Optimisation is a term that we use pretty extensively at Spartans. We aim to optimise the health and well-being of our members. We take optimisation very seriously, aiming to optimise physical and mental well-being. We have programmes that align with our goal of optimisation.
However, we have recently been asked: “what do we mean when we refer to optimisation? What is our definition of optimisation, and how does it avoid becoming an endless quest for perfection?”
At Spartans, we define optimisation as follows: When the external reality matches the individual’s internal subjective experience and goals“. I recognise that this definition can seem a bit of a mouthful, so let me unbundle the definition’s various components and make the Spartans definition of optimisation clear.
The starting point for understanding optimisation is to understand the individual. Each of our members has their own goals and areas they want to improve. Likewise, given the right tools, individuals can define for themselves when they are taking steps toward their optimal self and when they are making improvements to their internal and external well-being. So optimisation is individualised.
The second point is the link to external reality. Just as individuals will imagine their ideal future, optimisation aligns with that ideal future and external reality. In short, our goal is not that one imagines their optimal life but that their optimal life becomes a reality with the help of Spartans; when the external reality matches a person’s subjective goals, one can be said to be in a state of optimisation.
To better understand the model, we can graph the core parameters of optimisation. We can also look at how the break between subjective experience and reality can lead to sub-optimal alternative ways of being.
The graph has two axes corresponding to the two optimisation parameters used at Spartans. Subjective well-being is how a person feels about themselves and their emotional, mental and physical well-being. The other graph is their external reality which, as discussed, is their alignment between their hoped-for and experienced life.
At the bottom of the graph, we have low levels of subjective well-being and poor external congruence. In psychology, people in this block are said to be experiencing depressive realism. The theory of depressive realism was initially brought forth by Alloy and Abramson (1979), who noted that depressed people might often see the world more accurately. The subjective experience matches the external reality.’
Next, we have those whose external reality remains negative, but their subjective well-being remains positive. Many people negotiate life by activating these positive illusions (Taylor & Brown, 1988). While maintaining positive illusions is certainly better than being in a negative emotional state, the ultimate goal is that a change in thinking patterns matches changes in external reality.
The next block in the graph is those with a favourable external reality but who remain in a negative subjective state. These are people significantly helped by boxing as the physical fitness component of boxing can help them to experience more internal positive states and ultimately have more gratitude for the life that they are experiencing.
Optimisation, the goal Spartans has for its members, is when a positive emotional state matches a positive external reality (Englert, 1997; Englert, 2016). Spartans’ goal is optimal performance through our various boxing programs and Spartans Mind. When the subjective experience and external reality are both positive, a person is on the road to optimisation.
We at Spartans recognise that people will move between the various categories in the optimisation matrix. Life throws curve balls, changing our external reality. We may experience changes in subjective well-being as we progress through life. We may experience optimisation only to set new goals and start the growth process again.
Spartans is with our members for the journey with apps and programmes that help throughout the optimisation process. We believe that boxing is a lifestyle that aids physical and mental health, and we are privileged to partner with our members on their journey toward optimal mental health.
What is optimisation: References
Alloy, L.B.; Abramson, L.Y. (1979). “Judgment of contingency in depressed and nondepressed students:
Sadder but wiser?”. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 108 (4): 441–485. doi:10.1037/0096-3418.104.22.1681. PMID 528910.
Englert, P. (1997). Eliminating the negative in positive illusions: A blueprint
for the maintenance of mental health during unemployment and redundancy. In P. Howland (Ed.). Voices in Continuum (pg. 115-126). Victoria Postgraduate Association: New Zealand.
Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: a social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 103(2), 193.