Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The 5-Step Good Life: Make Condolence Notes a Habit


American psychologist, Martin Seligman, coached that there are 5 components of a "good life." 

Using the acronym, PERMA    [Source]  he theorized that we can  control our sense of well being with the following habits:

1. Positive Emotion

Positive emotion — every night before sleep, write down 3 things that went well, and why

2. Engagement
Engagement — rather than taking shortcuts, apply your best skills, ("highest strengths") to any task

3. Relationships
Relationships — connect with people--the levels of intimacy will vary, but avoid isolation

4. Meaning
Meaning — find where you belong, to serve something bigger than your own agenda

5. Achievement
Achievement — determination is the key to any endeavor

The best part of this theory is the discovery about habits. Seligman laughingly gives the example of the pleasure in eating ice cream-- before you know it, it's gone, and another carton soon winds up in your freezer!

Because positive emotions feel so good, their origins can easily become habits. 

The general idea of "habit" can be daunting or delightful.

Your morning coffee enticed you out of a warm bed, but knowing you must "put in your time" on the treadmill elicits a groan.Writing condolence notes will always take some time. They require an investment of heartfelt focus.

These are the sources of positive emotions by regularly writing notes:

  • Perhaps you had a conversation with the bereaved during the illness that resulted in death, or at the funeral service. Listening is an act of kindness, a comforting acknowledgement of your friend and their concerns. This connection adds value to the note you will write.
  • Your note is like a gift that arrives unexpectedly in the mail. Its recipient can sit down for a few minutes to read, and feel bathed in a aura of caring. 
  • More times than I can count, I am eventually told how much my note was appreciated. People use expressions like, "I'll keep it forever," "I've read it so many times," "I showed it to my mother." 

Share these thoughts with a friend, and thanks for caring!

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