Usually our moods can dictate what we tend to focus on. Particularly, when we are sad or simply feel hopeless, we identify with elements in our environment that are just as somber and sad as us. Whether it’s picking out the darkest colors while we’re shopping or gravitating towards friends who are similarly troubled, our feelings do tend to influence our thoughts as well as our behaviors.
In the corporate setting, stress can really take its toll on employees, often leading to burnout. And when things get quite tough, their general outlook can also be affected. In psychology we learn various ways in which we can help determine how well an individual is based on objective tests as well as projective techniques. I personally prefer projective methods because of their flexible nature. Projective techniques were made to get a glimpse into the subjective experiences of individuals and can support data derived from objective personality tests.
As a challenge to corporate employees and a quick test, I wondered if when put under time pressure (15-seconds), employees would fair well in identifying happiness when presented a montage of pictures that carry both negative and positive emotions. Would depressed individuals naturally gravitate towards the sad photos? Would they have trouble completing the task?
My hypothesis in this challenge is that depressed individuals naturally gravitate towards elements that may weigh heavy emotionally. In order to conquer negative thoughts and feelings, short challenges like this train their brains to seek what is positive and enriching in their environment. What I have learned is that sometimes 15-seconds is all we need to stop and take a better look around. While talk therapy is ideal, I find that when we learn how to make things fun, we can certainly help re-train our own brains to seek what is good in the world around us.
Do you know someone who may be having trouble with depression? Why not try this activity with them. Here are a few tips to help you:
1) Make a list. Begin by making a list together of all the things that make them happy or find enriching in their lives
2) Prepare for the scavenger hunt. Collect photos or mementos that you can spread around the house / room. Make sure you strategically place them in unique places so that the game becomes more exciting
3) Set a time limit. Agree on a time limit
4) Give the list back to your friend / partner. And send them off on their hunt for happiness!