Spring Is Almost Here

February 20, 2016 Carol 5 comments

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow on Groundhog Day, February 2, 2016! Interpreting Phil’s behavior, the Groundhog Club emcee proclaimed, “There is no shadow to be cast! An early spring is my forecast!”

Spring is almost here!

Build a Spring positivity portfolio.
Initiate upward spirals toward enhanced emotional well-being.
Spring Is Almost Here
Spring Almost in View

Speaking of Punxsutawney Phil, did you watch Groundhog Day again this year? I did, and once again, enjoyed it tremendously. This time I uncovered a new insight. (Sure it was there all along, but this was the first time I noticed it!)

Below a certain ratio of positive to negative [emotions],  people get pulled into downward spirals, their behavior becomes rigid and predictable, and they begin to feel burdened and lifeless.

Positive emotions have a kind of alluring glitter dust on them. You want to rearrange your day to get more of those sparkling moments. — Barbara Fredrickson, The Sun Magazine | The Science Of Happiness

It was love that broke Phil Connors’ stagnation. Until Rita came into his life, Phil was wallowing in negative emotions. Positive psychologists tell us that negative emotions narrow our thought-action repertoires, effectively making it difficult to escape ruts, to form new behaviors. Phil’s rut is metaphorically represented by the day he cannot escape — February 2, Groundhog Day. Fortunately for Phil, he falls in love with Rita. Love is a hugely powerful positive emotion. And positive emotions broaden people’s mindsets; their thinking becomes more creative, integrative, flexible and open to information. Love helped Phil him to become a better version of himself. It allowed him to grow and move on.

A Positivity Exercise

Before we continue, I invite you to stop and do this positivity exercise with me.

Step 1: Begin with a meditation.

  • Close your eyes. Slow your breath.
  • Think “Spring.”
  • What images come to mind?
  • Can you conjure up certain smells and sounds?
  • What memories?
  • Feelings?
  • Any of these positive emotions: Joy, Gratitude, Serenity, Interest, Hope, Pride, Amusement, Inspiration, Awe, Love?

Step 2: Build a Positivity Portfolio.

Happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember.  —  Oscar Levant

A positivity portfolio (or positive portfolio) is one approach to the intentional cultivation of positive emotions. Here’s a good description:

The positive portfolio is intended to be a verbal, visual, and/or auditory collection of materials conducive of a particular affective state. You are asked to select a particular affective state you would like to practice (e.g. gratitude, confidence, joy, peace, love, acceptance, determination, satisfaction). Then brainstorm what music, poems, pictures, letters, emails, cards, objects, and the like you could include in your portfolio.

Place your portfolio in whatever binder, folder, or container works best given its contents. I used magnets and put one of my portfolios up on my refrigerator. Go wild – think outside the box.

For my Positive Psychology class, we were asked to begin by selecting one of the ten positive emotions, and then to “pull together a personalized set of objects and mementos that create for you a heartfelt connection to this one emotion.”

What I am proposing here is a “twist” on the customary version. Omit the step of selecting a particular positive emotion. Instead, base your portfolio on any or all of the positive emotions that you associate with Spring. So, to qualify for your collection, the object or artifact must:

  1. Be one that you associate with Spring (for whatever your personal reasons).
  2. Create a heartfelt connection to any positive emotion.

My Positivity Exercise

Meditation

What memories do I associate with Spring?

When I close my eyes, and think “Spring,” the first images I get are tied to some very early memories. I see myself sitting on the steps of the front porch in “the brown house.” I’m a toddler. I’m wearing just a sweater, and even at that age, thinking to myself how great it is to be wearing only a sweater. How free and light! I gaze out at the magnolia tree in our front yard. To this day it is one of my favorite flowering trees.

Spring Is Almost Here
Magnolia Tree

What emotions do I associate with Spring?

Hope

First and foremost, Hope! Hope is one of my favorite emotions. Barbara Fredrickson expresses it very nicely:

One of my favorite positive emotions, because it actually occurs in situations where the circumstances are not positive at all, is hope. You know it’s like the next possible emotion might be despair. … with hope, it’s kind of fearing the worst, but yearning for better and that kind of situation fearing the worst, yearning for better kind of pulls out people’s inventiveness. And and increases their resilience to hard times.

Spring Hope emerges from new growth, birth, and je ne sais quoi what else!


Gratitude

For anyone living in a climate that includes harsh winters, Gratitude has to be included. As I write this post, it is 4° RealFeel® -12°. Can you imagine how grateful we in New England will feel at the first sign of Spring?

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
Anne Bradstreet, Meditations Divine and Moral

Spring Is Almost Here
When It Exceeds Our Ability To Understand

Joy

I mean the kind of joy that makes you want to play!


Awe

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves just how awesome Mother Nature is.

Spring Is Almost Here
Laurel watching ants

As a child, I spent many happy hours ant-watching. Did you?

Spring Is Almost Here
First Butterfly in May

I love butterflies. When I was a kid, growing up in Massachusetts, they were quite plentiful. The Monarch is one of my favorites. I couldn’t remember when in Spring the Monarch would appear, so I looked it up. Referring to the Eastern Monarch, here’s what I found on a website called Monarch Joint Venture:

The first generation offspring from the overwintering population continue the journey from the southern U.S. to recolonize the eastern breeding grounds, migrating north through the central latitudes in approximately late April through May.

Love

Love is both positive emotions and larger than the self. We typically think in western culture of emotions as belonging to a person – being confined to one person’s brain, mind or skin. Here I’m arguing that actually people co-experience emotions, especially positive ones, and when they do, that’s when they are reminded in an experiential way that they are part of something larger than themselves, that they share a human connection, whether it’s with a person they know well or a stranger. It’s where we experience our common humanity. –  “Love 2.0:” a conversation with Barbara Fredrickson

Portfolio

Colors

Of course, I love all the colors of Spring.

crocuses
crocuses

I love all the colors of all the spring flowers, flowering trees, and flowering shrubs.

Spring Almost in View
daffodils

I especially like the yellow, as in daffodils and forsythia. It’s so cheery!

Spring Is Almost Here

But my top favorite spring color is that green of newly blossomed trees. You must savor it, because it changes so quickly!

Smells

The fragrances of paperwhites, hyacinths, lilacs.

Spring Is Almost Here
Fresh Air

The smell of good fresh air.

Spring Is Almost Here
The grass smells good

The smell of grass.

Sounds

Spring And The Birds Were Singing
Moonlight Melodie

Published on Mar 9, 2013
Frühling und die Vögel singen
Gedicht /Poem deutsch / englisch
Leise zieht durch mein Gemüt
Gently trough my mine
Liebliches Geläute.
Blade Bells
Klinge kleines Frühlingslied,
Blade little Spring Song
Kling hinaus ins Weite.
Sounding out into the Distance.
Kling hinaus bis an das Haus
Sounding out uo to the house.
Wo die Blumen sprießen
Where the Flowers sprout,
Wenn du eine Rose schaust.
If you see a Rose,
Sag ich lass sie grüssen.
Say let me greeting them.
( Heinrich Heine )

Music: “Et les oiseaux chantaient” by Chateau Pop (Google Play • iTunes • AmazonMP3 • eMusic)

Spring Peeper Frogs – CTnaturalist Online
Spring peepers are the smallest frog in Connecticut.
Each spring choruses of the males calls are heard emanating from vernal pools.
Video by Will Michael from CTnaturalist TV

Music

Poems
Lines Written in Early Spring

BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (Pearson, 2006)

For more spring poems, visit Spring Poems by The Editors

Just a Bit Longer

Spring Almost in View
Is this the spring you promised me?

Do yourself a favor, and try the positivity exercise for yourself!

Most people who begin this type of project are so pleased with the result that they want to do more! You can work on a portfolio over whatever time period you like. And, of course, you can build as many as you like!

Interested in the science behind this? See Positive Emotions Trigger Upward Spirals Toward Emotional Well-Being

5 Comments on “Spring Is Almost Here

  1. Carol, it sounds like a lovely class your are studying. We don’t have as much snow as you do in New England, but we have our share and have the extreme cold temps so I’m getting ready for spring through starting some plants indoors, which has a positive effect for me.

    I tried many times to escape the winters in my life by moving away the last time to the Arizona desert. it’s very true that we can’t appreciate the changing seasons when we have none. Sure it was nice to see the sun nearly every day but it became monotonous to have nice weather and know for months on end nothing would be different from one day to the next. One of the things I missed terribly in Arizona was the rain and the fresh air after a good storm.

    As for my childhood, one of my best memories was hiding under our weeping willow tree with a book and wild strawberries growing around me to snack on.

    1. Hello Lois,
      The class is great! I am enjoying it tremendously!
      I can picture you there under the weeping willow!
      I love weeping willows,and they are among the first trees to show spring green.

      Wishing you well, Carol

  2. Carol, I love spring and I love this exercise! Your photos show a few of the things I associate with spring: daffodils, blossoming trees and fresh air. Also when I did the exercise, I pictured bright light blue skies with very white clouds. And I thought of my middle school years when I experienced spring fever so strongly that I can still recall the feeling. Thanks for reminding me that I’m overdue to rewatch Groundhog Day!

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