Dr Tal Ben-Shahar – Harvard Open Courses 1504 – Positive Psychology 19

This session is about love and relationship.

I like this session especially as it taught me to understand an unsuccessful relationship and to learn what makes relationship thrive. It took me longer to complete this session comparing to other sessions as I needed a break each time when Tal said something that touched me.

What makes a relationship thrive?

  • working hard (When we have the finding mindset, it threatens our schema. We need to have cultivating mindset, it’s malleable mindset that will help us work on hardship)
  • what makes the relationship unique is not finding that right person; it’s cultivating that one chosen relationship. It’s by virtue of working together, of being together,  of spending time together, of dedicating one another.
  • having mutually meaningful goals and working together.
  • active love and rituals
  • making that shift from the desire to be validated to the desire to be known – we need to open-up ourselves, for instance our weakness, our insecurity – express rather than impress.
  • allowing for conflict in a relationship
  • happy relationship, love is in the details
  • healthy communication
  • keep the conflict/dispute private
  • positive perception

The Golden rule: Do not do unto to others what you would not have done unto yourself.
The Platinum rule: Do not do unto yourself what you would not have done unto others.
The Tritium rule: Do not do unto those who close to you what you would not have done unto those who are not so close to you.

Interesting research findings:

  • Behaviour management research shows that healthy teams have cognitive conflict (focusing on the person’s behaviour, thoughts or ideas) rather than affective conflict (focusing on the person, the emotion, or who they are).
  • Women generally are better at fights than men. It has a physiological reason for it. When men feel attacked or threatened or disapproved, they have more physiological respond to it, they avoid it and switch off.

People and their work:

  • David Schnarch and John Gottman
  • Carol Dweck – fixed and malleable mindset
  • Muzafer Sherif – argued that Gordon Allport’s work “contact hypothesis” in 1930s was not enough and couldn’t resolve the conflict.
  • David Schnarch’s book Passionate Marriage
  • Parker Palmer’s book The Courage to Teach
  • John Gottman – one right relationship in all relationships is that they all have conflicts. In average, they have one conflict for each five positive interactions
  • John Gottman’s study on gay couples – different to different sex couples, when they have conflicts, they touch, hug or make a smoothing way of reducing the conflicts.
  • Sandra Murray’s term “positive illusions”. Tal disagreed the use of the world “illusions”. For him, it’s real and a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Brad Little’s term “illusory grow “
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