Day 2 – Baselines – Get on your computer and go to your gym!

Martin Seligman once said “To summarize the message of the positive psychology movement is to remind our field that he has been deformed. Psychology is not just the study of disease, weakness and damage, it also is the study of strength and virtues. Treatment is not just fixing what is wrong it is also building what is right. Psychology is not just about illness or ill health, it is about work, education, insight, love, growth and play. In this quest for what is best, positive psychology does not rely on wishful thinking, self-deception or hand-waiving, instead it tries to adapt what’s best in the scientific method to the unique problems that human behavior presents in all its complexity.”

Today is about finding your strengths so we can utilize them in what we do in the future. Because psychology isn’t exclusive to improving weakness, it’s about employing your strengths daily. For the purposes of the 99 day self improvement guide, we’re going to test your mental and physical baselines.

For the mental aspect, we’re going to go with the reliable surveys used in Positive Psychology. The Positive Psychology U Penn website has the brief strengths test here -( http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx  ).  I’m also going to take the Authentic Happiness Inventory Questionnaire. We take the happiness inventory to get a baseline of where we are, so that at the end of the 99 days, we can take it again and see improvement.

My signature strengths are: Love of Learning, Perspective [wisdom], Citizenship [social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork], Fairness, Appreciation of beauty and excellence [awe, wonder, elevation], Gratitude, Humor [playfulness] 

The key is to utilize these strengths today!- at least two – daily. For example: Love of Learning – learn something completely new today. Citizenship – volunteer my time this week. Fairness – in talking with others about their problems, never see just one side of the story. Appreciation of beauty and excellence – i’ll post an Instagram photo showing something awesome. Gratitude – show it to your friends, buy them some drinks, thank them for being in your life. Humor –  I’ll look up a couple of jokes and tell them to my friends today. 

Next, we’ll do a baseline of the F part of PERMAF – Fitness. The science behind it is very simple: physical activity has been proven to: increase endorphins, energy levels, mood, and decrease stress. “In a way, exercise can be thought of as psychiatrist’s dream treatment. It works on anxiety, on panic disorder, and on stress in general, and it generates neurotransmitters, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine that are very similar to our most important psychiatric medicines. Having exercise is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin, right where it’s supposed to go – the exact right dosage in the exact location and zero side effects.” – John Rately, Harvard Psychologist

Our physical baseline is in two parts endurance and strength. The endurance test is simple – How fast can you run a mile? The strengths test is not as simple: In one minute each, how many sit-ups, pushups (or bench-press at 135 lbs) and pull-ups and squats (say at 135 lbs, depends on your fitness level already) can you do?

Now list your goals – at the end of 33, 66, 99 days, how many do you wish to be able to do? Now ask yourself how you can get there. If you are just now starting to get in shape, (IT’S NEVER TOO LATE!) and need a workout routine, you can find one here – http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/workoutdatabase.htm

Now this is the key: Print out your strengths test, and keep this fitness goal sheet. If you want to, take a picture of it, put it as your phone background (that’s what I’ve done) – The goal is to do two strengths a day, and work out three times  a week!

“First we build our habits, and then our habits become us” – Tal Ben-Shahar, Harvard Positive Psychology Professor

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