Positive Psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology which moves away from more traditional models of pathology (mental illness) and moves toward the promotion of personal growth and wellbeing (mental health).
It’s important to note upfront that the Positive Psychology approach is not simply about “putting on a happy face” all of the time. There is acknowledgement in Positive Psychology that it is normal for all of us to experience challenging times, disappointments and hardship at different nodal points over the course of our lifetime.
What recent scientific research shows, is that there are certain strategies and skills that people can implement to help them deal with these difficulties more effectively and still enjoy life.
Here are 5 positive psychology strategies to try and put into practice this week:
Prioritise close relationships
Your income has a surprisingly small impact on your experience of happiness. The most fundamental finding in positive psychology is that people who have strong relationships tend to be more satisfied. A large network of friends does not seem to matter as much as it does to spend quality time with those who you really care for the most. Prioritise time with one or two of your friends who you care about and enjoy the company of. Share your personal feelings with them. Offer support to your friends when they need it.
People who care for others consistently seem to be happier and this is especially true for older individuals. This can occur through various altruistic activities such as volunteering, caring for a peer or a colleague during a tough time, or perhaps reaching out to a stranger who appears to be in need, for example. Set yourself a goal of performing a random act of kindness each day for a week. This is shown to create a measurable boost in your level of personal wellbeing.
Find your “flow”
The experience of flow comes about when we are engaged in an activity that is challenging but also matches our skill set. Have you ever been engaged in an activity where you are completely absorbed and lose all track of time? This might have happened for you when you were playing a musical instrument, doing gardening, completing woodwork or were perhaps creating a piece of artwork. Try to prioritise an activity which you think might allow you to experience flow before the end of the week.
Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has, as opposed to what one wants. This can be a tricky stance to take, particularly given our consumer driven society which has an emphasis on what one doesn’t yet have and wants in the future. Get a piece of paper and write down as many things you can think of that you are grateful for. Continue to add a new item to this each day for a week.
Discover your strengths
Studies by famous Psychologist Martin Seligman show that the happiest people are those that have identified and use their strengths in various areas of their lives. Think about a time in your life when you believe you were at your personal best. What was it that you were doing and what personal qualities or attributes were you using at the time? Research shows that you are likely to be happier when your personal strengths are put to use in various aspects of your life such as in your employment, relationships and hobbies.
We all have strengths but sometimes we need a little help identifying them, if you are looking for an improvement in your overall well being, please feel free to make contact with our practice to talk about making an appointment with one of our qualified practitioners.
Sarah Davies, Psychologist
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