Using Positive Psychology to improve your life (Continued from last week)
The field of positive psychology, sometimes referred to as the science of flourishing, uses the same scientific rigour that has been applied to studying what’s wrong with people and how to fix them, to understanding the breadth of human potential. In short, instead of just fixing what’s wrong, it also focuses on building what’s right in the person’s life. The following are tips on how to use positive psychological principles to flourish in your life:
1) Manifest intention
Write down your intention before starting your day. This will help you to be positive and keep going when you hit setbacks. You will have your mind work for you, not against you. Setting your intention in the morning for the day will significantly increase your everyday happiness.
Positive Psychology is the science of happiness. Whereas Psychology looks at what is wrong with you, the mental illness and unhappiness, Positive Psychology focuses on enhancing your everyday life.
2) Aim to flourish:
There are four stages of mental health, from low to high: mental illness, languishing, moderate mental health (most people) and flourishing. Positive psychology aims to move people from moderate mental health to flourishing. To lift yourself to the highest level – flourishing – you need to consider the following five areas in your life:
Positive emotions: Positive emotions open up your brain for creative thinking. Your mind is 39 percent more productive when set in ‘positive’ mode. Every daily choice you make you can choose to see the ‘positive’ side or the ‘negative’ side of things.
Engagement in creativity: Creativity can be something as simple as cooking a wonderful meal for your family, or something more complex. It’s important to feel present in the moment and be able to concentrate in a creative process.
Relationships: Nurture positive supportive relationships and build boundaries towards people who don’t contribute positively to your journey.
Meaning and purpose: Doing work where you feel you are making a difference or where you can help others can significantly increase your happiness.
Accomplishment and progress: We need a sense of accomplishment to feel happy. It is better to link it to enjoying the everyday progress of your actions than big goals. The sign posts keep moving, so if you are very attached to one goal, such as affording to buy a big house, once you get there it is not enough as there are always more material things you could have. Focus on celebrating small steps and enjoying what you can learn from your work.
3) Create a ‘Done’ list
Write down all the things you’ve completed that day before going to bed. It creates a sense of accomplishment and gratitude in self. It can boost your self confidence and feeling that you are enough. If you only keep looking at your ‘to-do’ list you may always feel that you are lacking and falling behind. It’s important to celebrate small steps and be happy about the progress rather than the end results. And as I always say… Enjoy the journey!
4) Only 10 percent of our happiness is based on our circumstances:
Many people focus on outside circumstances as the source of their unhappiness, but often our circumstances are not in our control. Focus on the things you can control to feel happier every day.
5) Change your mindset:
There are two types of mindsets: fixed mindset and growth mindset. If you have a fixed mindset you tend to strive for goals and focus on outcomes, you are defensive about your views and don’t want to hear any criticism or comments about your work. For a person with a growth mindset, life is a journey. You accept both positive and negative feelings and take failure or criticism as a source of learning.
6) Make your fears visible:
We must face our fears in order to reduce its power. As soon as you make the source of your fear visible to yourself it loses its grip in you. Try this three step approach:
1) Name it, 2) Claim it, 3) Go through it
For instance, if you are afraid of failure, try to allow yourself 80 percent success rate instead of going for 100 percent. Remember that perfection kills progress!
7) Feel the abundance in your life:
What does abundance mean to you? More money, more freedom, more happiness? Better health? More creativity? Perhaps all of the above!
It’s important to feel you have a lot (even if you don’t have that much), rather than be always lacking. A good way to do this is to be thankful of the ‘amount’ you have right now (money, relationships, happiness, health etc.) and to visualize the abundance you’d like to have in the future. Set radical goals and create a visual board to manifest it!
8) Be authentic:
One reason why being authentic matters is that if you develop a gap between your authentic self and the way you express yourself outside and the choices you make, you are bound to become emotionally unstable. So be true to yourself.
9) Understand your five core strengths:
The better you know yourself, the more aligned you can be with your work and your goals every day. It’s easier to stay on your chosen path when you know you are putting all your core strengths into good use.
(Identify your core strengths and seek to put at least one to use each day).
10) Keep going when times are tough:
We are all tested at times so it’s good to learn what you can do to bring yourself back up. When you hit a setback try to create positive emotions and write down what you are grateful for. These actions will help immediately and you are more likely to find the persistence to carry on.