SOURCE CREDIT: PsychCentral News : Research Finds Proven Strategies to Up Happiness, Life Satisfaction By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor : Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on September 11, 2013
READ THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE HERE FOR MORE DETAIL
Researchers have created four affective profiles that may help individuals improve the quality of their lives.
The profiles came from a research study of the self-reports of 1,400 US residents regarding positive and negative emotions.
Investigators believe the affective profiles can be used to discern differences in happiness, depression, life satisfaction and happiness-increasing strategies.
A central finding is that the promotion of positive emotions can positively influence a depressive-to-happy state — defined as increasing levels of happiness and decreasing levels of depression — as well as increase life satisfaction.
The study, published in the open access peer-reviewed scientific journal PeerJ, targets some of the important aspects of mental health that represent positive measures of well-being.
Brilliant Book! Click Image To Read Reviews and For More Detail
Happiness, for example, can be usefully understood as the opposite of depression, say the authors. Life satisfaction, another positive measure of well-being, refers instead to a comparison process in which individuals assess the quality of their lives on the basis of their own self-imposed standards.
Researchers posit that as people adopt strategies to increase their overall well-being, it is important to know which ones are capable of having a positive influence.
“We examined 8 ‘happiness-increasing’ strategies which were first identified by Tkach & Lyubomirsky in 2006″, said Danilo Garcia from the University of Gothenburg and the researcher leading the investigation.
“These were Social Affiliation (for example, “Support and encourage friends”), Partying and Clubbing (for example, “Drink alcohol”), Mental Control (for example, “Try not to think about being unhappy”), and Instrumental Goal Pursuit (for example, “Study”).
Additional strategies include: Passive Leisure (for example, “Surf the internet”), Active Leisure (for example, “Exercise”), Religion (for example, “Seek support from faith”) and Direct Attempts (for example, “Act happy and smile”).”
The researchers found that individuals with different affective profiles did indeed differ in the positive measures of well-being and all 8 strategies being studied.
For example, individuals classified as self-fulfilling — high positive emotions and low negative emotions — were the ones who showed lower levels of depression, tended to be happier, and were more satisfied with their lives.
Researchers found that specific happiness-increasing strategies were related to self-directed actions aimed at personal development or personally chosen goals. For example, autonomy, responsibility, self-acceptance, intern locus of control, and self-control.
Communal, or social affiliations, and spiritual values were positively related to a ‘self-fulfilling’ profile.
“This was the most surprising finding, because it supports suggestions about how self-awareness based on the self, our relation to others, and our place on earth might lead to greater happiness and mental harmony within the individual” said Garcia.
READ THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE HERE FOR MORE DETAIL
SOURCE CREDIT: Author DONALD LATUMAHINA Lifeoptimizer.org
How to Achieve Goals Through Persistent Starting
Have you ever feel overwhelmed while trying to achieve a goal? I have, and I guess you have too. That’s why it’s important that you have a good strategy. Otherwise you might not achieve your goals, or will only achieve them through unnecessary stress and frustration.
One good strategy I found is persistent starting in The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. Here is what the book says about it:
“…essentially, all large tasks are completed in a series of starts… Keep on starting, and finishing will take care of itself.”
In essence, persistent starting means that you shouldn’t fill your mind with how big a project is. That will only make you feel overwhelmed. Instead, just focus on starting on it every day. By doing that, you will eventually finish the project and achieve your goal.
Click Image To Read Reviews and More
Why Persistent Starting Is Powerful
There are three reasons why persistent starting is powerful:
1. It helps you reduce stress. Instead of filling your mind with how big a project is, you fill it with the simple task that you need to do today. That makes the burden much lighter.
2. It helps you overcome procrastination. One big reason why we procrastinate is that we feel overwhelmed by what we face. As a result, we hesitate to take action. This principle makes the task feel manageable.
3. It allows you to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. By just continually starting, you will eventually achieve a big goal. The whole journey might seem daunting, but by going through it one step at a time, you will eventually reach your destination.
A simple example in my life is when I tried to finish reading the Bible. It seemed like a huge task. If I focused on how hard it would be, it’s unlikely that I would ever finish it. But I focused instead on reading four chapters a day without thinking about how far I still had to go. With this attitude, I eventually finished reading it within a year.
How to Apply Persistent Starting
Here are four steps to apply persistent starting:
Click Image to Read Reviews and More
1. Know your destination.
First of all, you need to know where you are going. If you don’t, you will only wander aimlessly. So set a clear goal. What is it that you are trying to achieve? How will success look?
2. Plan the route.
Now that you know your destination, you need to plan how to get there. A good way to do that is to set some milestones. These milestones serve two purposes:
They help you stay on track. You will know if you deviate from the right path.
They give you small victories along the way. Having a sense of accomplishment is important to stay motivated. By having milestones, you can get it along the way, not just at the end.
3. Keep doing the next simple task.
After planning the route, you should figure out the next simple task to do. What can you do today that will move you toward your destination? After you find it, then allocate time to do it.
4. Adjust your course as necessary.
You need to be careful not to go off course. So regularly check where you are (for example, by comparing your position with your next milestone) and adjust your course as necessary.
Persistent starting is a simple strategy, but it can help you achieve your goals with minimum stress and frustration. It works for me, and I hope it will work for you too.
Once again, in the lead up Fathers Day in Australia this Sunday, here is some information about some of the recent research on the role of fathers in parenting.
Credit: The Fatherhood Institute
Fathers and child development
Before we specifically look at fathers’ involvement in and influence on children’s education and learning, it’s important to understand fathers’ influence on the ‘whole child’, since characteristics such as self-esteem, self-regulation, self-efficacy and locus of control1 are emerging as key predictors of children’s educational and other attainment.
Since 1975, an increasingly sophisticated body of research has been charting the pathways through which fathers2 influence their children’s development.
For example, a systematic review of studies which took account of mothers’ involvement and gathered data from different independent sources3, found ‘positive’ father involvement associated with a range of desirable outcomes for children and young people. These included: better peer relationships; fewer behaviour problems; lower criminality and substance abuse; higher educational / occupational mobility relative to parents’; capacity for empathy; non-traditional attitudes to earning and childcare; more satisfying adult sexual partnerships; and higher self-esteem, life-satisfaction and ‘locus of control’ – that is, (Pleck & Masciadrelli, 2004). Other substantial studies and reviews (Sarkadi et al, 2008; Flouri, 2005) have delivered similar findings. All this is relevant to children’s educational outcomes, since ‘better functioning’ in life in general tends to correlate with attainment.
Of course, fathers, like mothers, can also influence their children’s development in negative ways – and this is now recognised to be a very important reason for engaging with them. Low levels of father involvement are associated with a range of negative outcomes in children (for review, see Flouri, 2005). Poor outcomes in children are also found where fathers parent in negative ways or are seriously troubled themselves (for review, see Lloyd et al, 2003). Poor outcomes in children are also associated with their fathers’ substance misuse (Velleman, 2004, p.188) and with fathers’ abuse of their children’s mothers (Jaffee et al, 1990)4
It has often been argued that no father is better than a bad father. That can of course be true – just as no mother can be better than a bad mother. However, seeking to improve fathers’ behaviour should be the first port of call, since ‘ending’ the father-child relationship generally brings its own problems, and many fathers, once they are engaged with, can change their behaviour in a positive direction. And when children do not see their fathers, or do not see them very much, they tend to demonise or idealise them (Kraemer, 2005; Gorrell Barnes et al, 1998) or blame themselves for their absence (Pryor & Rodgers, 2001). Being ‘without my dad’ causes most children and young people a lot of distress, anger and self-doubt (Fortin et al, 2006; Laumann-Billings & Emery, 1998); and can contribute to difficulties with peer relationships, including bullying (Parke et al, 2004; Berdondini & Smith, 1996). And when fathers’ absence leaves mothers more stressed because they are struggling to parent alone or because they have less money, then children suffer again (McLanahan, 1997; McLanahan & Teitler, 1999).
Levels/trends in fathers’ involvement in their children’s learning
US research (National Center for Fathering, 2009) reports that while 32% of fathers never visit their child’s classroom and 54% never volunteer at school, the trend for their involvement is upward. Over the past 10 years the percentage of fathers taking their child to school has risen from 38% to 54%; attending class events from 28% to 35%; visiting their child’s classroom from 30% to 41% and volunteering at their child’s school from 20% to 28%. Attending parent-teacher conferences is up from 69% to 77%; attending school meetings from 28% to 35%; and attending school-based parents’ meetings from 47% to 59%.
While similar ‘trend’ data are not yet gathered in the UK, in Scotland the South Lanarkshire ‘Father Figures’ online survey of 177 men (Henderson, 2007) has delivered some baseline data: 86% of the respondent fathers said they read books/newspapers with their children at home; 60% claimed to help with their child’s homework or schoolwork ‘often’, with only 3% ‘never’ helping with this; 77% ‘often’ went to parents’ night, with only 3% ‘never’ attending; only 3% of respondents ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ read their child’s school report card; and only 12% ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ attended their child’s school show.
Another 2007 UK survey (Peters et al, 2008) found that 70% of co-resident fathers and 81% of non-resident parents (mainly men) wanted to be more involved in their children’s education. Mothers were only marginally more likely than fathers (53% compared to 45%) to say they felt ‘very involved’ in their child’s education.
While fathers in all developed countries are less involved than mothers both in their children’s educational settings and in educational activities at home (for review, see Clark, 2009), in many instances his may be related less to gender than to work commitments: Peters et al (2008) found that while fathers overall were helping with homework less often than mothers there were no differences between mothers and fathers who worked full time. Similarly, Williams et al 2002) found 24% of full-time working fathers (compared with 26% of full-time working mothers) reporting feeling very involved in their child’s school life; and 14% of full-time working fathers (compared with 16% of full-time working mothers) helping out in classrooms.
It seems that fathers are involved more often than mothers in specific types of activities in their children’s out of school learning: such as building and repairing, hobbies, IT, maths and physical play (Goldman, 2005).
Click image to read reviews
Fathers’ involvement and children’s educational attainment
Helping fathers be the ‘best fathers they can be’ is clearly of enormous importance to children; and positive outcomes in terms of children’s learning and achievement at school can be traced quite clearly to the quality of their fathers’ engagement with them. Just as poor parenting by fathers (and mothers) is associated with lower educational attainment by their children, so fathers’ affection, support, warm-but-firm parenting style and high levels of ‘parental sensitivity’5 are strongly related to their children’s better educational outcomes. For example:
- “School readiness” in young children is associated with high levels of paternal sensitivity, over and above mothers’ sensitivity (Campbell & von Stauffenberg, 2008)
- Fathers’ support for their children’s autonomy has been found (controlling for a range of variables) to be significantly and uniquely associated with higher levels of reading and mathematics achievement among Grade 3 boys (NICHD, 2008).
Several reliable studies have shown high levels of interest by a father in his child’s schooling and education, his high expectations for their achievement and his greater direct involvement in their learning, education and schools to be associated with their better educational outcomes. These include: better exam / test / class results; higher levels of educational qualification; greater progress at school; better attitudes towards school (e.g. enjoyment); higher educational expectations; and better behaviour at school (e.g. reduced risk of suspension or expulsion). And these outcomes do not derive from the school-involved fathers already being richer or better educated. Whatever the father’s socio-economic level, his high involvement paid off.6
One high quality study demonstrated that a father’s interest in his child’s education is one of the most important factors governing the qualifications he or she will grow up to have in adult life – more important than family background, the child’s individual personality, or poverty. It may well be that the time fathers actually spend with their children on homework and schooling could be more important for their eventual success than the money they bring into the household (for review see Goldman, 2005).
Here are some specific findings:
- A UK survey (Clark et al, 2009) reports children and young people claiming their fathers are the second most important people in their lives to inspire reading (second only to mothers).
- Frequency of fathers’ reading to 1–2 year olds is linked with their greater interest in books later (Lyytinen et al, 1998).
- A significant relationship is found between positive father engagement at age 6, and IQ and educational achievement at age 7 (Gottfried et al, 1988).
- A father’s own education level is an important predictor of his child’s educational achievement7.
- English fathers’ involvement with their children (at ages 7 and 11) correlates with better national examination performance at age 16 (Lewis et al, 1982).
- US fathers’ involvement in routine childcare has been associated with children’s higher school grades (Hoffman & Youngblade, 1999).8
- Low paternal interest in children’s education has a stronger negative impact on children’s lack of qualifications than contact with the police, poverty, family type, social class, housing tenure and child’s personality (Blanden, 2006).
Findings vary as to the relative importance of mothers’ v. fathers’ influence on educational attainment, with no consistent pattern emerging from the research evidence.9
The following studies have charted more powerful influence from fathers than mothersin specific circumstances, although it must be remembered that the quality of these studies varies, and results may be specific to time and place:
In low income communities, fathers’ influence has been found to be more significant than mothers’ for boys’ (but not girls’) escape from disadvantage.10
However, in a wider sample of children born in 1970, fathers’ interest in their children’s educational outcomes when those children were aged 10 predicted educational attainment in their 26 year old daughters, but not their sons (Flouri, 2006).
Fathers exert greater influence than mothers on boys’ educational choices.11
Fathers’ risk-avoidance behaviour12 has a positive impact on sons’ (but not daughters’) educational attainment (Yeung, 2004).
Fathers’ income predicts sons’ (but not daughters’) years of schooling (Yeung, 2004).
In hierarchical communities, fathers’ influence may be more powerful on children of both sexes.13
While within-gender variation is enormous, and parents’ vocabulary use is far more powerfully affected by their education level than their sex, some studies suggest that fathers’ verbal interactions with their children may differ from mothers’; and that this may sometimes be to their children’s advantage. Fathers have been found to use different words with their children (Pancsofar & Vernon-Feagans, 2006); and also more abstract words (Lamb & Tamis-LeMonda, 2004). Topics may also vary by gender, with mothers referring more frequently to emotions (this was found to predict children’s emotional understanding) and fathers more often using causal explanatory language, which predicated their children’s theory of mind (LaBounty et al, 2008).
1 The belief that one can control much of what happens to oneself in life
2 Although biological fathers are of unique important to children – being one of the ‘two people who made me’ – ‘fathers’ in this report are defined widely to include father-figures and other males who are of significance to children in their care.
3 This is really important, as it helps isolate fathers’ influence from other influences.
4 None of this research shows that fathers are a more negative influence on children than mothers are (see Leinonen et al, 2003).
5 Fathers who exhibit ‘parental sensitivity’ generally function as a supportive presence, respect their children’s autonomy and exhibit low levels hostility towards them. This is more often found in men who were older when they first became fathers, hold less traditional child rearing beliefs and report more intimacy with their children’s mothers (NICHD, 2000).
6 McBride et al (2004) found father involvement in school settings mediates the relationship between school, family and neighbourhood factors and academic outcomes. This study is particularly interesting in that it not only looked at fathers’ involvement in terms of activities (‘volunteering’, ‘going on school trips’) but also measured frequency of fathers’ ‘talks with school officials’ as well as their ‘talks with the child’ about events and activities at school. All were associated with better child achievement (see also McBride et al, 2005).
7 While there may be a small genetic effect, the main reason is likely to be that a father’s education affects his behaviour in ways that are vital to his child’s cognitive development, as well as impacting on the material and educational resources he can provide (Yeung, 2004).
8 Fathers’ co-parenting behavior (defined as sharing similar attitudes with mothers toward childrearing practices and resolving family conflicts in a calm way that makes good use of compromise) may in part explain these findings: Yeung (2004) found a one point of increase in fathers’ co-parenting behaviour associated with an almost four-point increase in children’s test scores. Fathers’ co-parenting behaviour was second only to their education level in predicting good educational outcomes for children – and both proved more important than fathers’ income (Yeung, 2004).
9 In some studies fathers are found to be more influential; in others, mothers; and in yet others, parental influence seems to be equivalent.
10 For boys born into poverty, this high quality longitudinal UK study (which controlled for a range of factors, including mother’s interest in education) found having a father with little or no interest in his education reduced boys’ chances of escaping poverty by 25% (Blanden, 2006).
11 Dryler (1998). Mothers’ influence is more powerful for daughters.
12 Such as wearing seatbelts, having savings, and having car insurance.
13 Ang (2006) found Asian fathers’ (but not mothers’) approval, closeness and sympathy with their children associated with positive teacher-child relationships for both boys and girls.
Ang, R.P. (2006). Fathers do matter: evidence from an Asian school-based aggressive sample. American Journal of Family Therapy, 34, 79–93.
Berdondini, L., & Smith, P.K. (1996). Cohesion and power in the families of children involved in bully-victim problems at school: an Italian replication, Journal of Family Therapy, 18, 99–102.
Blanden, J. (2006). ‘Bucking the trend’: What enables those who are disadvantaged in childhood to succeed later in life? Working Paper No 31 Corporate Document Services. London: Department for Work and Pensions.
Clark, C. (2009). Why fathers matter to their children’s literacy. London: National Literacy Trust.
Clark, C., Osborne, S. & Dugdale, G. (2009). Reaching out with role models. London: National Literacy Trust.
Dryler, H. (1998). Parental role models, gender and educational choice. British Journal of Sociology, 49(3), 375–398.
Flouri, E. (2005). Fathering & Child Outcomes. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.
Flouri, E. (2006). Parental interest in children’s education, children’s self-esteem and locus of control, and later educational attainment: Twenty-six year follow-up of the 1970 British birth cohort. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 41–55.
Fortin, J., Ritchie, C., & Buchanan, A. (2006). Young adults’ perceptions of court-ordered contact. Child and Family Law Quarterly, 18(2), 211–229.
Goldman, R. (2005). Fathers’ Involvement in their Children’s Education. London: National Family and Parenting Institute.
Gorrell Barnes, G., Thompson, P., Daniel, G., & Burchardt, N. (1998). Growing up in Stepfamilies. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Guterman, N.B., & Lee, Y. (2005). The role of fathers in risk for physical child abuse and neglect: possible pathways and unanswered questions. Child Maltreatment, 10(2), 136–149.
Henderson, R. (2007). Father Figures Survey. Hamilton: South Lanarkshire Home School Partnership, Council Offices
Hoffman, L.W., & Youngblade, L.M. (1999). Mothers at work: Effects on children’s well-being. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Jaffee, S.R., Wolfe, D. & Wilson, S. (1990). Children of Battered Women. London: Sage Publications.
Kraemer, S. (2005): Narratives of fathers and sons: there is no such thing as a father. In A. Vetere & E. Dowling (eds.), Narrative Therapies with Children and their Families: A Practitioners Guide to Concepts and Approaches. London: Brunner/Routledge.
LaBounty, J., Wellman, H. M., Olson, S., Lagattuta, K. & Liu, D. (2008). Mothers’ “and” fathers’ use of internal state talk with their young children. Social Development, 17, 757–775.
Lamb, M.E. & Tamis-LeMonda, C.S. (2004). The role of the father. In M.E. Lamb (ed.), The role of the father in child development (pp. 1–31). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Laumann-Billings, L.L., & Emery, R.E. (1998). Young adults’ painful feelings about parental divorce. Unpublished paper, University of Virginia.
Leinonen, J.A., Solantaus, T.S., & Punamaki, R.-L. (2003). Parental mental health and children’s mental health adjustment: the quality of marital interaction and parenting as mediating factors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 227–241.
Lewis, C., Newson, L J., & Newson, E. (1982). Father participation through childhood. In N. Beail & J. McGuire (eds.)., Fathers: Psychological Perspectives. London: Junction.
Lloyd, N., O’Brien, M., & Lewis, C. (2003). Fathers in Sure Start Local Programmes. Report 04 National Evaluation of Sure Start. London: Birkbeck, University of London.
Lyytinen, P., Laasko, M., & Poikkeus, S. (1998). Parental contribution to child’s early language and interest in books. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 13, 297–308.
McBride, B.A., Schoppe-Sullivan S.J., & Ho, M.H. (2005). The mediating role of fathers’ school involvement on students’ achievement. Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 201–216.
McBride, C.M., Baucom, D.H., Peterson, B.L. Pollack, K.I., Palmer, C., Westman, E. et al (2004). Prenatal and postpartum smoking abstinence: a partner-assisted approach. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 27(3), 232–238.
McLanahan, S.S. (1997). Paternal absence or poverty: which matters more? In G. Duncan & J. Brooks-Gunn (eds.), Consequences of Growing Up Poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
McLanahan, S., & Teitler, J. (1999). The consequences of father absence. In M.E. Lamb (ed.), Parenting and Child Development in ‘Nontraditional Families’. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
National Center for Fathering (2009). Survey of fathers’ involvement in their children’s learning. View the summary
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2000). Factors associated with fathers’ caregiving activities and sensitivity with young children. Journal of Family Psychology, 14.
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2008). Mothers’ and fathers’ support for child autonomy and early school achievement. Developmental Psychology, 44 (4).
Pancsofar, N. and Vernon-Feagans, L. (2006), Mother and father language input to young children: contributions to later language development. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 571–587.
Parke, R.D., Dennis, J., Flyr, J.L., Morris, K.L., Killian, C., McDowell, D.J., et al (2004). Fathering and children’s peer relationships. In M.E. Lamb (ed.), The Role of the Father in Child Development (4th ed.). Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Peters, M., Seeds, K., Goldstein, A. & Coleman, N. (2008). Parental Involvement in Children’s Education 2007. Research Report. DCSF RR034.
Pleck, J.H., & Masciadrelli, B.P. (2004). Paternal Involvement by U.S. residential fathers: levels, sources and consequences. In M.E. Lamb (ed.), The Role of the Father in Child Development (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Pryor, J., & Rodgers, B. (2001). Children in Changing Families: life after parental separation. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008).Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta Paediatrica 97(2), 153–158.
Velleman, R. (2004). Alcohol and drug problems in parents: an overview of the impact on children and implications for practice. In M. Gopfert, J. Webster & M.V. Seeman (eds.), Parental Psychiatric Disorder: distressed parents and their families (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Washbrook, L. (2007). Fathers, Childcare and Children’s Readiness to Learn. Working Paper No. 07/175. Bristol: University of Bristol.
Williams, B., Williams, J. & Ullman, A. (2002). Parental involvement in education. RR 332. London: DfES.
Yeung, W.J. (2004). Fathers: an overlooked resource for children’s school success. In D. Conley & K. Albright (eds.), After the Bell: Solutions Outside the School. London: Routledge.
© The Fatherhood Institute, January 2009