The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for Doing Positive Things During Our Time On The Planet

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There are many ways to live life. One approach is to focus on doing positive things each day.

This calls for going beyond positive thinking. It calls for doing. People sometimes say, for example:

Actions speak louder than words

By their fruits you shall know them.

Looking back, can you recall some of the positive things that you have done in the past? These may be big or small things. Here are some answers that people have given to this question.

The positive things I have
done in the past have been:

Being a primary school teacher for the past 25 years … Always attending my children’s Christmas Plays … Marrying my partner.

Encouraging people in my daily work … Setting up a website for helping people with a particular illness … Creating a beautiful garden at home.

Helping our children to build on their strengths … Building a team that developed a stimulating culture and delivered success … Becoming happier as I got older.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe some of the positive things that you have done in the past.

Describe the specific benefits of doing some of these things.

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“The longest journey begins with a single step,” we are told. So some people start by getting into the habit of doing positive things each day.

These might be small things, such as giving somebody a cup of coffee or saying an encouraging word. People who give to others often experience positive feelings themselves.

Allan Luks and Peggy Payne described this as the Helper’s High in their book The Healing Power of Doing Good.

Below is an extract from Allan Luks’ website. Whilst it focuses on volunteering, the same principle applies to helping others in our daily lives.

http://allanluks.com/helpers_high

Based on national research that Allan did 20 years ago, he introduced the term ‘Helper’s High’ – the powerful physical feelings people experience when directly helping others – to explain the real benefits to volunteers’ physical and emotional health.

People have known for ages that helping others is good for the soul. But the study that Allan Luks conducted of over 3000 male and female volunteers has proven it is good for the body and mental health too.

His research concluded that regular helpers are 10 times more likely to be in good health than people who don’t volunteer.

And that there’s an actual biochemical explanation: volunteering reduces the body’s stress and also releases endorphins, the brain’s natural painkillers.  

Here is an example that Allan and Peggy give about Mary, a volunteer. They explain that Mary experiences a transcendent calm after giving her best. They write:

On a recent night, driving away from the prison parking lot, she listened to a piece of music by Mozart on the radio and realised that the work she had done with imprisoned people and with others who needed help was her own piece of original music, lifting her own spirits.

“It’s for me a creative work. It’s a concert,” she said.

She could never be a preacher and doesn’t write as well as she’d like. But she knows how much she can help people, and that feels like a good talent to have.

One approach in therapy, for example, is to encourage a person who is depressed to get into the habit of caring for something else – such as taking care of a pet.

They can then develop a responsible role, rather than themselves being at the end of the care chain.

Shari Arison decided to share the idea of helping others and created Good Deeds Day. You can discover more about this approach via the following link and video.

http://gdd.goodnet.org/

If you wish, try tackling the exercise about getting into the habit of doing positive things. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the positive things you want to do in the next day.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things.

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Amanda Mackenzie is somebody I have known for many years. She has planted many positive seeds during her life. She is now contributing to Project Everyone. You can discover more via the following link.

http://www.project-everyone.org/

During the days when I was writing this blog piece, her employers Aviva issued the following press release.

Amanda Mackenzie to lead global education programme
for UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Aviva announces that it will be a founding partner of a new initiative by Richard Curtis, film director and founder of Red Nose Day and Make Poverty History, which will aim to bring the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to every person around the world in 2015.

The UNs Goals will aim to end extreme poverty and arrest the problems caused by climate change. 

To help meet this challenge, Aviva’s Chief Marketing Officer, Amanda Mackenzie, has been invited to work with Richard on this project for the next two years and has been specially seconded for this purpose. 

Amanda will lead a global education programme around the Goals and a legacy programme to see the eventual fulfilment of the goals.

She will join a leadership team which will be responsible for developing a global campaign to galvanise as much public awareness and support as possible for the new goals.

Richard Curtis said:

I am delighted that we have the support of someone as outstanding as Amanda to support this life-changing initiative and I am sure that her energy and experience will make a massive contribution to this project.

Amanda is joining a powerful team of campaigners and partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation who believe that 2015 is a pivotal year to change the future of our people and our planet. I would like to thank Aviva for allowing us to work with Amanda in this partnership.

Different people choose different ways to do positive things during their time on the planet.

Looking to the future, you may want to nurture a happy family, be kind to people, create a website that helps others or pass on some other kind of legacy.

How to make this happen? As mentioned earlier, it often starts with a single step.

As Antoine de St Exupery wrote in Wind, Sand and Stars, it then means taking another step and another step. This is how people continue to do good work.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the positive things you want to do in the future.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things.

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