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Live Well: How to be the HERO in your own life

"Optimism shifts our focus toward accepting the past, appreciating the present and seeing the future full of opportunity." ~ Paul McIsaac

I first studied psychology at the University of Toronto in 1966. My next contact with the subject was in 2003 in Powell River, when I started my online Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology program.

More than 80 per cent of the material I eventually studied was developed during the 36 years between my first course and my masters. The field of psychology, especially counselling, is changing all the time.

One of the more recent concepts my clients find very helpful is Psychological Capital or PsyCap for short. It is based on the four human traits of hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism, or HERO.

PsyCap uses these to influence life satisfaction and features appreciative and positive emotions. Each individual HERO component is unique and beneficial, but they are most effective when used together.

We may be happy when we are successful, but we are more successful when we are happy. If we are more hopeful, efficacious, resilient and optimistic, we are more likely to grow from life’s challenges.

Hope encourages us to combine our willpower, the decision to accomplish our goals, with a plan to achieve them. We then look forward to achieving our goals, which triggers positive emotions.

Help your hope grow by setting goals and using your unique abilities to achieve them. Then, create your own motivation by using self-direction and exploring purpose and meaning in your life.

For the individual, efficacy is the ability to achieve intended goals. It helps to increase our confidence to accept and work on challenges. It influences how people think, feel and self-motivate.

Believing in our ability to achieve a goal encourages us to work on it. Higher efficacy leads to working harder and increases goal achievement and success.

Focus on past successes that show your abilities. As well, study others as they overcome obstacles in situations like yours. It increases the belief that you can do it, too.

Take control of your challenges so they lead to positive outcomes. Transform your emotions, such as anxiety, into positive energy, like anticipation, that fuels you to excel.

Resilience is the ability to overcome reversals and grow stronger from them. As Confucius said: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Improve your resilience by facing and accepting the reality of difficult situations. Look for the deeper meaning in adversities by exploring them to find out why they occur. Finding and creating meaning in your life strengthens your resilience.

Improvise resources and brainstorm various solutions to problems. Resilience shows and increases your ability to recover from setbacks.

Practice optimism by believing in your present and future success. It helps you control situations positively and appreciate your role in achieving expected results. Our perception of the past predicts our future. Optimism shifts our focus toward accepting the past, appreciating the present and seeing the future full of opportunity.

Using and improving your Psychological Capital helps to increase your well-being and life satisfaction. Work on hope, efficacy, resilience or optimism improves the other components as well, and your entire PsyCap system. But it only works if you do it!

Paul McIsaac is a registered clinical counsellor practicing in the qathet region, and via telephone and internet across Canada.


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