 

A quick recap of last week before we continue.

Last week, we continued to cultivate a feeling of purpose, coherence and worth by exploring the remaining two pillars of Meaning: Storytelling and Transcendence (1). 

Human beings have a primal desire to understand the world around them and make sense of the of things we experience (1). Storytelling is a key method of creating coherence in our worlds and integrating suffering. It also helps to form our sense of identity. In large and small ways, our words create worlds.* If we listen closely to the stories we tell ourselves and those around us, they reveal how we understand ourselves and the world.

If storytelling is your pathway to meaning, I invited you to take a few minutes to write about a transition in your life and consider what would be different if you had not gone through this transition? If you accepted my invitation, what did you discover? How has storytelling helped you become the person you are today? Remember, you are writing your own story and creating meaning in your life by bringing awareness to things that are meaningful to you. So, be open to new experience and change your narrative as you grow.

Transcendence helps us rise above the typical concerns of our daily lives and connect to something vast and meaningful (1). It is often accompanied with a feeling of insignificance as our sense of self disappears and a deep sense of connection leaves behind peace and well-being (1). This feeling of awe challenges our mental models of the world and forces us to update our thinking to create coherence and explain our experience (1).

If transcendence is your pathway to meaning, I invited you to consider what quiets your mind and provides a sense of connection to something greater. Then, to engage in that experience, look up and open yourself to the larger truth in your life, so the ego can disappear, if only for a moment.

I hope you enjoyed exploring Storytelling and Transcendence last week and that these pillars of meaning helped illustrate just how accessible meaning is to everyone! Meaning can happen in moments from sources that are all around us in daily life. The key is drawing our attention to moments we find meaningful, so that our awareness of meaning can build over time. In fact, knowing yourself is actually an important predictor of meaning in life (1), because the creation of meaning is deeply personal. I hope that exploring the four pillars of meaning: Belonging, Purpose, Storytelling and Transcendence (1) has helped make meaning approachable and given you a language to begin cultivating meaning in your own life. 

This week, I want to dive into our final element of PERMA - Accomplishment (2).

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Accomplishment is a controversial element of well-being in the field of positive psychology as not all accomplishments fuel well-being. I believe the same can be argued of any element of PERMA we have discussed. There are exceptions, limits, and caveats as we journey to well-being. Our attentional focus impacts our well-being in a number of ways and how we direct it in can impact well-being. There are also moral considerations, how we go about accomplishing tasks may impact not only our personal well-being, but the well-being of those around us. All that said, feeling capable and accomplished can certainly increase our personal well-being. 

How do we accomplish tasks and rise to challenges?

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People choose to engage in specific behavior and persist in the face of challenges when they believe that their actions will produce desired results. Self-efficacy or the belief that personal skill will result in desired outcomes within a certain situation provides a sense of control over our environment and is essential for well-being (3). Self-efficacy beliefs are developed when we understand causal relationships and practice self-observation or awareness. 

Think about it. If you don’t believe that you are capable of accomplishing the task at hand, you will likely not attempt to accomplish tasks that stretch you, promote growth, or push you outside of your current comfort zone. Self- efficacy beliefs also provide the groundwork for self-regulation. They create a ‘can do’ attitude and are vital to changing behavior or emotions that can increase well-being. The invitations I have offered you to explore and discover your personal drivers of well-being over the last year have also been a series of small tasks designed to cultivate awareness and build self-efficacy. I aim to help you understand ways in which you can positively impact your well-being and offer pathways to reach desired outcomes. As desired outcomes become reality through intentional action, self-efficacy is strengthened (3). 

Congratulations!

If you accepted even one invitation I have offered in the last year, you have new evidence of accomplishment that can build your self-efficacy! Your interest, presence, commitment, and exploration of personal well-being is deeply appreciated and will serve you and those around you well moving forward. I hope these small actions towards well-being have helped you increase your awareness of and commitment to personal well-being. Over time, I hope accepting these small invitations to action have helped you feel accomplished and cultivated feelings of capability. 

This was my hope and intention, as research supports the idea that the belief that we can change and reach desired outcomes is primed by awareness, which opens the door for successful positive interventions. Further, self-efficacy beliefs increases effort, persistence and performance of tasks that can create well-being (3). So, self-efficacy also opens the door to accomplishment! 

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This week, I want to invite you to take a moment to reflect and celebrate some things you have already accomplished! There are many ways we can do this, and I will offer two today.

Option 1: Think back over the last year and write down three examples of a time when you were successful in the face of a challenge. They can be from any domain in your life, large or small. Once you have done this, take it a step further and list out a minimum of three skills and strengths that supported this success. In other words, why were you successful? What within you enabled you too accomplish what you set out to do?

Option 2: We often spend our lives hooked to a a “To Do” list. They can be every growing and sometimes make us feel like we aren’t accomplishing the things we set out to do. After all, there are only so many hours in the day! We are often forced to prioritize things that come up, adjust our plans, and improvise in the moment. This is great! Not to mention a reality for most of our busy modern-day lives, but it can also mean that what we accomplish gets lost in the shuffle. What we haven’t completed weighs on us, and we have a list of what we have not accomplished right in front of us enforcing this feeling. So this week, I invite you to keep an “I did it!” list. Simply write down what you accomplish as you do. As things are moved off your “to-do” list, put them on an “I did it!” list and track them. Be sure to add anything that pops up which you accomplish along the way. Not only is this a great way to bring awareness to where you time is really going, it will help you build feelings of capability as you see your accomplishments large and small stack up in this list.

I hope you enjoy exploring accomplishment and developing self-efficacy this week! I look forward to seeing you next week we dive further into accomplishment!

As always, gratitude for the expertise of the following resources.

References

1. Smith E. The power of meaning. Random House; 2017.

2. Seligman M. Authentic happiness. New York: Free Press; 2002.

3. Maddux, J. Self-efficacy: The power of believing you can. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd ed. (pp. 335-343). New York: Oxford University Press; 2009.