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3 ways to develop accomplishment (DW#998)

Like many other concepts in positive psychology, we can learn to develop a sense of achievement and accomplishment.

Here are three simple ways:

  1. Set yourself sub goals. Remember that larger goals can take longer to achieve and it is easy to lose motivation along the way. To sustain motivation, we need to set a series of smaller goals as markers and stepping stones towards our big goal. 
  2. Include values. When we hit roadblocks towards achievement there is one thing that keeps us going: reminding ourselves of why this matters. What is it in service of? So goals are more likely to be accomplished if they are linked to our values.
    When you savour your accomplishments, which ones really stand out as powerful motivators? This can be an indication of strong values which can be harnessed in future to set meaningful goals, achieving which will greatly add to our wellbeing.
  3. Adopt a growth mindset approach. It helps to remember that all mistakes are mis-takes – helping us learn what...
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Intrinsic versus extrinsic goals (DW#997)

While setting targets and achieving goals is an important part of the PERMA model of wellbeing, it is important to remember that achievement of some goals will add to wellbeing while others not so much.

Seligman’s research has confirmed that achieving intrinsic goals (such as personal growth and connection with others) leads to larger gains in wellbeing than external goals such as having more money or achieving fame.

Accomplishment also leads to an increased sense of wellbeing when it includes self-discipline, working and setting goals, striving and challenging yourself to persevere in the face of challenges.

In other words, even small victories that are hard won lead to a greater sense of accomplishment and wellbeing than easy successes.

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Learning to enjoy achievement (DW#996)

Last week, we started discussing how achievement and accomplishment fits within the definitions of the PERMA model and said that Accomplishment/Achievement is described as a way of reflecting on the attempts of doing something, and the degree in which it provides a positive sense of accomplishment or achievement.
 
Like meaning and purpose, experiencing a sense of accomplishment or achievement is very subjective and can mean different things to different people.
 
The good news is that with awareness and intention, we can learn to foster and savour a sense of accomplishment and add to our own wellbeing.
 
How?
 
Firstly by learning to acknowledge our goals and our sense of accomplishment, not to compare to others’ goals and accomplishments. This may be challenging for some of us who have the belief that we must always be hard on ourselves and that it is somehow arrogant to acknowledge that we have achieved something.
 
Here’s the thing: this is...
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A is for achievement (DW#995)

Now let us discuss the last element in the PERMA model, which is A for Accomplishment or Achievement. 
 
Within the definitions of the PERMA model, Accomplishment/Achievement is described as a way of reflecting on the attempts of doing something, and the degree in which it provides a positive sense of accomplishment or achievement.
 
Human beings, it turns out, are teleological creatures.

The philosopher Aristotle was perhaps the first to link wellbeing with having goals, projects and targets. He explained that human beings are teleological (from Greek telos, "end," and logos, "reason")

And that we need to have goals and targets to achieve.

Modern scientists agree that happy and successful people have projects and are engaged in meaningful, specific, challenging yet doable goals.
 
What are your goals and projects at the moment? What are you working towards?
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Making meaning from adversity (DW#994)

The way we derive meaning from life through story telling is really important when we are going through challenging times.
 
We may have heard the term "PTSD" or post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that develops in some people who have experienced or witnessed a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.
 
Of course, it is natural to feel afraid and overwhelmed during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This "fight-or-flight" response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.
 
It is important to remember that not...
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Reinterpreting your narrative (DW#993)

We said that human beings are natural storytellers and that we make meaning of our life events by constructing a narrative of our life experiences.
 
Creating a narrative from the events of our lives brings clarity and helps us understand how we became ourselves.
 
However, we may not realize that the process of storytelling involves interpreting facts and events and that we have the possibility of constructing empowering narratives in which we are the heroes that overcame challenges as opposed to disempowering narrative where we are the victims of circumstances.

In other words, we can edit, interpret, and retell our story, even though constrained by the facts, in a way that will help us rather than harm us. In a way that will empower us rather than disempower us.


To generate meaning through storytelling, reflect on an important and perhaps challenging event that has shaped who you are and the course of your life. How has this adversity helped you to come out the other...
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The pillar of storytelling (DW#992)

The fourth pillar of meaning according to Emily Esfahani Smith is that of storytelling – it is about the story you tell yourself about yourself and your life experiences.
 
Human beings are natural storytellers. We create stories from our own different life experiences. This is how we make sense of our experiences and the world itself. "Stories help us make sense of the world and our place in it", explains Smith, "and understand why things happen the way they do". And how we came to be who we are today.
 
Psychologist Dan McAdam has been studying the concept of life stories and meaning for over 30 years. He explains that a person’s "narrative identity", or the story that they create about themselves, is constructed by focusing on the most significant events that have taken place in their life and then interpreting them in numerous ways.
 
From his research, McAdam found that those who tell redemptive stories about their lives, that is...
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The pillar of transcendence (DW#991)

The third pillar of meaning is also about stepping beyond yourself, but in a somewhat different way.

The third pillar is the pillar of transcendence.

Transcendence is right at the top of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for the human being but it is a quality that is not often discussed.
 
According to Abraham Maslow, "Transcendence in the sense of loss of self-consciousness, of self-awareness, and of self-observing. It is the same kind of self-forgetfulness which comes from getting absorbed, fascinated by concentrating on something outside one’s own psyche which can produce self-forgetfulness and therefore loss of self-consciousness".
 
Although hard to put into words, transcendence is not that rare an experience.
 
In fact, if you have you ever looked up at the stars at night and realized that you are just a tiny part of a large whole, and that somehow you are connected to the greater whole, then you have experienced transcendence....
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The Future Project (DW#990)

While the world is experiencing a crisis of disengagement, meaninglessness and lack of purpose, there are small pockets of hope and action emerging.
 
Political scientists and economists are noticing an emerging trend where some youth are increasingly interested in "spiritual" rather than "material" concerns, and are prioritizing purpose, knowledge and community over money and consumer goods. It appears that while their parent’s generation may have spent much time accumulating material resources, pockets of this generation are not that motivated to add to their material resources.
 
Some not for profit institutions are working to encourage building connections, celebrating purpose and providing spaces for storytelling.

One such example is the Future Project, an organization with a mission supported by the pillar of purpose. The project aims to help students pursue their purpose by placing guidance counselors, called Dream Directors, [great name, right?] at...

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Finding purpose in nonpaid work (DW#989)

It is no newsflash that our society values paid labour over the millions of hours spent by people all over the world doing work at home and raising families. Work such as this often goes unnoticed and unappreciated.
 
That’s the bad news.
 
The good news is that you can find meaning, purpose and joy at the tasks of housekeeping, caregiving and parenting regardless of how others view your contribution.
 
Once again, the secret to finding meaning and purpose in all our daily activities is to connect how what we are doing is contributing to the lives of others.
 
Spending time raising your families? The contribution to them is of course obvious. And we (sometimes) get to see it in their success and happiness.
 
However, it goes far far beyond them.
 
Raising good humans is a contribution that we make to their spouses, to their bosses, the community they will live in and to the world at large.
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