Positive Deviance and Mint

Diana Kurniawan
4 min readApr 4, 2018


Published in the Family and Parenting Section in 2010 by Examiner.com

Can a human being be trained to achieve a goal under the most challenging environment? Through “Positive Deviance (PD),” victims of violence can train to pick up positive habits to help with the healing process. Positive Deviance is a human behavior or social change in the community, through uncommon but successful strategies to find better solutions despite challenges in the environment.

The term Positive Deviance began from a Public Health study in 1990 by Jerry and Monique Sternin through their work with Save the Children organization to find alternative solutions against malnutrition in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government was aware of the study and told the Sternins that they had only six months to make a difference. Without staff support, The Sternins organized local Vietnamese mothers to weigh babies in small villages, to find if there were well-nourished children, despite the poverty.

There were, in fact, well-nourished children in the village areas that the Sternins called ‘bright spots,’ whose parents fed their babies sweet potatoes greens, small shrimps and crabs for four times a day in smaller amounts. These bright spots children weighed more, and the Sternins later designed cooking groups based on the bright spots methods, to teach the local mothers to better nourish their children. Six months later, 65 percent of the children in the small Vietnamese villages were better nourished and Emory University School of Public Health later found, the children who were not born when the Sternins were there, were also well nourished as the bright spots children.

Let’s take us back to the problem with healing from violence for victims of trauma in conjunction with the new information of the Sternin study. The healing process is a progressive effort that can almost feel miraculous when the feeling of recovery is achieved, even for a short moment. The most difficult part of healing is the day to day challenges from the environment that victims of violence have in life. Not everyone is privileged to live in a good neighborhood, or have a positive work environment, and the small triggers from difficulties in life from our surroundings affect the healing progress.

Deviant Mint for your health behavior change

Why not try a small attempt in light of the Sternin study, for a modicum of health behavior change? Buy some mint, which you can purchase at the grocery store, and place them in a small satchet to make small scented pouches that you can fit inside your pocket. Throughout everyday starting from now, take four small breaks from anything in life. Whether you are a mother, a working professional, or a teen in high school, take four short breaks, which can last from five to ten minutes each.

Smell the satchet you have made with mint, and just breathe in and out until you finish your breaks. Do this in a quiet area, so you can close your eyes and enjoy the meditation process. If you need to cry, do so, and release all the tension. Think: “I AM A BRIGHT SPOT,” for being bright to use this strategy, “NO FEAR,” for not being scared of the rough times, and “NO DOUBT,” because you are exceptionally amazing for trying to help yourself through the process of recovery and there is no doubt that you will heal from the trauma. This is a small aromatherapy relaxation technique that will help relax the muscles and stresses you might have throughout the day.

This is a very simple process, which will provide a natural progression for you to take small steps throughout the day to heal and relax. With victims of violence, it is very difficult to see healing and relaxation, especially in a stressful environment. The mint won’t be costly, and they are available in grocery stores, or if you cannot find mint, substitute them with lavender, jasmine tea or any soothing scents, that can ease the tension throughout the day. What makes the difference is the unnoticeable natural progression towards healing that is subtle that will produce the most lasting effect.

With time, the symptoms that are difficult to control can subside with taking small relaxation breaks, to help yourself gain some peace and think more clearly. Remember to reward yourself as soon as you realize that this behavior becomes a habit. This means, you can change anything negative within yourself, with assurance that your behavior and thought process will change in the future.

“Small doses of hope, joy and faith lead to HUGE changes” ~ Harold Kushner

To better understand Positive Deviance, see link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Deviance

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Diana Kurniawan

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