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Posts Tagged ‘Successful Aging’

Kicking yourself up the assets

Posted by telos on January 28, 2008

Taking an asset-based or positive approach to life is often viewed it seems as a ‘glass half empty, glass half full’ situation. But I think it is much more than that. As I mentioned in my previous post, the growing field of Positive Psychology has demonstrated time and again that viewing things from an asset-based, positive or optimistic manner is far more than just ‘Positive Thinking” which I think for most people has more of the feel of the philosophy espoused by Stuart Smalley, late of Saturday Night Live “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

Educational research out of Stanford in the 1980’s with teachers and teaching performance reported that an approach focusing and building on the teacher’s ‘assets’ (i.e. their strengths, and what they did well) promoted high quality learning, while an approach focusing on the teacher’s ‘deficits’ (i.e. their weakness, and correcting what they were doing ‘wrong’) was far less effective in eliciting quality learning. Yet this ‘deficit-based’ approach is still out there in education and in behavior change.

One of the best known hypotheses in the area of Successful Aging is “The Compression of Morbidity”. This refers to the idea that the period of sickness (morbidity) at the end of life may be reduced (compressed) by adopting healthier lifestyles. This hypothesis has recieved much attention in the field of gerontology and as a professor I have talked about it myself on many occasions. With my ‘new thinking’ hat on however, I see that, although this hypothesis was clearly aimed at doing good, it was actually taking the ‘getting less bad’ approach. Not much assett-kicking going on here! Instead there is an obvious dichotomy between “Successful Aging” – a positive, asset-based concept, and “The Compression of Morbidity” a negative, deficit-based concept. So here’s my Teleosity-based, assett-kicking version of this hypothesis. You heard it here first! Instead of “Compression” – why not “Expansion”? Instead of “Morbidity” – why not “Mobility”? And so we have “The Expansion of Mobility”. In other words ‘being better, longer’ instead of ‘being worse, shorter’.  I like it already!

So as you think about situations and goals in your life – what assets are kicking up for you?

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