Transcript | PPP106: Optimism and Creating Jolts of Joy 



[00:00:00] Intro: Today on the Potential Psychology Podcast.

[00:00:03] Marie: Our moods are contagious to other people and so when we talk about sort of being optimistic or being in a, a lighter mood and being open and being able to kind of bounce through things that has effect whether, so you think about families or you think about workplaces and we all have a responsibility to hold ourselves accountable, as much as we can for doing the things that we know will lift us and paying attention to those things. So I do like the idea that we spend some time noticing the things that give us those subtle lifts. The ones that are happening for our day, that we actually take time to notice, to savor, to stretch. So, to savor them means to go, oh, that was lovely. Taking a moment to notice that it was enjoyable and then also stretching it out by sharing it with other people.

[00:00:56] Ellen: Welcome to the Potential Psychology Podcast. I'm your host psychologist, Ellen Jackson and this is the show in which we explore what it is to be human and how we as humans can fulfill our potential.

Hello, and welcome back to the Potential Psychology Podcast. It's Ellen Jackson here, your host and with me is Marie McLeod. My co-host for this season of How to Thrive. Hi Marie.

[00:01:21] Marie: Hey Ellen

[00:01:22] Ellen: How are things with you?

[00:01:23] Marie: Oh, good. Good. Yeah, I have to say it is a whole lot busier now that we're out of lockdown and I, you know, it's like careful what you wish for, right? Because when you're in lockdown, you're wishing for all those things to be back. And now that they're back to like, oh, thank God, that whole concept. I think someone mentioned of social fitness.

[00:01:45] Ellen: Yeah, we're all out of practice.

[00:01:47] Marie: We're out of practice and out of practice with all of the scheduling of the kids' activities and here and there and fitting it in. I've just found that incredibly challenging in this past week.

[00:01:59] Ellen: And it's [00:02:00] coinciding with a busy time of year, as well, isn't it?

[00:02:02] Marie: It is.

[00:02:02] Ellen: It's coinciding with a whole lot of end of year type sutff you know, exams, end of year functions, Christmas parties is starting up things that either winding down, but there's is sort of a celebration attached to that. Or kicking off and I don't think we're alone perhaps in looking forward to maybe a Christmas holiday break.

[00:02:23] Marie: Yes, I know. I think that's right. And so just very briefly, if you are just joining us for the first time we are doing the How to Thrive series of eight covering BEACON, a framework for thriving and BEACON stands for belonging, engagement, accountability, compassion, optimism, which we're doing today and nurture. And so each week we'll give you a little bit of the science around that topic. We'll talk a little bit how we apply those in our own lives, and we will set a quest for you to go away and do in the week that we will do with you and  debrief the next week. So that brings us to Ellen checking in on how we went with self-compassion with both you and I admitted was a bit of a work in progress for us still, despite the fact that we have both known about this professionally for some time.

So. I was very glad we had the conversation because there were a number of moments this week where I needed to call upon self-compassion. This is like coming, coming to confessionals aren't they?

[00:03:31] Ellen: That vulnerability.

[00:03:33] Marie: Right. It's the vulnerability. And I do need to practice what I preach around that because I do think it's ever so important that we authentically share the, our lives whats and all.

So, yeah. So this week, For me, there seem to have been a lot of parenting moments. And look, I guess for me, there's been a long time story of being not good enough as a parent. So in full disclosure, you know, I had three kids in two years, I've twins and another one, they've all got ADHD. One's got autism, one's got dyslexia. One's in the process of getting diagnosed with dyspraxia. It's all very sort of full on, but, you know, before I knew that it was just all chaos and I thought it was my fault. And so there's a lot of triggers around it and I seem to have a very fantastic mum and sister that make it look like it's, you know, a walk in the park. And so I feel like, and it's not that they make me feel that way or that anyone else it's just me.

[00:04:28] Ellen: Yeah.

[00:04:28] Marie: But so often I end up feeling like I come up short when it comes to parenting. And I don't think it's necessarily true. My kids are teenagers now and they just, you know, some of them, you know, struggle academically and things like that, but they're beautiful human beings but this week I was cranky pants and I was, you know, the twins of doing exams, and I just felt like I wasn't there for my daughter and getting upset, and then I got distracted and left my son at basketball, and I was late to pick him up and he's standing outside of the cold. I, this they're all going in different directions, Ellen.

And do you know, with my ADHD brain and it's all coming back. The all the scheduling and I just got a bit confused and a bit distracted. And then he's calling me and saying mum, where are you? So yes, lots of triggers for me around juggling my own life and accomplishment with my family and then needing to sort of notice in myself that, that makes me feel really sad and bad and then just going, do you know what? It's something that happens. There are many other good things that I am doing as a parent and trying to do the practice that we spoke about last week by just noticing. Okay, so you're feeling in pain right now, noticing that I feel really, really bad and that my stories are coming in going, oh yeah.

[00:06:00] Great. Doing a good job here, Marie, forgetting them on the side of the road or whatever. And, and then just going, do you know what I've, you know, I've talked with other friends and I know that they stuff up sometimes too, as a parent and so doing that perfectly imperfect pieces stick to, and then just, you know, take me a moment to go, you know what? You're not perfect, but you're doing the best you can with what you got. And just taking a moment to soothe myself and say, you know, year and a half, you'll keep trying, you'll keep showing up. And, and also just being honest with my kids about the mistakes that I make. So that's where I got to with that.

[00:06:40] Ellen: So, interesting records as you were telling me and anybody who's watching the video about be able to see my facial reactions. If you're listening, obviously you can't, but as you were saying that, you know, of course I kept wanting to jump in with, oh, don't be so oh, of course we all do that. Oh, of course we all mess that up. And yes, I've done that before. And I know it, it feels terrible in the moment, but your kids always forgive you if you're honest with them. And, and so for me, it was a sense of having that conversation. We mentioned last time that, you know, idea of one of the elements of self-compassion being learning to speak to yourself as you would a friend. And so whilst you had this inner monologue that was saying, oh my God, you've messed this up. And you know, good at this, you know, as the friend I was on the other side going, oh my goodness, we've all been there. We've all done that. I know your kids would understand. It is really hard. I mean, even once you articulated that whole combination of, you know, three kids of a similar age, literally going in different directions, your own tendency to get absorbed in what you're doing. That hyper-focus, which means forgetting, you know, what's going on in the moment. That just sounds impossible to me to manage. I mean, how would anybody not mess that up on ocassion?

[00:07:47] Marie: It's so funny, isn't it? Because you're, you're not judging me, but I'm judging myself so hard and yeah

[00:07:55] Ellen: I feel I have compassion because I feel like I've been that we've all been there. You know, it sounds like an impossible thing to try to juggle and with all the balls in the air, one is going to fall. Eventually, if not regularly.

[00:08:08] Marie: Yeah. I don't know why we do that. We just really think, you know, as you know, I've been filmed in a documentary recently, and the other thing that happened was I got to see the sort of rough cut of the that and oh my God, what a vulnerability hangover after that and looking at it

[00:08:25] Ellen: seeing yourself live in action.

[00:08:27] Marie: made me think oh why did I, wait? Why did I save it? While they filmed that bit? And there's little bits of me with my kids. That is just completely another moment of going to, you know, you just have to have compassion for yourself, fear and hope as you have done so beautifully that other people are going to look at it and go, oh gosh, well, you know, that happens to me or that could happen to me.

And then you feel like it's okay. Why do we need the other person to say, yeah, that's a work in progress, isn't it?

[00:08:59] Ellen: We do judge ourselves harshly. Absolutely.

[00:09:02] Marie: So how did you go? What went on in your week that might require self-compassion?

[00:09:06] Ellen: Oh look mine feels like nothing in comparison to that, but I think I, and again, it's about, you know, moments in vulnerability, opening ourselves up in terms of our own challenges.

One of my challenges for this week has been juggling all the things and the associated guilt that comes when you are prioritizing one thing over another things. So for me, it's work, you know, I have Potential Psychology as my business, but I also work three days a week for Committee for Ballarat under their Leadership Program.

And I have timing and I have the world's most supportive boss. I mean he's fantastic. So again, it's not about any conversation I have with him. It's only about the conversations I'm having with myself, which says, because I've got some time owing in which I really need to put into some work for Potential Psychology this week or I had to this week gone. And then also feeling guilty because I know my little team are working really hard on another project in a committee, and I feel like I ought to be there as well. And I just know that I can't do both and I need to make a decision and prioritize one over the other. And so that has been kind of the, the struggle this week has been the guilt with feeling like,

[00:10:22] Marie: You have to be all things to all people.

[00:10:24] Ellen: And wanna do all of it, and I can't.

[00:10:26] Marie: So what would your best friend say?

[00:10:29] Ellen: Well, look, I think about if I, if I actually have this conversation with my boss, which occasionally I do, and I know he says, don't be silly. We'll all be fine. This will get done. You prioritize what you need to get done in the other space so that it all feels a bit more manageable. So I know it's entirely a conversation I'm having in my own head and then it's having that self compassion around. I cannot be in all places at once. And whilst there's a little part that says, I think maybe you've taken on a bit too much, which again is an ongoing conversation. It's very much, I think it's the mindfulness of how do I feel in this moment?

Am I feeling completely overwhelmed? Am I feeling guilt? If I'm feeling guilt, what can I do about that? And that is just exercise that self-compassion and say to myself, you know what, this is just what it is in this moment and you'll work your way through it because you always do and try to put myself in those other people.

You know, if I went to any of my colleagues, they'd say, don't be ridiculous. We're fine. We're managing. It's all good. So having a whole lot of those conversations with yourself to try and find a little bit of ease and peace with that. So that's, that's been my ongoing challenge.

[00:11:41] Marie: Sounds good. Cause we can only do what we can do, you know, that's the thing we can only do and whatever is left undone, we'll be able to pick up again.

But you know, we do seem to think that we are super human sometimes, and we just not, you know.

[00:11:56] Ellen: And I think too, there's that element of feeling like you're failing. If you're not managing to stay on top of it all at the same time and living up to your own expectations in each of these different spaces that somehow you're you're failing.

So again, having that conversation, that common humanity of saying my God, nobody else, I don't think would be able to do this any better than I'm trying to do it.

[00:12:15] Marie: That's right.

[00:12:16] Ellen: And that's okay. So, wow. What a week?

[00:12:19] Marie: What a week? Indeed. What a week and so it might be good that this week we are talking about optimism.

[00:12:27] Ellen: I think that's a lovely thing to talk about. I have lots of questions about optimism.

[00:12:30] Marie: Ooh, exciting thing. This is where we get to fly off the seat of our pants because Ellen was using her strength and curiosity.

[00:12:38] Ellen: I am absolutely, I am so well, tell us, Marie, from your perspective, from the BEACON framework, what, what are we talking about when we're talking about optimism and, and how it plays into thriving?

[00:12:49] Marie: So, um, optimism has quite a lot of things underneath it. One of them that we're going to look at today is particularly around the way that emotions impact our brains and therefore our mood, our energy and our motivation. And so we know that positive emotions have a particular effect on our brains as do the sort of more heart straining, negative, or challenging emotions.

And so within optimism, we might also think about hope and hope theory. Uh, we're not going to go there today. That's more of a sort of theme that runs all the way through through BEACON is that we know how important it is to kind of be pulled forward by hope. But in this instance, we're looking at the, the emotional experiences that we have and how we can learn to better navigate negativity more resiliently. Particularly today, looking at the, sort of the power of positive emotions and Dr. Barbara Fredrickson's work or professor Barbara Fredrickson's work in this space. So I'm really sort of interested to unpack that this has been one of those, another one of those areas for me, that was quite mind-blowing and sort of game changing.

When I discovered positive psychology in the sense that it gives us more control than we thought we had over our mood, and I liked that.

[00:14:14] Ellen: And that's what I was going to ask you about, because I think for many of us, when we say optimism, we think about this dichotomy of optimism and pessimism. We have an assumption and to some extent it's a valid assumption.

So me putting my kind of personality, psychologist, hat on of my individual difference interests, some of us are more wired for optimism than others. There is a degree of trait in here that is not entirely fixed, but it's certainly, there's a wiring that leads us to the, glass half full person.

[00:14:49] Marie: Yes.

[00:14:50] Ellen: Or the glass half empty person. And I think in our everyday language, in our everyday conversation, that's how we think of optimism. It is something that, you know, you're either an optimistic person or you're a pessimistic person, and that is your lot in life. But of course, that's not what we're talking about here is it ?That there's a degree of training and opportunity for development and change that can take place that is beneficial to us.

[00:15:14] Marie: Yes, I mean in a, and it is absolutely related that people who are more optimistic and pessimistic. And in fact, professor Martin Seligman who founded positive psychology is a self professed, pessimist and positive psychology came about because his little daughter calls him out on the fact that he was a grump and, you know, told him that he could kind of, you know, change around the way he thought about things.

And so I think it is important to point out that we can learn to become more optimistic. And that, that is very much worthwhile given that optimists live longer than pessimists and had better health. And so I guess, you know, that notion, is it trait or is it state, you know, where it is a trait? We know now that through neuroplasticity, we can change our genetic predisposition to be a certain way. So even if you are born a pessimistic parents or have that piece of a stick tendencies, you can still kind of change that and rewired. A little bit, like we spoke about in our very first episode around, we talked about the negativity bias that we have and how, you know, we might have a bias towards sort of focusing on issues, risks, and problems.

And we can, we can rewire our brain to focus on what's working well more of the time. So today we're going to look at a particular strategy from professor Barbara Fredrickson, which is really understanding that our brains are hardwired to perform better when they feel positive. So not even neutral and not negative but positive.

So that means that, sometimes I like to think about this. I'm a little bit like thinking about a flower. I like metaphors. And so if we think about a flower that closes up overnight, and then as the sun shines on it, the next day it opens out and it broadens and it becomes this beautiful flower until the sun goes down and then it closed up again.

So our brain responds similarly to the experience of positive emotions. When we feel our moments of, awe, hope ,pride, love, serenity, gratitude, inspiration. Those are positive emotions. When we feel those things, we actually open up and quite literally Ellen. So our peripheral vision when we are in a positive state like that expands from seeing 15% in a neutral state to 75%, when we're in that open state.

Now that is quite a big difference. So we know that the neurological impact of experiencing enough heartfelt way, a positive emotion. So if you give me a compliment, that makes me feel proud then the opening up happens. So she calls this, Barbara Fredrickson calls this, the broaden and build. In the moment we broadened our peripheral vision expands our brain then there are more neural pathways that are happening and we are more able to problem solve and more able to kind of think clearly we're more able to kind of see past differences that we might have with other people. And we're more able to rebound and bounce through adversity and difficulty. So you can imagine that if we are in the state more often, And we had going around through our days and work and home and, and the lives that we never gained.

If we doing that in a more open state where we can problem solve and we've got perspective and we can see more and we looking past difficulties and bouncing through difficult, we are actually building our resources, our resilience and our relationships. And that is the build part of this that happens over time.

So this was very profound for me to discover that positive emotions have such a enormously far reaching impact on us neurologically. And the next step for me then was being able to understand that we could be more intentional about pushing ourselves in situations and saying yes to things that are more likely to lead us to a heartfelt positive promotion.

That's pretty cool I think.

[00:19:40] Ellen: Look, it's absolutely amazing, really. And I think it's just because I want the funny thing as you're explaining that Marie, I was thinking was that because of this natural negativity bias that we have, we don't pay good attention to the positive emotions. Even that we experienced over the course of every day.

It's almost like we just gloss over those and they're fleeting and we might enjoy them in the moment, but we don't really think about it. We're not mindful about it. We don't savor it. And we certainly don't appreciate what it's doing for us. Instead, we get drawn into those negative moments, those moments of conflict, those moments of disappointment, those moments of frustration, and then we seethe and we ruminate, you know, it's like, we kind of, you know, we glory and all of that at this kind of perverse way. And yet all it does is, is really the opposite isn't it? It sinks us further into that. It closes off our cognitive opportunities. It limits us, it just reinforces all of those unpleasant feelings.

And we do that so naturally. And yet we've got the opportunity to do this in a positive way. If we start to rebel and glory in the positive moments, you know, all of those things that you're talking about, all of the ways in which that helps us behaviorally and cognitively and emotionally, and in terms of our connection with others, we just cast that to, so we don't even notice it.

We just walk on by.

[00:21:02] Marie: That's right.

[00:21:03] Ellen: So what you're saying is, is we've got a real opportunity and amazing opportunity. To just flip this around a little bit and pay more attention to these positive things and put ourselves in those circumstances where we might get more opportunity to do that. And then so many good things can come from that.

[00:21:20] Marie: Yes. So you're absolutely right. These are little fleeting micro moments, and sometimes they're so fast that we don't even slow down enough to notice them. And when we do that, we are actually. Walking past an opportunity to lift our mood. And so I think that we, there's just, for me, it's been very useful to know and understand that.

So, we tend to in this day and age, just being moving so fast to become very transactional. And what you're talking about is kind of noticing, we talked about noticing with compassion, but we need to notice these little things as well, that someone expressed gratitude or that there was a little moment of laughter or pride, and there's a beautiful sunset or trees outside my window or the sun on my face.

These don't have to be super amazing, profound things. They are just these little lifts that have that effect on us. And so again, fridges and talks about these as the tiny engines that drive our wellbeing. And so they're there for the taking right in terms of noticing ones that happen throughout our day.

And then there is the opportunity to add more. And so one of the things that is also interesting here is that now there is some sort of dispute about this, but there, there was at one point an idea that we needed a ratio of three positive emotions to one negative emotion to be thriving. Now, whilst they might not be an exact number because we're all different, right.

But we know that to feel good and function well. We want our ratio of positive emotions to be higher than negative emotions. And you'll notice this yourself Ellen that, you know, there are those days that just more shitty stuff happens than another days. And those are the days that you just, you leak in energy, you can't problem solve, you can't see past stuff, you just feel in a bit of a funk. And so the power of knowing that if you could pull on and lean into some positive emotions and turn that around because that's the other thing, right? As we spoke about the fact that you, this broadening in the moment and this building over time, but Fredrickson's research also sees that we can reverse.

You know, stress by a positive emotion and we can reverse that kind of funk that we can get into. So that means that if we can begin to notice the things that give us a lift, give us a jolt of joy as I call it, then we can be intentional about actually inserting those in our day and really taking control over our moods.

[00:24:04] Ellen: And that remind, it's just, as you're saying that it sort of links back to our conversation last week about self-compassion that sometimes when we are in those, having those days, that it's just gloomy and it's hard and it's annoying and it's frustrating. And we can know perhaps that we should inactivate self care.

We should do something nice for ourselves to make ourselves feel better. But unless we have that self compassion to allow ourselves to do that. So this is possibly building a bit of the argument for self compassion here to say, you've actually got the opportunity and if it's not for you, then for the people around you, you know, I know that if I'm having one of those days and the kids come home from school, I don't want to be the grouchy mom.

I don't want to be the, you know, so can I do something that gives me a jolt of joy, you know, and you'll find your own language about that. So for me, it's about, I call it decompressing. And so, you know, often I use my respect a lot about my walking I'm in the midst of all this work at the moment but it is very much one of my self-care habits because if I really feel like I need it on those sorts of days, I take the dog and we're very fortunate to have bushland around us because I know the bush, even I went for a walk yesterday, and as soon as I step beyond the suburban street into this bush land, the smell of the gum trees is one of those sort of awe moments, you know, looking up and seeing the light through the trees, through that exposure to nature, which you know, is beneficial to us anyway, from a mental health point of view.

But for me personally, that moment of awe that comes from that is a positive emotion. So we often you met, you listed off all those wonderful positive emotions before, but I think often we get stuck in happiness, love, you know, we have a very small subset, but positive emotions, like, or like gratitude, like pride, serenity, satisfaction, all of these are positive emotions as well.

And to be able to frame it up in your mind to say, right, I'm having one of these days. I need to do something, not just for me, but probably for the benefit of everyone around me, but also to help me to, if I've still got to get stuff done and I know that I'm really starting to drag my heels because of the mood

I'm in, you know, this can be the little thing that I do for half an hour that gets me back on track or at least, you know, some attempts to do that. So whether that's having the cup of coffee in the sunshine or going for the walk or watching. I prescribe Netflix comedy quite often to coach in class. I think humor is a wonderful reframe when we're in those sorts of moods.

So, you know want something funny? Jimmy Reese video on meanwhile in Australia, have you seen those? Oh, you haven't. Goodness. I'll have to send them to you. I know a lot of our listeners will have, so, you know, just the comedy and perspective over what's been happening during the pandemic and the states  fighting each other.

And they are hysterical. I find them hysterical anyway, you know, a two minute video on YouTube like that, which can just

[00:27:07] Marie: shift your move. So it doesn't have to be a long thing. That's the important thing is, and we're all different. Cause you know, I don't know, to be honest, I'm not sure the humor always works as well for me.

And so it is figuring out what is it that works for us. And so for you watching funny videos and being in nature, and maybe some of those quiet are positive emotions, you know. See how I see jolt of joy because of all my zestiness and you said, actually, you know, I pull it to decompressing and calm, yeah. And so what is kind of pop zesty kind of way of getting it in yours as a more serene, I need to kind of slow down and unplug kind of thing. And so I think that's a really beautiful way of noticing that what will create and elicit a positive emotion for me might be very different for you, but it seems really important that we find what it is and that we begin to have a toolkit of those things at the ready, because what we know is that when we need it, when we've gotten into that funk, we're in a closed state.

And we can't think of one of those things will be.

[00:28:16] Ellen: So it has to be something that comes quickly and easily and almost automatically without having to kind of think too hard about it.

And that will take time. And I think this is a point that I really, I do want to labor a little bit for the benefit of our listeners.

And that is that so much of this stuff is very individual. We talked about in coaching in particular working from first principles, because I think a lot of the messaging we get, whether it's from the media, social media, those around us is that there are prescriptions for these sorts of things that you follow this prescription, you know, that if you get up and the one that drives me bonkers, because I'm not a morning person, is that, you know, to have a great day, you need to get up and do all the important things first thing in the morning, get to get up at five o'clock and I'm just like, oh, I try it. And I'm tired and I'm grumpy and just not the person to be around. It doesn't match my chronobiology, but I think that that's, it is that this is about a toolkit and it's about really understanding yourself and what works for you.

So down to those things like language, there's no one size fits all prescription for thriving. What we're trying to give you is a great big toolkit and all the ideas and to understand the principles so that then you can build up your own toolkit and have those things at the ready when you need them as a unique individual, because what works for me, isn't what what works for you Marie and it's not going to be what works for our listeners either necessarily.

[00:29:41] Marie: And that's very important as well, because if I try what you try and it doesn't work, then I feel like a dud, you know.

[00:29:50] Ellen: Yeah or this stuff's ridiculous. It doesn't work,

[00:29:52] Marie: yes, but it's not about that. It's about that little thing didn't work for me, but what will, so if we understand the end [00:30:00] game, the end game is I want to have a heartfelt experience, a positive emotion.

I want to feel that little lift inside of me. What gives it to me? Doesn't have to be the same, but I just need to find those things. So, you know, for my daughter going to the dog park and being around all the dogs and the dog owners, like she just absolutely is in heaven there, whereas I'm kind of like ughhh, like theyre all slobbery and hairy, I'm getting so much better, but you know, I haven't previously been a dog person.

So that's still

[00:30:33] Ellen: Oh that's funny because I go to the dog park and I didn't grow up a dog person, but I'm probably an animal person, but like your daughter maybe. And I often said to other people at the dog park as we just stand, right. We don't even talk, just standing there watching the dogs play. And I like, God, it's the best therapy, isn't it, just watching dogs play.

[00:30:50] Marie: Oh gosh. So, and then she took the lamb the other day to the dog park and that was a bit of a hilarity.

[00:30:55] Ellen: Oh that would be Interesting.

[00:30:56] Marie: So they have a little dog birthday cake is a whole little community happening down there. So that's, you know, that's her, her happy place. And so it is about sort of understanding we're the all wired differently, and we have to kind of find the best fit.

And I, you know, I think as well, your comment before about if you won't do it for yourself, then do it for others because we are contagious. Our moods are contagious to other people. And so when we talk about sort of being optimistic or being in a, a lighter mood and being open and being able to kind of bounce through things that has effect others.

So you think about families or you think about workplaces and we all have a responsibility to hold ourselves accountable, as much as we can for doing the things that we know will lift us and paying attention to those things. So I do like the idea that we spend some time noticing the things that give us those subtle lift the ones that are happening for our day, that we actually take time to notice to savor it to stretch, so to savor to them means to go, oh, that was lovely. That was lovely that you gave me that compliment, or that was lovely that my husband bought me that cup of coffee, or that was lovely taking that walk into the bush land or taking a moment just to pause and having a cup of tea and looking at the latest magazine or whatever it might be, or having a call with my mom in New Zealand and catching up.

So taking a moment to notice that it was enjoyable and then also stretching it out by sharing it with other people. So being able to, you know, share with your family or your colleagues or whatever is the little thing that happens. So they get a benefit and you get to relive it and kind of stretch it out. So there's that the sort of the noticing, the savoring, the stretching, but there's also the NSP said before the aiding them in so that we can monitor our ratios.

Because if we know that we're going to have a day, when there are a lot of, kind of heart strain and difficult things, we're going to feel overwhelmed. We're going to feel stress. We're going to feel maybe angry or frustrated or sad. Then how can we add some of these things in to even it out. And so what I like to recommend is that people develop a bit of a toolkit.

So in families, sometimes we say create a joy jar. So, you know, we've got a jar here and it's got little notes in it, little notes that you put in there, and that each member of the family writes down things that bring them joy. So kids have great ideas. They'll say, oh, I want to have macaroni cheese in the bath, or I want to blow bubbles out in the, you know, things or I want to, um, have a teddy bear's picnic with pink cupcakes or do you know what I mean?

They just think of it, you know, let's play twister or let's dance around in our pajamas or whatever it might be. They have the coolest kind of vibe.

[00:33:46] Ellen: Joy comes easily.

[00:33:47] Marie: So much less than it committed than us as adults. And so we all add things into the jar. And then when we feel that kind of funk coming out, down, or at certain times in the day when we know it's the witching hour, we take one out and we do it.

[00:34:00] And if we don't do a joy jar, then we just write them down. And a little kind of positivity toolkit lists that you stick on the fringe and that you're just mindful of injecting these dots of joy or these decompression moments into our day. And so that is what I'm going to sit as the quest for this week, in case you weren't catching my vibe there.

[00:34:22] Ellen: The way you were going with that.

[00:34:23] Marie: Just to, I'm starting to introduce it in because you know, I, and I do this with coaching clients oftentimes as well, that what we pay attention to matters. And it, all of these things really do affect our whole experience of life. That might sound a bit sort of grandiose. But they do and if we are navigating difficult times, rather than focused on how are we going to fix that or move around it or whatever, we can actually do better by pulling back and adding in more of the good stuff. So that, that thing loses its power and fades away. Does that make sense?

[00:35:04] Ellen: Yeah, it does. And I was just reflecting on that notion of that consciousness around it, you know, finding that balance and being proactive.

[00:35:15] Marie: Yes.

[00:35:15] Ellen: That's the first step in this, isn't it? The mindfulness and the, and the proactivity, but also the self compassion. So if you say that you going to do three things every day and you only do one that's okay. But

[00:35:26] Marie: absolutely

[00:35:28] Ellen: balancing all of those things, but it's the paying attention to noticing how it feels. I know for me, that's probably the, the biggest thing, the thing that makes the biggest difference is actually just absorbing it in the moment.

[00:35:38] Marie: Yes.

[00:35:39] Ellen: And then feeling how that feels.

[00:35:41] Marie: Yeah.

[00:35:42] Ellen: Maybe that takes time to get used to that noticing and feeling thing, which is something that I've worked on for a long time, particularly through yoga but again, it's finding what works for you. So whether it is actually easier to just say, right, I'm going to do three things and have some consciousness around that, you know, that might be a strategy for some people, whether it's something like some of the tools that you've suggested there on the, on the list you'll have. Tip and little activity sheets on the website that people can refer to as the strategy or whether it's just mindfulness in the moment and the savoring of that positive emotion when it comes, it doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter the principle of the thing isn't it started from those first principles of, I understand why this is important and I'm going to do my best to find a way to implement that in my own life.

[00:36:36] Marie: Yes. And I guess it depends what's happening in your life as to, for some people they might be struggling. To find things that feel positive in their days. So it does depend where you're at. Um, and I think that you're absolutely right, Ellen, that these, these are little micro-moments.

We do need to take it, pay attention to them and say, cause this is not a fake it till you make it kind of thing. You know, in order to have the neurological benefits that I described earlier, it needs to be a heartfelt sense of this, you know. This is not the sort of slap a smile on your dial and pretend to be positive.

That kind of toxic. Yeah. You know, when you're trying too hard, this is really knowing ourselves well enough to go. Like for me, if I see in my little nephews or my, my little godsons or whatever, and I, and I say yes to babysitting them while their mom's going out on a date or whatever, or just hanging out with them and just the, the joy that you get in those moments. So whether they're big moments or small moments for taking a moment to, to notice them and, and then reminiscing as well, even over that, like watching the photo, the little videos or photos or things. You know, I guess that's what we're suggesting that our listeners do is to know that this is a tool and a strategy, and that we're either you're at whether it's just noticing them as they come, because you know that in any day, hopefully there are things that you can feel gratitude for.

So oftentimes if we think about the things that usually work for people, they would be, you know, being able to feel or express gratitude. Kindness being out in nature, being mindful, thinking about our future, thinking about lovely plans that we've got or reminiscing about things that we've done before. I think you mentioned nature, doing exercise,

[00:38:25] Ellen: connection with others.

[00:38:26] Marie: thank you.  Yeah. Very important

[00:38:30] Ellen: I was casting through what I do and what helps me. And I think often it is sometimes just having those moments with the kids or with your partner, or even with your pet where you're just connected to another creature.

[00:38:41] Marie: Yes.

Yes, absolutely. Cause we talked about that in belonging, how important it is. So, you know, those little things or your little, you know, listening to music, um, moving it's very good for us. Funny cat videos,

[00:38:53] Ellen: inspiration, I think is an underrated. positive emotion, feeling inspired, watching Ted [00:39:00] talks, if that's your jam

[00:39:01] Marie: or arts or music or math, you know, like what does, what inspired architecture, you know, what inspires you?

What, the question is, what lifts you, you know? What are the things that provide a lift for you for me, or maybe what are the things that, you know, lower your mood for you, not lower your mood, lower your stress levels and the decompression, because that might be a quieter, positive emotion of state of becoming serene.

So that's the quest we're setting is that with your family or your workplace, you could make a combined list or a jar that you put things in by asking people, what is it that lifts you or us 'cause it's great thing to do together. And, you know, we, we just know that mood is affected at times, you know, because we get, you know, bad news about something or it's a dreary day or we've worked really hard.

And so how can we pull out one of those things and let it lift us? Or if you don't want the jar option that you write it down. And this is again about getting intentional on that list. So, you know, you would have spending time with the dog walking in nature. You know, seeing the little kids in my life, spending time with my children, going for a walk on the beach with my husband, I'm enjoying a really nice coffee, um, and really savoring that, you know, although those kinds of things that would go on the list, they don't have to be costly in terms of time or money, but there are things that give us that little felt experience of like, yes, that was really nice, or it was really soothing to my stress. So that is our challenge this week. That is the quest.

[00:40:38] Ellen: We're going to get intentional. We're getting intentional about finding more opportunities to experience and savor positive emotions in their very many forms.

[00:40:47] Marie: We are.

[00:40:48] Ellen: We'll have lots of tips and strategies in the show notes. For this episode that that'll link through to Marie's website which is where she has lots of activities and ideas. Uh, we'll put the other resources that we've mentioned to today's episode in the show notes as well.

And next week, what are we talking about next week Marie?

[00:41:06] Marie: Oh next week we're on to Nurture. And so nurture is where we're looking at the evidence-based ways for eating, moving, sleeping, and mindfulness. So this is our kind of physical health and the way that, that, um, has an interplay with our mental health.

And we are going to choose one of those to focus in on the one that I've chosen is kind of the, um, what I would consider to be maybe the poor relation of the four of those. And I'm going to leave that as a surprise

[00:41:35] Ellen: oh,

[00:41:36] Marie: nice to see

[00:41:36] Ellen: And for me as it turns out

What will it be?

[00:41:41] Marie: What would you choose out of that? Eating, moving, sleeping, and mindfulness.

Which one do you reckon gets the least press?

[00:41:47] Ellen: Oh, they're also important. Um, I don't know if it's the least, but the one that I find. You know, sleep is the one for me sleep is

[00:41:57] Marie: Yes thank you

[00:41:59] Ellen: I got it right, so it's not a surprise anymore. So sleep. Yes, it has always been underrated. I don't think we speak nearly enough about it given the impact that it can have. So I'm looking forward to that conversation, Marie, and in the meantime, you and I will work on our positive emotions. All our listeners will also work on their finding opportunity and some intention around creating positive emotion in their day.

And we will look forward to a wonderful conversation about sleep next week.

[00:42:23] Marie: We will. And so, yes, so jolts of joy or moments of decompression. I'm looking forward to hearing how you get on with that. And yes, next week we will look at the perhaps underrated power and prioritization of sleep for our wellbeing. So have a great week out and I'm looking forward to seeing you back again next week.

[00:42:43] Ellen: We'll see you soon.

So what do you think? Do you have some ideas for ways to lift your mood? What do you do already to decompress or to feel good or to remind yourself of what is good? Let us know. We'd love tonight. You can make contact by our [email protected] or connect to this via social media, either through Potential Psychology or Marie's social accounts at needtoseesomeone or indeed her website As always, we have Marie's tips on optimism and positive mood available via the show notes. For this episode, along with the other resources that we've mentioned in today's conversation, you can find them all at podcast and you'll also find at the details of my new online masterclass, Creating Hard Stops on Meeting Creep and Zoom Gloom. It is the first of my series of little lessons for leaders that we will be unveiling over the coming months. And in this first class, I'll cover six strategies for best practice at work from home or hybrid work and reclaiming post COVID workdays from those endless back-to-back zoom meetings and supporting your team to thrive by creating work life balance and work from home practices. There is a lot we can do to be a lot more intentional about hybrid team based work. And it's all about creating a healthier and happier and more balanced way of working that gives us flexibility, which we're loving, but also contributes to productivity and positive mental health.

That's all at I hope to see you in the program in the online masterclass and that's it for episode six of How to Thrive a special edition series of the Potential Psychology Podcast, co-hosted with Marie McLeod. Next week, as Marie said, we will be talking about the N in the BEACON model and N stands for nurture.

How do we nurture ourselves to keep thriving? It's so important as we come to the end of another very busy rather topsy turvy year. We're both really looking forward to being back with you to talk about that next week. In the meantime, as always go forth on your quest to thrive and take small or big steps to fulfill your potential.