Israel Peace Week and Positive Psychology

Image

By: Miranda Lapides

Another group at George Mason University, the Israel Student Association, is doing some good on campus this week! We all combat stress and conflict in our lives on a daily basis, and hearing about conflict going on in the rest of the world is the last thing we want to hear. Obviously it is important to educate yourself on the harsh realities and negative impacts of conflict, but it is just as equally important and beneficial to look on the “bright side” of things. This is where positive psychology comes in to play with conflict.

The Israel Student Association’s message for their Israel Peace Week project is that no matter your views on the Arab-Israeli conflict, you cannot deny that Israel wants peace and has tried numerous times for peace. This week they represent that message through tabling in the Johnson Center with posters, flyers, and prizes. Most importantly, Israel Peace Week involves its grand social media campaign, bringing messages of peace to the Mason community. The Israel Student Association invites students and faculty to take a picture with a whiteboard stating what peace means to them and have it be uploaded to ISA’s Facebook page. ISA’s kiosk also includes a giant poster where students can simply write what peace means to them on a piece of paper and tape it to the board. So far the project has raised some awareness on campus, with students defining peace as “understanding,” “being sensitive to the suffering of others,” and “free to travel without fear,” and it is just the beginning of the project!

The Israel Student Association’s latest project is directly related to positive psychology. Positive psychology is the study of what contributes to human happiness and emotional health, though no one defines it better than Christopher Peterson, a former professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and current author, when he says, “Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living.” He goes on to say that this particular type of psychology focuses on strengths as well as weaknesses, how to build up the good things in life as well as fixing the bad, and fulfilling mentally healthy peoples’ lives as well as healing those with mental illnesses.

This is exactly what Israel Peace Week is all about: taking an area of the world with a conflict and shedding some light on it by giving it a positive spin. It is so easy to count the number of missiles being fired from both sides and the number of lives each side has lost. With anything in life, it is easier to focus on the negative than the positive, but this project puts the negative on hold and gives students and faculty a chance to put their most important values on display, the values that make life most worth living.

What does peace mean to you? Join the campaign by messaging ISA on Facebook.

View other photos here!

Image
Christina DiCicco, junior

Image
Francesco Yepez-Coello, junior, a fellow writer

 

Source

Peterson, Christopher. “The Good Life.” What Is Positive Psychology, and What Is It Not? Psychology Today, 16 May 2008. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-good-life/200805/what-is-positive-psychology-and-what-is-it-not&gt;.

Advertisements

The Positive Effects of Humor in the Workplace

 The Quest for Success: The Hidden Gem of Business

By: Denisa Holeckova, Lauren Bernard, Thompson Imasogie, Tim LaPlante, Katie O’Brien

What’s the secret behind running a successful and profitable business? Much like Indiana Jones and his quest for the Golden Mayan Statue, we too have struck gold. The secret of business success has finally been uncovered, and we’re here to tell you firsthand what’s in this clandescent treasure chest. There are many components that make up a functioning and lucrative business. These components act much like jewels on a ring, surrounding the center stone, and enhancing the remarkability of the piece. Without the center stone, the piece is not complete. The jewels of business management, human resources, and even psychology garnish the exceptional stone and together they make up an unprecedented success story. Before discovering the treasure chest, the whereabouts of the center stone were unknown, but as we had hoped, the stone was indeed a part of our treasure. The center stone is the gem of Humor. The Humor gem unites all the jewels together, forming a successful and lasting masterpiece. Continue on and experience the many ways the Humor gem can be a business saving grace, as we go on to explain its benefits that business owners and managers often forget about.MIchael-Office-NBC-1.JPG

The renowned treasure cove containing all operations large and small

The hunt begins as we venture into the tall grass of the corporate jungle scoping out the treasure. The legendary treasure cove awaits your discovery, containing a plethora of loot ensuring your success. Amidst the plentiful cove, people often wonder what it takes to succeed when in reality, it takes nothing more than a little. Think about any business that you see around you, particular those associated with customer service. You walk into any office and what do you see? People sitting in cubicles avoiding social interaction?  Yes and no. Every business needs a combination of two things: employees that want to work, and a reason. If you give your employees a reason, and encourage social interaction, make them laugh every now and again, it will create a tidal wave of loyalty that will inspire productivity. Think of your office like a family. If your family is unhappy then more than likely you will be unhappy. If they are comfortable and happy, then you will be as well. Your workplace is meant to be somewhere where you can be productive. But how exactly can you reach the maximum productivity? Consider humor for example. A study called the The Wheel Model of Humor indicates that laughter and humor is practically contagious, and that once initiated, virtually everyone gets a dose of laughter somewhere along the line (Robert and Wilbanks, 2012). This occurs even if the joke wasn’t even heard, all it takes is the sound of laughter to get a smile, or a chuckle, or just a good hearty laugh rolling.

The hidden gems of business success present a multitude of reasons as to why they are helpful, but it would probably be better for you to understand how this could become profitable over time. Let’s consider examples set by companies that have been around for decades. Companies such a SouthWest Airlines provide outstanding, if not exemplary customer service to their customers.  SouthWest Airlines not only provides the service of transporting their passengers, but they aim to make their passengers feel comfortable while on the flight. SouthWest has survived for so long by utilizing the simple rule “happy employees equals happy customers.” (CompareBusinessProducts.com, 2013) Some companies aim to provide more of a service and give the customer their product while others aim to connect with the customers themselves. It is fundamental to establish these relationships in order to get to know the customers better.  One of the many benefits of humor comes from the very interaction with the customers. SouthWest airlines greets their customers and entertain them in flight. While waiting at the gate, attendants are given books with games to play with passengers pre-flight if delayed. Onboard, attendants even do impersonations of famous actors or singers such as Mr. Rogers, or Elvis while making announcements (Wiley.com, 2013). Other attendants are more famous for their rapping skills such as David Holmes, a Las Vegas based flight attendant, or the “Rhythmic Ambassador” as introduced at the annual GAAP meeting by Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines (Mccartney, 2013).

This generates profit because of customer word-of-mouth. Review submissions from anywhere to SouthWest Airlines directly, or personal blog postings will allow for customers to go back and fly using that airline. How is this profitable? Talk to the customer, give them their product, and encourage them to return. Given that it is the twenty-first century, you are near guaranteed that somewhere on the internet, somebody is giving a good review. Someone else sees this review and has to try this out for themselves. For small businesses, Angie’s List is probably one of the greatest tools that you can use to your advantage solely due to what customers give you for a review, it would allow for your business to grow.  By providing a good product, more business is generated, and more customers are spreading the news. Continue reading

I’m Not Shy; I Just Don’t Want to Talk to You

By: Miranda Lapides

the-power-of-introverts-L-09nPwa

I am an introvert; there’s no doubt about it. I used to feel bad about it too, like whenever I left a group hangout to go relax in my dorm and be by myself, or when I chose to have dinner with Netflix rather than a friend (how else am I supposed to catch up on Breaking Bad?). I used to associate my introversion with shyness, therefore not accepting it positively until I learned the distinction between the two terms.

The dictionary definition of introversion is “the direction of or tendency to direct one’s thoughts and feelings toward oneself.” This is a part of it, but when comparing the term to its opposite, extroversion, it’s all about “recharging.” Introverts gain energy through solidarity to balance out the energy spent in social situations while extroverts recharge through social situations. Therefore, introversion is said by psychologists to be a motivation because wanting to socialize with others or wanting to be alone depends on the amount of socializing that just took place.

Shyness, on the other hand, is defined as “feeling nervous and uncomfortable about meeting and talking to people; tending to avoid something because of nervousness, fear, dislike, etc.” Unlike introversion which is more of a motivation, shyness is a behavior in that it is biological. It is a minor form of social anxiety disorder. I could get into more detail but that’s a whole other article.

The main point is that taking a break from socializing is not the same as fearing it. Not every introvert is shy and not every shy person is an introvert. To study introversion and shyness, psychologists Jonathan Cheek and Arnold Buss administered a questionnaire measuring shyness and low sociability to college students and found a low correlation between shyness and low sociability.

The two can definitely overlap, though. According to Carl Jung, introverts “have an inward flowing of personal energy…The introvert is usually happy alone, with a rich imagination, and prefers reflection to activity…the introverted attitude includes a tendency to be shy.”

When the two overlap, it is easier to overcome shyness than change an introverted personality. For example, I used to be a much shyer introvert. Today, I am an introvert who is only slightly shy at first then eases into conversations and gets comfortable with them quickly. After a while though, my introversion kicks in and I need to take a break from people. I just need some time for myself to read or surf the Internet until I have enough energy to socialize again. I used to think this was because I was a shy person until I learned this is not the case. Shyness and introversion can overlap, but at the end of the day, they are two different terms and should not be used interchangeably.

Sources:

Dembing, S. (2009, Oct. 10). Introversion vs. shyness: the discussion continues. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-introverts-corner/200910/introversion-vs-shyness-the-discussion-continues.

Gregoire, C. (2013, Jul. 29). 6 things you thought wrong about introverts. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/introvert-myths_n_3569058.html.

Introversion. The Free Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/introversion.

Markway, B. (2013, Feb. 12). A quiet rant about introversion and shyness. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shyness-is-nice/201302/quiet-rant-about-introversion-and-shyness.

Shy. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shy.

Wardy, A. (2002, Oct. 27). The science of shyness: the biological causes of social anxiety disorder. Serendip. Retrieved from http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f02/web1/awardy.html.

8949931_orig

The Perfect Score

By: Francesco Yepez-Coello

I can’t tell you how many statuses about the never ending struggle of studying for midterms and finals the night before I see on facebook. It is a battle of epic proportions, akin to that of Crime vs. Justice, Odysseus versus the Cyclops, Rava versus Vatu. But it need not be so dramatic, because I’m here to help.

The biggest problem we face is that we study last minute. Marathon studying sessions are unhelpful because we lose sleep over them, and I discussed how bad not sleeping is for our brains in last week’s post. Moreover, these tend to approach learning the wrong way, because our brains just are not built to cement a ton of information all at once forever. The key to doing winning this fight is understanding how we process information.

The brain can process information in different ways, and in varying depths. The way the brain stores short term memory, or information we just recently received, into long term memory, can be by encoding visualy, auditorily, or semantically. Furthermore, when we first store new knowledge, we employ either shallow, deep, or deepest processing. These refer to what aspects of the stimulus we pay attention to, from shallow, or how many letters a word has, to deepest, or what that new word means in the context of a sentence.

So what does this have to do with studying? It means you should spread your studying to different methods, and over time. Studies show that if information is abosrbed with long periods of time in between rehearsal, then retrieval is overall better than if rehearsed once and has to be recalled shortly thereafter. Rehearsal should not be simple repetition either, it should be meaningful: either somehow relate the material to your personal life, or associate it with similar pieces of information.

This is part of the reason why traditional studymethods areso ineffective, because they only employ one type of processing, or only one type of stimulus is absorbed. Take memorizing vocabulary terms from flashcards. This is literally the worse thing you can do: not only are you not learning the material because you only encode auditorily (you saying the words out loud), but they take so much time of meaningless repetition that takes away from other ways you could be using your time productively.

I recommend that you begin studying the very first day your class covers new material, just not in the traditional way that people use the word ‘study.’ Studying is as simple as reading the chapter the professor will cover in class before the class starts. During class, listen closely to what the professor’s lecture, and ask questions for clarification. When you take notes, don’t just copy down what the powerpoint slide says word for word- feel free to draw pictures or graphs that visually represent the information, or something else that makes you think of what was discussed in class.

There, you already thought about the same few concepts, but in many different ways: you wrote them down, you talked about them out loud, and saw visual representations of it. To really hammer the points home, when you go to retrieve the material later, always try to produce it rather than absorb it again. If your professor offers homework assignments, this is a perfect studying tool. If not, most textbooks have review questions at the end of the chapter you can do a few at a time to make sure you’re fresh. Finally, a night or two before, study with a friend by asking each other questions on the material, only referring to the book or notes if you are completely unarmed to answer.

If you do this, essentially you are studying for the test all the time, just not very hard and not for extended periods at a time. This ensures you never have to stay up and cram the night before. But more importantly, you are absorbing the same material in many different ways, which ensures you achieve true understanding. When the test comes, you should know EXACTLY what your professor is looking for in each question, and agonizing over improving your grade should be a bout long past.

Sources

Wood, Justin N. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics 73.2 (Feb 2011): 420-439.

Lewandowski, Stephan. Oberaurer, Klaus. Yang, Lee-Xieng. Ecker, Ullrich K.H. Behavior Research Methods 42.2 (May 2010): 571-85.

Zeithamova, Dagmar; Maddox, W Todd. Memory & Cognition (pre-2011) 35.6 (Sep 2007): 1380-98.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBBjVFzJZZc&hd=1