Positive approach a wise choice

FROM ROOSEVELT by Linda Schuster

   So how are ya feelin’? Did you survive the holiday blast? Some people prefer to expunge every clue of December from their residence before the stroke of midnight on the first of the year.
   I’m still cleaning up, myself. The tree’s de-trimmed but still in the house. There area few decorating items adorning the place here and there.
   I thought I would take a relaxed approach to January. I deserve it. I’m still doing all the regular work, you know. That goes without saying. But the extra holiday residue can wait. I’ll get to it later. Not July, just later.
   Look at it this way. It’s a lifestyle choice. Do what works for you and be happy about it. Happy is good.
   Naive, you say? Not so.
   Suzanne Segerstrom, Ph.D., who is an assistant psychology professor at the University of Kentucky says, "My evidence suggests that optimists are not naive. They are, however, wiser in expending their energies and better at directing their attention to and elaborating on positive information."
   In fact, psychologists and other social science professionals are focusing on finding ways to keep people happy. The Positive Psychology Summit held its second annual conference last October. They convened for the purpose of discussing the qualities that enhance the quality of life, qualities like how to build self-confidence, strengthen character and develop interpersonal skills.
   Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., former American Psychological Association President, is founder of the group. He aims at enhancing the good in one’s life through the development of positive psychology techniques.
   "I like the idea of behavior leading toward a goal," said Dr. Seligman. "Maybe there are a set of experiences people can be led to have by doing spontaneous philanthropic activities in which they have the insight that there is a better way of being happy. That power, drugs or shopping are not the only possibilities._
   They types of experiences that make people feel good are being studied by researchers in the field. They are looking at 20 personality traits that may be considered to build happiness. These personal characteristics, referred to as "roots of a positive life," include the capacity to love and be loved, altruism, spirituality, creativity, courage and wisdom.
   Alice Isen, Ph.D., a professor in the psychology department of Cornell’s Art College, has conducted a recent study of what makes people happy. She found that to be the simple rewards of the everyday. People like to receive an unexpected gift, such as a free sample in the mail, for instance. An experience as small as this can produce emotion that makes them feel more generous, friendlier and healthier. Dr. Isen also found them to be more flexible, creative and better problem-solvers.
   I guess don’t mind so much being considered among the simple-minded, after all. What is that old song that goes, "accentuate the positive, de-emphasize the negative"?
Linda Schuster is a freelance writer living in Roosevelt, who is vacuuming pine needles off her floor today.