Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Magic of a Goal

Do you believe in magic? If you asked me this question I’d say “no.” When it comes to magic, there’s always a trick. This is why I don’t enjoy watching a magician. I want to believe what she is performing is real, but I know that I’m being deceived by her skilled ability to draw my attention away from her hidden actions. Magic is trickery, not supernatural power.

There’s one exception. Goals. Let me illustrate.

The reason I’m writing this blog post on November 30th at a time when I’d rather go to bed is because I have a goal to write two blog posts each month. I’ve met this goal for the past couple years. Yes, I could write on December 1st but then my website wouldn’t show two posts for November. A goal works like a supernatural power to make things happen.

I experienced the same “magic” on October 31st. At the beginning of the year I set a goal to get a flu shot by the end of October. When I realized it was the last day of the month, I put forth the effort to get my shot. No goal. No shot. Magic.

Where else can goals perform magic? Everywhere. I have a goal to go to cycling class three times each week. At the beginning of the week I write these classes on my calendar. Almost every day I can come up with a reason to skip class just this once.  But I don’t because I want to meet my goal. Magic.

Where would you like to perform magic? Name it, and then create a goal to get you there. In writing your goal, be specific. Make your goal measurable and realistic, but don’t play it too safe. Your goal should excite you. Most important, your goal should help you achieve something that can only happened with the help of a little magic.

Copyright 2019. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Savor It!

The last weekend in October Dave and I went to Norwich, Vermont to attend a pasta making class at King Arthur Flour’s baking school. In the three-hour class we learned the fine art of making fresh pasta—weighing the flour, incorporating the eggs, kneading the dough, and cutting it into common shapes. 

We invited friends to join us—Dave’s college roommate and his wife. The fun started before class when we got together to enjoy a beer and glass of wine while catching up on what’s happening in our lives. The laughter carried on as we worked to form the perfect shaped fettuccine, ravioli and tortellini, followed with a pasta meal after class. 

Even though two weeks have passed since our class, positive emotion lingers as we reflect on our time together and the shared practice of pasta making. Actually, this isn’t surprising considering this experience has all the ingredients for creating a psychological state called savoring.

According to Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff, authors of Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience, people have “capacities to attend to, appreciate and enhance positive experiences in their lives.” Strategies that boost this capacity include sharing an experience with others, having pictures or a memento to remember the event, celebrating the event, engaging all our senses in the experience, and being completely absorbed in the activity. As I said, all these “ingredients” were present in our pasta-making weekend.

If we wanted pasta for dinner, we could have saved $170 by going to the grocery store and paying $1.00 for a pound of fettuccine. We could have avoided driving three hours from Saratoga to Norwich, and back. But if we had done this, I wouldn’t be writing about the experience. It would not have contributed to an ongoing sense of happiness and positive emotion.

Now that we’re “expert” pasta makers, our plan is to host pasta-making parties with friends. And in doing so, we’ll create more opportunities for positive experiences.

Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved. Patrice Jenkins.