Friday, 7 March 2014

Day 57: Positive interventions that people actually want to do

What went well? 
  1. Met the newest person to join our research team. She seems really lovely, genuine, and with unique skills to contribute, and I'm really looking forward to working with her!
  2. After our usual lab meeting, there was another informal lab meeting at the Positive Psychology Center on positive interventions, which we were invited to join, so I did. It was really insightful, and just so good to be in the loop on what top researchers in this field are currently thinking about their field.
  3. Had a long Skype session with mum.
  4. Was late picking up my laundry, but it was still in the dryer (vs. being thrown onto a dirty bench/washing machine). Hey, it's the little things in life!

What did I learn? 
  • In the positive interventions lab meeting, one of the themes that came up was the idea of interventions that people will actually want to do and would actually do in real life. Psychology has the tendency to work in a top-down fashion, so we have theory and research about the foundations of wellbeing, then we want to devise interventions based on these theories, and impose them on people. And sometimes, they do work! e.g. the Three Good Things/What Went Well exercise, and using strengths. But they might not necessarily be "natural" activities that people would necessarily feel motivated to do. So, we were talking about the need to do more research on things people already do to increase their wellbeing, to build interventions from the ground-up, rather than assuming that we, as "the researchers", know better! That's why the intervention we'll be launching in a few weeks (after IRB approval etc.) will be relatively open-ended, but we're hoping to learn lots about the things people choose to do and how often, to gain some insight into feasibility and real-world practicalities. And we also need to learn more about what drives people, what motivates them, so that they will actually feel motivated to improve their wellbeing (assuming that people want to be happy and well). This is particularly important with all the work that's being done with schools right now (which is something I'm passionate bout), where the kids are essentially a captive audience - you have to make it resonate with them somehow.
  • Caffeine may be a little bit alienating. I had coffee today (as well as my regular green tea in the morning) and I was super-focused in the afternoon, but at the same time, didn't feel particularly present/"grounded". Also, I noticed that I was more "edgy" and impatient, perhaps due to the extra stimulation/energy. It's very interesting to notice how much one cup of coffee can affect me physiologically.

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