Outlook of Young Kids’ Parents
One cohort of the population that can easily be identified as a success-driven division is that of parents of young children. When children are young, parents are expected to constantly keep their child aligned with the learning and physical standards of medical advisors. In Suzan Ahmed’s article, “An attitude of gratitude: A randomized controlled pilot study of gratitude journaling among parents of young children” (Ahmed, 2017). Ahmed recounted her experiment on parents of young children and the effect that gratitude-centered journal had on the parent’s identification with negative emotions and the amount of stress brought on by parenting. This experiment was prompted by the curiosity of the effects of short term gratitude on the parents of young children’s life and happiness levels.
Ahmed hypothesizes that the parents involved in the daily gratitude journaling would have reduced negative effects and the groups of parents that only participated in weekly gratitude journaling and the control group who did not perform gratitude journaling would have constant negative effects. The experiment was focused on parents from San Diego, California with kids between 2 and 5 years old. The parents were instructed to participate in a self-monitoring report to measure and examine the changes in, “parenting stress, wellbeing (i.e., life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect), depressed mood, and self-compassion.” (Ahmed, 2017). She used a mixed-design analysis and produced data that contributed to the past research about the positive effects that gratitude journaling has on parents based on the frequency they journal. The daily groups showed higher levels of life satisfaction and a drop-in stress levels, the weekly groups data stayed close to those of the control group, their attitudes were not affected by the sparse to no journaling.
Goal-Oriented Athletes and Happiness
Another sub-category of the population that is trained to be goal-oriented is athletes. The life of an athlete never ceases to be demanding, you are constantly being pushed towards a goal, whether that includes, speed, technique, or sportsmanship and once you reach that goal you move onto the next one. In Achor’s speech, “The happy secret to better work,” he specified that living goal oriented like this can’t produce long-term happiness, because once you reach the goal, you lose the challenge and satisfaction of the first goal and now want to press on to something harder. In the journal article, “Gratitude and athletes’ life satisfaction: The moderating role of mindfulness,” researchers questioned the factors that affect life satisfaction in a sports environment through “gratitude orientation, which is a ‘‘general tendency to recognize and respond with grateful emotion to the roles of other people’s benevolence in the positive experiences and outcomes that one obtains” (Chen & Chang 2017).
Chen and Chang’s experiment consisted of 190 collegiate athletes from Taiwan that participated in a vast amount of sports. These athletes trained five times per week and competed on different levels: international, national, and regional. The data was collected through surveys that the athletes took in a quiet, monitored classroom. The questionnaires contained three sections of tests, the Gratitude Questionnaire (McCullough et.al, 2002), the Mindfulness Awareness Attention Scale (Brown and Ryan, 2003), and The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS; Diener et al. 1985). These measurements provided a range of data from the athletes on level of gratitude, their everyday experiences and participation in the moment, and their perception of global life satisfaction, respectively. Chen and Chang found that gratitude was correlated positively with life satisfaction (Chen & Chang 2017), but mindfulness was not significantly correlated with gratitude. Their study mirrors that of past studies, reinforcing the evidence that gratitude is critical for the life satisfaction of athletes. Gratitude has the ability to broaden the attention of athletes, initiate positive social behavior leading to cognitive and interpersonal resources.
Effect of Acts of Kindness
An equally significant aspect of Achor’s argument is the effect of random acts of kindness. In an article written by Jonathan Passmore and Lindsay G. Oades named, “Positive psychology techniques – Random Acts of Kindness and Consistent Acts of Kindness and Empathy,” Passmore and Oades claim that by performing random acts of kindness and translating it into your daily life has positive effects on physical and mental health. Random acts of kindness are defined in this article as a “selfless act to either help or positively affect the emotional state (mood) of another person.” (Passmore & Oades, 2015). Passmore and Oades’s beliefs coincide with Achor’s assumption that working in a goal-oriented fashion is depleting and that it creates a culture of focus on the self (Passmore & Oades, 2015).
The two researcher’s experiment is a one week self-monitored and self-motivated event. Each day the participants are given a single random act of kindness to perform in their daily lives, the tasks are centered on displaying gratitude to the people or serving those they interact with including bosses, co-workers, parents or friends, employees, and strangers. Passmore and Oade encourage the participants to take on a mindset they call CAKE, “a consistent approach to displaying acts of kindness to others through holding an empathetic stance towards all we meet,” (Passmore & Oade, 2015). They hypothesize that this method and experiment will build empathy within the participants to alter future socialization and interaction with the world. They believe if a participant is keener to hold onto a positive stance, that when they encounter future scenarios that call for empathy and understanding they will be prepared. Passmore and Oade believe this method will not only improve the lives of the participants but also society.
Positive Psychology Experiment
This last article is an investigative look into an experiment by Seligman that used positive interventions in participants’ lives that resulted in changes in mood for long periods of time. The article, “Do Positive Psychology Exercises Work? A Replication of Seligman et al. (2005),” was written by Mongrain and Anselmo-Matthews, both from York University. Seligman believes that positive psychology is in place to teach people how to find the most effective approach to improve overall well-being (Seligman, 2011).
His study compiled 1,447 participants primarily white and female, with a mean age of 33 years old. He measured his experiments with the Steen Happiness Index (Seligman et al. 2005) to serve as a measurement of happiness that is sensitive to positive change in happiness and the CES-D (Radloff, 1997) which is sensitive to measure depressive symptoms. The experiment required the participants to complete a collection of tests including the Steen Happiness Index and CES-D as the base-line measures (Mongrain & Anselmo-Matthews, 2012) and then were randomly split into four groups: expectancy control, positive placebo, three good things, and using strengths in a new way (Seligman et al., 2005). The two control groups were expectancy control and positive placebo.
Mongrain and Anselmo-Matthews’s experiment outcome mirrored Seligman that positive psychology exercises persuade the participants to change their perspective on change when focused on happiness levels. As Tallman and Bohart state in their 1999 academic journal, “Perhaps thinking positively about your past, your day, or your strengths activate the natural growth potential in individuals and may well mobilize hope by providing tools that bolster optimism.”
In the class experiment, we are giving a survey based on the happiness exercises purposed by Shawn Achor: three daily gratitude’s, journaling, exercise, meditation, and random acts of kindness (Achor, 2011). The questions assess the amount the participants focus on these self-maintenance examples and how much their participation in them affects their perception. I hypothesize that participants who engage in the happiness exercises regularly have a higher positive outlook than those who participate in happiness exercises less frequently.