Points of Reference: Revisiting Positivity

Two positive psychology concepts seemed newly relevant today.

I’d learned these ideas years ago, but re-discovered them today. They are helping me to keep perspective, and remember why I want to embrace the positive.

Shane Lopez’ Hope Maps

I like psychologist and hope researcher Shane Lopez’ exercise to envision goals, pathways, and obstacles. It’s a way to visualize your response to obstacles and help your future self stay motivated.

You can find a description of Shane Lopez’ Hope Maps exercise in this article.

(I’ve mentioned it on my blog before in “Points of Reference: Resistance Day 16: Cakes, Spells, Dance, and Multi-Centeredness.”)

Today, when I searched for the link on his website, I was saddened to learn that Lopez passed away in 2016. I feel very fortunate to have attended his session at a positive psychology conference in 2011 (thanks to the Jerome Travel and Study Grant, a great resource for NYC and MN-based artists). In Lopez’ honor, I made a hope map today.

[I also learned that Lopez published a book in 2014, called Making Hope Happen. In a little poetical reflection, that is the same year I created the make things (happen) project.]

Lopez’ understanding of hope is concrete and action-oriented. I liked his emphasis on agency, as I always feel better about a situation when I start to take action.

Christine Wong Yap, Positive Signs #43 (inspired by Shane Lopez), 2011, glitter pen on gridded vellum, 8.5 × 11 in

Christine Wong Yap, Positive Signs #43 (inspired by Shane Lopez), 2011, glitter pen on gridded vellum, 8.5 × 11 in

David J. Pollay’s Law of The Garbage Truck

I recently came across this quote:

Thinking is hard. That’s why most people judge.

It’s got a nice ring, but turns out to be a misquote of Carl Jung:

Thinking is difficult. Therefore, let the herd pronounce judgement.

The irony of studying positive psychology and making art about positive affect is that I often fall short in my daily life. I can feel my attention get more unfocused by digital media. Constantly making knee-jerk reactions (scroll, scroll, like, scroll, scroll) makes me more judgy, low, and complainy.

I think, in some contexts, I’ve turned into a garbage truck. I don’t want to be that person, who dumps on people’s pleasant mornings with negativity. So I’m grateful that I read David J. Pollay’s book, and am reminded of the principles in this helpful poster. (Coincidentally, I bought Pollay’s book at the same positive psychology conference in 2011.)


David J. Pollay, The Law of the Garbage Truck.

David J. Pollay, The Law of the Garbage Truck. // Source:


It’s been seven years since learning of these psychologists’ work. I’ve always loved the idea that writing and art practice are forms of thinking. Today they are also forms for remembering.