At the end of an ITM class, it is not unusual for the teacher to ask the class: “What did you like about class today?”
Recently, one of the students on the ITM Teacher Training Course asked our teacher why he does not ask the class about what they did not like.
My teacher pointed out that most of us are world class experts in seeing the negative, but we may need some training in acknowledging the positive.
Why is being able to acknowledging the positive important? Well, according to some theories, being able to see clearly what is working well is absolutely vital for learning and changing. According to Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, even a small shift toward a more positive outlook in life dramatically increases people’s happiness and life satisfaction.
I definitely experience myself in a more positive way and my whole life in a more positive light after my years of ITM study and teaching. It is not that I ignore the invariable pain and difficulties life can bring, but the tools and skills I have acquired have helped me develop a more realistic, balanced outlook.
In class it is not unusual for me to notice some dramatic positive change in a student that they are not aware of. The only reason that I can see the change is because I have years of honing my skills of observation and analysis and I am simply in a better position then the student to be able to see the change. Sharing what I see from that perspective is one of the valuable services I offer my students to support their learning process.
I recently found a wonderful exercise that can help you develop the skill of a more balanced observation of your life.
For three weeks, every night before you go to bed write down three things that went well that day. And then write down WHY they went well. You can click here for the full description of the exercise.
Dr. Seligman’s research shows that this simple exercise can make you less depressed and happier. When I do it, I am always surprised at the reasons I find for why things went well and it helps me notice all sorts of delightful details in my life I could so easily pass over. It gives me valuable information about what works for me and how to do more of it.
If you do choose to take up the challenge, I would love to hear from you in the comments below. I sincerely wish you all the very best for 2014, my it be your happiest year yet!