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Positive Psychology: Ways We Can Help Ourselves And Others

POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY WAS INTRODUCED EARLY THIS CENTUARY (2000 and 2005) AND SOME OF IT'S PRINCIPLES CAN BE PRACTICED PERSONALLY - YOU WOULD NOT NEED A PSYCHOLOGIST. IN SOME RESPECTS, THIS KIND OF PRACTICE IS HEALTHIER THAN OTHERS, IF YOU DON'T OVER-DO IT (like most things). IT CERTAINLY HAS IT'S MERITS, YOU WILL SEE IN THIS POST. THESE DAYS, YOU CAN EVEN PRACTICE SOME BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION TECHNIQUES WITHOUT THE NEED FOR A THERAPIST. SOME PSYCHOLOGISTS WRITE BOOKS AND VIDEOS SHOWING YOU HOW TO APPLY THE TECHNIQUES FOR YOURSELVES. THEY'RE GOOD FOR MAKING AND BREAKING HABITS. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY IS INTERESTING TOO. FOR NOW, LET'S SEE WHAT POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY HAS TO OFFER, HEY?

WHAT IS POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

Traditionally in psychology, the focus has been on identifying and treating mental health problems such as depression. This is critically important for those facing mental illness however, it provides an incomplete picture of mental health. Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology that shifts the focus from what is clinically wrong, to the promotion of wellbeing and the creation of a satisfying life filled with meaning, pleasure, engagement, positive relationships and accomplishment.

Positive psychology is not about putting on a happy face all the time. Life can be hard and disappointments and challenges are inevitable. However, scientific research has shown that there are some strategies and skills that allow people to navigate the challenges of life more effectively and enjoy life despite the upsets.

Practical strategies to increase your psychological wellbeing

Enhancing pleasure:

Savouring is the awareness of pleasure and of giving deliberate conscious attention to the experience of pleasure. Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff of Loyola University have identified five techniques that promote savouring:

Sharing with others:

seek out others to share the experience and tell others how much you value the moment. This is the single strongest predictor of the level of pleasure.

Memory building:

take mental photographs, or even a physical souvenir of the event, and reminisce about it later with others.

Self-congratulation:

don’t be afraid of pride; tell yourself how well you did and remember how long you have waited for this to happen.

Sharpening perception:

focus on certain elements and block out others, like closing your eyes and listening to the music.

Absorption:

allow yourself to become totally immersed and try not to think, just sense.

KEEPING HEALTH IN MIND

Avoid forming habits.

Rapidly repeated indulgence in the same pleasure does not work. Neurons are wired to respond to novel events, and not to fire if the events do not provide new information. Seek out a variety of experiences and spread out pleasurable events over time. Surprise yourself or others with small presents of pleasure

Engagement Mindfulness:

Mindlessness pervades much of human activity. We act and interact automatically, without much thinking. Mindful attention to the present moment can be developed through meditation and mindfulness based therapies. Through mindfulness we can focus our perspective and sharpen our experience of the present moment.

Nurture relationships:

Your income level has a surprisingly small effect on your psychological well-being. The most fundamental finding from positive psychology is that strong personal relationships have the greatest impact on your satisfaction with life. Make sure that you invest time and energy in your friends and family.

Identify and use your strengths:

Think about your personal strengths and how you might use them in your everyday life. Are you a leader, playful, fair, curious or original? Do you have a good sense of perspective? Do you love learning? Are you genuine? Are you good at teamwork?

Seek out ‘flow’ experiences:

Through his research, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi sought to understand how people felt when they most enjoyed themselves and why. He developed the concept of ‘flow’ which describes a state of joy, creativity and total involvement. Problems seem to disappear and there is a feeling of transcendence. ‘Flow’ is the way people describe their state of mind when they are doing something for its own sake. Some activities consistently produced ‘flow’ such as sports, games, art and hobbies. Csikszentmihalyi has identified the ingredients to creating these optimal experiences:

• the task is challenging and requires skill

• we concentrate

• there are clear goals

• we get immediate feedback

• we have deep, effortless involvement

• there is a sense of control

• our sense of self vanishes

• time stops

Csikszentmihalyi says work and family life can provide important opportunities for ‘flow’. When people were in ‘flow’, either at work or in leisure, they reported a much more positive experience. When challenges and skills were both high, people felt happier, more cheerful, stronger and more active. They concentrated more, felt more creative and satisfied.

FIND MEANING

Keep a gratitude diary:

Take the time each day to write down three things that went well and why. This causes psychological well-being levels to increase in a lasting way.

Thank a mentor:

Write a letter of thanks to someone to who you owe a debt of gratitude such as a teacher or grandparent. Then visit the person and read the letter to them. People who do this are measurably happier for more than a month.

Learn to forgive:

Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to a person who has wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination.

Weigh up your life:

Take time out occasionally to consider how you are going in the major facets of your life such as family, work, finances, health and play. Reflect on the progress you are making in working towards your major life goals. Make changes in your life to match your priorities.

Perform small acts of kindness:

Performing five kind acts a week, especially all in one day, creates a measurable boost to levels of psychological well-being. Giving not only makes you feel good about yourself, it enhances your connection with others and can bring you positive feedback from others.

Source HERE

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