Thursday, 24 December 2015

The mystery of the card in the window...

...continues. I mentioned in a couple of previous blog posts back in September (here and here) that I had noticed a playing card appearing in the window of a local bank each morning when I walked past.

Well, some recent walk pasts have revealed that the cards have appeared again. On some days, the Queen of Spades. And on another day, the Five of Diamonds.

Still not figured out why. Just felt I should tell you... :-)



Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Go Luck Yourself! Session 6

And so we arrive at session 6 of Go Luck Yourself! In this final session, we essentially bring together the ideas from previous sessions and add a few more for good measure. The aim is that by the end of the session, you are left with all you need to, well, 'go luck yourself!'. There are two parts to the session. After part b, if you completed the online questionnaires prior to the first session, you are invited to complete these measures again now. In part b, you'll hear me say that the link will be emailed to participants one week after session 6... For ease, I have simply included the link below the session 6b video.

[If you have stumbled here without having watched sessions 1-5, then you should take a look here to be suitably introduced to the Go Luck Yourself! project.]





And with those deeply wise words (!), all that is left for me to do is point you to the questionnaires for you to complete if you wish (and if you completed them prior to watching session 1)... They can be accessed here.

And you're done! Thank you for sticking with it. Do let me know if, and how, the project has had an impact. That might be through a Luck Journal you have kept, or you can email me, or simply through a comment here on the blog. I look forward to hearing from you :-)

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Go Luck Yourself! Session 5

If you now find you are 'going with the flow' more than you have ever before, have you found this has had any impact on your experience of 'luck'? Please would let me know and tell me how you're getting on using the comments section here on the blog?

In the meantime, it's time to take a look at Session 5, which is cryptically entitled 'Stercus Accidit', the meaning of which you will soon discover when you watch the first part. The focus here is about how we might use psychological ideas to help us deal with 'bad luck'. There are a total of 3 parts to the recording, plus an additional (and powerful) clip of an interview with somone called Martine Wright.

[If you have stumbled here without having watched sessions 1-4, then you should take a look here to be suitably introduced to the Go Luck Yourself! project.]



 

And so to the clip of the interview Martine Wright... A phenomenal and inspiring story. If the clip below is the only one you watch from your time spent on this blog, then your time will not have been wasted. It's not an easy watch, but one you will value...



Session 6, the final session of Go Luck Yourself! will be posted on Wednesday 23rd December 2015. Give yourself an early Christmas present and come back then as we bring it all together and explore some final thoughts. Until then.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Go Luck Yourself! Session 4

As we delve into the second half of the 'Go Luck Yourself!' project (remember there are a total of 6 sessions), we are again building on what we have explored so far: embracing luck, the 'good luck mindset', and noticing and creating opportunities. Have you started to notice any changes in your experience of 'luck'? Please use the comments section on any of these blog posts to share your experience.

[If you have stumbled here without having watched sessions 1-3, then you should take a look here to be suitably introduced to the Go Luck Yourself! project.]

In this session, which you'll see is in 3 parts, we look at the value of 'going with the flow'. It sounds rather glib, but the idea is that adopting this approach to many things in our lives may be one of the most powerful ways to allow ourselves to be influenced by luck, chance, and unplanned events. Anyway, let's see what he man in the black shirt has to say...


...and when you're ready, here's part b:


Please take a moment to listen to this mindfulness practice after you have watched Session 4b and before watching Session 4c. You are encouraged to also try listening to some or all of the other short mindfulness practices offered by the counselling service at Bucks New University here.


...which brings us to the end of Session 4! Thoughts? Please feel free to post comments here on the blog, and if you're keeping a Luck Journal then #DFYLJ!

Session 5 will be available from Wednesday 9th December. Follow the blog to get an update when it goes live :-)

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Go Luck Yourself! Session 3

And so we reach session three of the Go Luck Yourself! project... where the fun really starts. Session 1 invited us to first note the role that luck plays in different parts of our lives, and in Session 2 we were encouraged to adopt a 'good luck mindset', one that is characterised by gratitude and optimism. You might have found those quite easy, or a bit of challenge. Either way, when are you aready to move forward, Session 3 builds on this and look at how we might start to notice and create the kinds of opportunities that allow luck to show itself. Start with Session 3a and then, when instructed to, pause the session to watch the 'selective attention test' below.

[If you have stumbled here without having watched sessions 1 and 2, then you should take a look here to be suitably introduced to the Go Luck Yourself! project.]

Please watch this short video when instructed to do so in Session 3a. You should pause the recording of the session above while you watch this clip.  As an added extra, (or if you have seen the video before) afterwards you might also want to take a look at this one.


When you have watched the short clip above, return to watch the rest of session 3a. As that part ends, you are encouraged to take a moment to pause and listen to the short (5 min) mindfulness practice called 'a new page' available here. When you have had a chance to do that, continue with Session 3b below in your own time. If you would like to sample some more short mindfulness resources, you can try listening to some or all of the other short mindfulness practices offered here.

So, until next time see if you can put the ideas discussed here into practice over the coming weeks and see if they help you to both notice as well as creat opportunities. If you are keeping a Luck Journal then please note your experiences there (i.e., #DFYLJ!), and feel free to share here on the blog.

Session 4, where we will look at the value of 'going with the flow' and the importance of trusting in unplanned events, will be posted in two weeks on Wednesday 25th November 2015. Follow the blog to get an alert by email when the Session 4 post goes live.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Go Luck Yourself! Session 2

Those two weeks went pretty quickly didn't they? If you are now finding you are embracing the role that luck (or 'luck' if you are a bit of purist) plays in your life then I think you are ready to jump into Session 2, the focus of which is the 'good luck mindset'. As you'll discover, part (a) introduces the idea of the good luck mindset and explores the importance of gratitude, and part (b) extends this to look at how an optimistic outlook might be cultivated. Combined, they form the basis of what I'm calling here a 'good luck mindset'.

If you're still having a hard time appreciating the role that luck, in terms of unplanned events, chance encounters, and so on plays in your life then by all means spend a little longer with this and even watch Session 1 again. Similarly, if you have found your way here through some way other than having watched Session 1, then please take a look here first.




Take a moment note just three things (or more if you want to!) that you are grateful for, before moving on to watch part b:


So, what do you think? Will you give it a try? Would you see if and how adopting a 'good luck mindset' over the coming weeks has any impact on your experiences of 'luck'? Please use the comments section to tell me how you get on!

Session 3, where we look at some important ideas linked with noticing and creating opportunities (central to that age-old idea of "making your own luck"!), will be posted in two weeks on Wednesday 11th November 2015. Follow the blog to get an alert by email when the session 3 post goes live.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Go Luck Yourself! Session 1

Welcome to the Go Luck Yourself! project...

For a little more background to the project, click here. To complete some online questionnaires and contribute data then please go to bucks.ac.uk/luck. If you have already done that, or you just want to jump straight in, then by all means click on Session 1a (Overview) to get started and then Session 1b and 1c to hear more about 'embracing luck'. Enjoy!






So that, my friends, is session 1... Exciting stuff eh? Please take some time to reflect on the role of 'luck', or unplanned events, in your life to date. In the weeks to come, make a point of noticing how so many events, some seemingly quite trivial, and some more obviously significant, are down to 'luck' in the way we describe it here. And feel free to leave a comment on the blog telling me what you notice! Remember, you can get in touch to ask for a hard copy 'Luck Journal' if you would like one, or just keep your own in a handy notebook. (In the clips, you may hear me referring to an online version on 'Blackboard'... this was something we only used the first time the project ran.)

Session 2, exploring the 'good-luck mindset' will be posted on Wednesday 28th October 2015. Follow the blog to get an alert by email when the session 2 post goes live.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Introducing the Go Luck Yourself! project

A cursory browse through the archives of the blog would reveal more than a passing interest here in the concept of luck. To be more precise, my interest is in the psychology of luck. That is, how we tend to think about luck and how this impacts upon how we deal with those kinds of experiences we typically attribute to luck. With this in mind, last year I put together a little research project to explore how ideas drawn from positive psychology might impact upon people's experiences of 'luck'. The project consisted of six sessions, under the title of 'Go Luck Yourself!'*, and was very much inspired by Richard Wiseman's 'Luck School' as described in his book 'The Luck Factor' (which I've written about in a post some time back).

The project ran over 12 weeks, with a fortnightly session running on a Wednesday lunchtime on the campus of Bucks New University (where I work) and posted online later the same day. The reason I'm telling you all this is because I'm going to post these recordings, and associated materials, on this blog over the coming weeks in the hope that a few more people may access them and perhaps even contribute data. [Update (Dec 2015): All six sessions are now on the blog, and are designed to be viewed fortnightly. Feel free to work through all six sessions as quickly, or as slowly, as you wish!]

In the first instance, if you haven't already, you need to go to bucks.ac.uk/luck to complete some online questionnaires. This is only if you are willing to contribute data to the project. You will then be asked to complete the same measures at the end of the project. You will also hear me talk about something that is excitingly referred to as a 'Luck Journal' (it is a book with the words 'Luck Journal' on the front...). I have a small number of these if you would like a hard-copy journal to write in. You can either email me your address at matthew.smith@bucks.ac.uk or leave a comment on the blog to tell me where you would like me to post it to.

Once you have completed the questionnaires at bucks.ac.uk/luck, or if you decide not to contribute data, you can access the first session materials here.


*I am indebted to Scott Cornwall for the project name. A couple of years ago, he suggested I should write a book called Go Luck Yourself!, or Luck Off!, or For Luck's Sake!, etc. You get the idea. The GLY! suggestion is the one that stuck as it really captured the idea behind this project... What things can you do to influence your own luck. Thank you Scott, I am indebted to you (though let me abolutely clear that this is in a metaphorical sense, not a financial one).


Saturday, 19 September 2015

Or was it this card?

I walked past the bank again yesterday. Queen of Spades this time. Any takers?

Friday, 18 September 2015

Is this the card you were thinking of...?

Five of diamonds? Anyone thinking of the five of diamonds? No? Oh well, I guess in time, if enough people read this post then at least one of you will have been thinking of the five of diamonds.

The reason I ask is that every so often I walk past a certain high street bank down the end of our road, and in the window of the bank is a playing card. Not every day, just some days. The other day it was the five of diamonds. So I took a picture.

I don't know why the card is there, I can only assume that somebody who works there (or a customer?) is putting the card there as some kind of set-up for a magic trick? Any other suggestions?

Friday, 14 August 2015

Learning for a Small Planet

One of the things that has brought me back to blogging is that I recently submitted my reflective journal for a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Technology-enhanced Learning (T-eL). This was, in part, supposed to capture my learning journey on the PGCert over the past year so don't tell anyone that I actually wrote (revised and edited) many of the blog posts in the month or so before I submitted it... If you're interested in T-eL, e-learning, or learning and teaching in general, please feel free to take a look.

It's clear that T-eL is now very much a central part of learning and teaching at all levels, and will only become more so in the years to come. Etienne Wenger-Trayner is a key theorist in this space (as they say) and it is from him I borrow the title of this post.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Cough... splutter...!

That's the sound of a blog limping back to life. This blog has been in a bit of 'suspended animation'...  a 'hiatus' if you will, for well over a year. It's about time I attempted to breathe a little life back into it. What I'm saying is, my intention is that I will start blogging again. Big deal, you say. (Big assumption that there is a 'you' that is reading this!)

Ah well, that's the aim anyway. Time will tell. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

How to be happy?

 

Today is the UN International Day of Happiness! That's right, 20th March is a day on which you are 'officially' encouraged to pursue happiness. You might not think you need the encouragement of an 'official' day to help you prioritise your own happiness, even for just one day, but many of us don't actually do this. Surprising, seeing as the one thing we would most want for our children is for them to 'be happy'!

With this in mind, it gives me great pleasure (dare I say it makes me happy!) on this day to tell you about 'positive psychology', a fast-growing sub-discipline within academic psychology dedicated to the study of what makes life worth living, optimal human functioning, and within this: happiness. I feel very fortunate to be involved with one of the few MSc Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) courses in which students can study this subject at university at a postgraduate level. In fact, the course is one of only two MAPP courses in the UK, and one of only around ten in the world!  The students this course attracts are an impressive and diverse group who travel far and wide to take the course with a view to applying what they learn in their own personal and working lives. In fact, the 'word-cloud' above represents the 'language of positive psychology' as expressed by our students over the past week when capturing their thoughts in relation to the course.

One way in which we are marking the International Day of Happiness is through one of our MAPP students, Lesley Lyle, who (amongst other things) is the author of a new book Laugh Your Way to Happiness (published by Watkins books). Over the last year or so, Lesley has been sending out 'Laughter Buddies' (see picture) to encourage people to spend more time doing things they enjoy (with their Laughter Buddy or LB), photographing their LB mid-activity, and sharing these through a dedicated Laughter Buddies Facebook page.


On 20th March 2014, we are sending 10 extra special Laughter Buddies out into the world (well, High Wycombe...) with the instructions to their initial owners to do something fun (they love to have fun!), take a photo, post it on the Facebook page, and then pass their LB on to a friend they can trust to do the same. We will follow the travels of these Laughter Buddies over the coming year via the Facebook page until next year's International Day of Happiness. How far will they travel? And who will be touched by their uncanny ability to bring a little joy and laughter into people's lives?  In the meantime, if you would like to find out how you can get involved (of course you do!), then you can contact Lesley via the Laughter Buddies Facebook page.

Even without a Laughter Buddy by your side, there is plenty you can do on this Day of Happiness (or any day) to boost your own wellbeing. So, with thanks to leading positive psychologist and author of The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, I'll leave you with some quick tips on how to increase your happiness, all of which have been shown to have lasting effects upon levels of personal happiness:

1. Express gratitude: Encourage yourself to stop and think of three things for which you are grateful. Gives an immediate boost to your wellbeing! 

2. Practice acts of kindness: Go and do something nice for someone. It will make you both happier. 

3. Nurture social relationships: Connect with a friend. Phone one you haven't spoken to in a while and wish them a happy day of happiness! 

4. Increase 'Flow': Do something you love doing, where you lose all sense of time. Do it more often. 

5. Get yourself a Laughter Buddy: OK, I added this one and the evidence may not be there yet. But having a good laugh does release oxytocin in the brain, a neurochemical associated with trust and empathy. i.e., laughing is good for the soul.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

It was 20 years ago today


It was one of my students who reminded me that today was the 20th anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks. Amazing that 20 years has passed so quickly and that he was only 32 when he died. Hicks was simply one of the funniest and most powerful comics I have seen perform. He is dearly missed and clearly his routines still resonate with young adults today. Click on the 'Bill Hicks' label below for more blog posts on the great man and clips of some of his performances. Or don't. Your choice.

[In fact don't... for some reason, clicking on this label will only show you this post. It doesn't find earlier posts with this label. You can search this blog for 'Bill Hicks' instead if you're really interested.]