What an amazing journey I have been privileged to take. When I originally submitted my MS story, I had no idea where this program would take me. I certainly didn’t know what to expect when I got off the plane in Denver back in July. There, I was introduced to the other four participants who probably felt the same way I did but because of our MS commonality there was an immediate bond. We were all introduced to Shawn Achor, author of the book “The Happiness Advantage.” He shared scientific research that supports what we intuitively know, that “happiness fuels success” and that “when we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive.” Shawn taught 7 principles that lead to happiness and challenged us all to use those principles in our journey toward our individual goals.
Michelle, my life coach, supported my journey by helping me to navigate toward my goal of dating. She was able to help me identify my personal strengths of self-awareness, adaptability, and acceptance that I could utilize as I worked toward my goal. It helped me to have someone point these attributes out to me. It wasn’t all easy. About 1/3 of the way into the program, I wasn’t sure dating was even what I wanted. I don’t know if it was fear or if I truly just didn’t want to be bothered with dating. But I was having second thoughts. So when Michelle gave me the Pros and Cons homework, I already had a preconceived idea of how it was going to turn out. My immediate reaction was to think the list of Cons would be much greater than those on the positive side. For me, that project was my A-HA moment. Because in my new journey I had been training to think positively, I was able to see there were many more Pros to dating than I had allowed myself to envision.
All throughout the program, changes were occurring in me that I wasn’t even fully aware of. I started opening up to people. (Having a camera on me so many times actually helped me get over that fear.) It was easier to “put myself out there.” A casual friendship through a mutual interest started to evolve when I started to take down the protective wall I had built up. I had used him as a sounding board throughout the program as I struggled with the idea of dating. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and open. We talked about everything: kids, single life, and even my MS. I asked him to be in the program’s hometown video to show that I was being more social. By that time, I was at least open to the idea of dating if someone were interested in dating me.
Somewhere along the way, the friendship deepened and in October, he asked me out on a real date! And here’s the sweet part that won me over: I found out that he called my daughters to ask their permission to date me since he knew they were the biggest hesitancy in my dating.
So, if you ask me if this program was successful and if the principles of positive psychology work, I will shout a resounding YES!!!!