|The Personality Disordered Co-Parent and "The System" Part 3
||How the "system" can help those who must co-parent with a personalty disordered person.
|Your Friendly Funny Neighborhood Narcissist
||He’s the neighbor you secretly call “The A**hole.” He’s always shoveling your snow or mowing your grass because you simply don’t do it right! He’s your friendly Neighborhood Narcissist or “NN” … ...
|How to Quit Smoking — Forever?
|| Are you one of the 75 percent of smokers who want to quit? If so, then you know that stopping the habit is not easy. Often it takes several … ...
|Today I Love This Stormy Day
||Today I love this stormy day and the way it throws the trees about and splashes water everywhere. Spring, not quite in her second week, seems to already be going … ...
|The Pursuit of Happiness Never Ends Well
||Happiness is a state of being, not a pile of stuff.
|The Economy and Mental Health
|| Fascism is capitalism in decay. ~ Vladimir Lenin American democracy has become an oligarchy. A 2014 study conducted by Northwestern and Princeton researchers concluded that the powerful wealthy elite substantially determine government policies while ordinary citizens have little impact. By lobbying on Capital Hill for … ...
|8 Ways to Lean into Negative Thoughts for Kids
||“Don’t worry, be happy.” “Big kids don’t cry.” “Fake it until you make it.” From a young age, we are taught to deal with our negative thoughts and emotions by quashing them or … ...
|The Personality Disordered Co-Parent & "The System" Part 2
||Trying to coparent with a personality disordered person is a challenge and the system needs to help, not hurt.
|When Narcissists Claim They’ve Changed
||If you’ve read my blog, you know that I never count anyone out. I don’t think that just because someone has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (or not officially … ...
|Our Egg Hunt with ADHD Kids
|| My children and two of their friends searched the forest near our home in rural Maine for colorful plastic eggs. Eggs … ...
|Bipolar Gives You Smooth Pick-up Lines
||In the above Family Stew cartoon, I’m drawing me at 19 using my smooth Pick-up lines on Joan (my future wife). Yes, Bipolar gives you smooth pick-up lines, don’t you … ...
|Foods To Beat Depression
||Introduction Are you currently suffering from depression? Have you tried everything? Are you looking for something new? Have you tried altering your diet? According to Bass (2016), “A number of … ...
|The Importance Of Breakfast For Children With ADHD
||Introduction Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is the most important meal of the day for anyone. However, for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder breakfast … ...
|Could Childhood Emotional Abuse Lead to Migraines Later in...
||Say what?! It isn’t an exaggeration to say that people who get migraines suffer. Migraines are more intense than regular headaches and can last for hours or days. Any movement, bright lights or noises can make the pain worse. When you’re having a migraine you … ...
|We Are Good People, With ADHD
||I know, we aren’t all good. Some of us are jerks. I might be one of those, how does one tell? Anyway, the thing is that we are no worse … ...
|The Case of Boredom: Enduring Empty Time
||Are you often bored? Make use of those situations in order to intimately experience yourself and to eventually adjust yourself.
|Four Reasons to Cultivate Zest in Life
||For 10 years, video game designer Matt Harding has been traveling the world and dancing in front of a camera. From South Africa to North Korea, he finds strangers to teach him new routines, then records himself while he busts a move.
Harding clearly has what positive psychology researchers call “zest,” which means approaching life enthusiastically, as an adventure. If dancing in 71 countries isn’t an adventure, I don’t know what is.
Zest is among the 24 character strengths that positive psychologists have defined and studied as keys to living a happy and fulfilling life. Although the science of zest is still young, researchers are beginning to uncover evidence of how beneficial this intangible trait is. Below are four of those benefits, followed by some suggestions for how to increase your own zest.
1. Zest and happiness go together
Zest is practically a happy trait by definition. “We describe people with this strength as vigorous and energetic, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, bouncy and perky, peppy and high on life,” write Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman in the book Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification.
Unsurprisingly, then, people high in zest tend to be more satisfied with their lives. In a 2004 study of over 5,000 adults, mainly women from the United States, people who had more zest were more satisfied with life—particularly when zest was one of their top character strengths. Meanwhile, those low in zest had remarkably low life satisfaction.
Zest isn’t just linked to an excessively joyful, Tigger-type of happiness; it’s associated with several different forms. A 2007 study of nearly 13,000 American and Swiss adults looked at three different ways to be happy: a life of pleasure, a life of engagement, and a life of meaning. Zest was linked to all three routes to happiness—particularly the life of engagement, which involves being fully absorbed in life’s activities (in “flow”) on a regular basis.
2. Zestful people are happier at work
On the job, zestful people turn their enthusiasm and energy to the work itself. They are the committed, engaged workers for whom employers search high and low.
In a 2009 study of nearly 10,000 adults, people with more zest were more likely to be satisfied with work and see their work as a “calling”—meaning that instead of striving for money or promotions, they are motivated by the enjoyment and meaning they get out of work. Seeing work as a calling, in turn, has its own benefits, such as taking fewer sick days and experiencing less stress.
The study looked at employees in professional, managerial, administrative, and blue-collar roles, as well as stay-at-home parents, and zest wasn’t equal among all of them: Professionals tended to be the most zestful, while clerical workers were the least. Jobs that drain energy may sap our zest, too.
3. Kids with zest are less neurotic
You might think that kids—with their exuberance and energy—are naturally zestful, and you would be right.
A 2006 study of middle schoolers found that zest is more common among youth than adults. In turn, more zestful kids had fewer “internalizing” problems such as anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, and feelings of inferiority. Zestful students also tended to be less neurotic, a personality trait characterized by negative emotions and sensitivity to stress.
Younger kids reap benefits from zest, too. In another 2006 study, parents wrote roughly 200 words describing their three- to nine-year-old children. Researchers then rated the kids’ levels of zest based on these descriptions, looking for phrases like “full of life,” “energetic,” and “enthusiastic,” as well as their levels of happiness. They found that children who were more zestful also tended to be happier.
4. Zestful teachers are better at their jobs
My favorite teacher in high school was Mr. Van Genderen, who taught freshman biology. He started every class by reading from a tabloid, picking biology-related stories about aliens and mutant creatures. He’s smiling in every memory I have of him, and his enthusiasm was infectious. I didn’t even like biology, but he inspired me to volunteer for hours of extra studying and test-taking on the biology team.
Mr. Van Genderen had a lot of zest, and it turns out zest might be key to a successful teacher. In one study mentioned in this 2009 review, researchers looked for similarities among teachers whose students were performing the best, measured by improvements in their standardized test scores. The most effective teachers tended to exhibit a combination of social intelligence, humor, and zest.
How to cultivate zest
Could you use some extra zest in life? If you want to feel more alive, try these science-backed suggestions for increasing zest.
Take care of your body: Eat well, get enough sleep, and don’t smoke. Exercise can make us especially more zestful if it’s fun—so think about skipping the treadmill and joining a softball league or finding a running buddy.
Practice savoring: Zest involves feeling fully engaged in the world around us, with all our senses alive. You can build that feeling by truly savoring positive events and sensory experiences—don’t just let them breeze past you. One way to practice is through the Raisin Meditation.
Cultivate optimism: Feeling hopeful can boost our excitement and joie de vivre. To work on optimism, try the Best Possible Self exercise, where you journal about an ideal future in which everything is going as well as possible, from family and personal life to career and health.
Get social: The social connections that helped our ancestors survive tens of thousands of years ago bring us more vitality today. Try spending time with dear friends, cultivating your relationships at work, or participating in group activities to boost zest. One way to strengthen social bonds is to practice Capitalizing on Positive Events, where you invite a friend or family member to tell you about something positive that happened to them and respond with enthusiasm and interest.
Experience nature: Being around vibrant greenery can make us feel more zestful, too. In a 2010 study, participants who took a 15-minute walk outdoors reported an increase in their sense of vitality and energy, while those who walked indoors did not. According to subsequent studies by the same researchers, simply being in nature—with or without physical exercise—makes us feel more energetic.
It might not be your goal to travel the world and dance with strangers; maybe your enthusiasm runs more toward teaching, acting, or parenting. But whatever it is you want to do, cultivating zest can be an effective way to help you get there (and enjoy the journey, too).
|The Immune Mind
||Why do we cling to a belief even after some objective facts show it to be inaccurate?
|Getting to the Roots of OCD
||For a while, psychiatrists have suspected that OCD is a nasty side effect of evolution — a sort of prehistoric tendency toward situational awareness and hygiene gone out of control in some … ...
|Mt. Monadnock Story: Emotional Mountain
||Mt. Monadnock Story: by now you may have seen the past 3 posts about my short ordeal of an overnight stay on the artic region of the mountain. What am I … ...