The Power of Positivity and Reflection
By: Leah Hollenberger
Northern Vermont University recently held its “Dinner with the Boss,” an event that welcomes students and alumni to give students experience in networking. Alumni were asked to share one “gem” they felt would be most helpful to students just beginning their journey in pursuing their chosen career. The advice was excellent, thought-provoking, and inspirational.
Common to each piece of advice was the importance of being authentic to yourself, using reflection to determine what is truly meaningful to you, and the strength of community. In short, embracing your heart as well as your mind and nurturing connectivity.
It reminded me of an exercise I did years ago as a participant in the ALIGN pilot program at Marlboro College. Through self-examination, careful observation, and reflection, I was able to develop a short specific list of what I need to have in my life on a monthly basis to stay healthy, positive, and engaged – what I would define as a successful life. I keep this list, typed out, in my desk drawer and I refer to it when I am frustrated, overwhelmed or stressed out. Typically, I quickly determine that I’ve neglected one of those items and refocus my actions. The exercise effectively improved my ability to reframe challenges in a positive, nurturing perspective instead of from an unhealthy, negative framework. Change is constant and I continue to use these tools that embrace heart and mind, my “attitude of gratitude,” to guide me in meaningful action.
There are many programs, books, blogs, and Instagram accounts available today that embrace this authenticity and provide tools to individuals and communities.
- Marlboro College continues to offer a similar leadership program to the pilot in which I participated.
- The Positive Education movement, based on the work of Martin Seligman’s work in positive psychology, embraces heart and mind via curriculum and in-school programming.
- Resiliency efforts, including the Resilience Beyond Incarceration program with the Lamoille Restorative Center and programs at the Lamoille Family Center that address Adverse Childhood Experiences, utilize this work.
- Whole Heart, Inc. has a wellness model, similar to the exercise I did, that gives you a way to personally define your successful life.
- Ted Talks has several presentations regarding positive psychology.
My favorite piece of advice from “Dinner with the Boss” was a spur-of-the-moment adlib from an experienced educator. It demonstrated heart and mind by showing how a simple action can guarantee inclusivity without making a person declare a need while at the same time increasing the odds that her key message would be heard. What was the advice? “Always use the microphone.”
What tools do you use to encourage authenticity? What advice would you give a young person starting to pursue their career?
Leah Hollenberger is the Development and External Relations Officer for Northern Vermont University. She helped create the Live Well Lamoille Blog while serving as Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and spends her free time volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.