3 Ways to Bring Positive Psychology into Your Life
Most often when people come into therapy it’s because they want to be less depressed, less anxious, or maybe learn to have better relationships, along with a myriad of other reasons. Positive Psychology takes a different spin on how therapy and mental illness is viewed. Historically, research has been focused on “mental illness.” Positive Psychology focuses on “mental health” and wellness. It focuses on your strengths, rather than on your weakness. According to Martin Seligman http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/martin-seligman-psychology/, it is the scientific study of strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The focus of the field is for people to cultivate meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Changing Your Perceptions
When you’re a little kid, you most likely looked at the world through rose colored glasses. Everything was right with the world, you were smiling and laughing with your friends, and playing without a care in the world. As you started to grow up and get into your teens, you started encountering more challenges with friends, school, and your environment. This changed that “rose colored glasses” view of life. The more you think positively, the more you are training our brain to notice positive and happy things, events, and everything you come in contact with. This is not to say that you will never experience anything negative. Part of life is taking the good with the bad. The key here is that you are changing your perception, and focusing on the positive. Therefore, when you do encounter a negative experience, you will be more resilient and able to look at even the smallest of positive or good in that situation.
Research http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude shows that when you express gratitude on a regular basis, your level of happiness will increase by 25% have shown that expressing gratitude can increase your level of happiness. You can do this several ways:
- Journal three things you are grateful for daily
- Express your gratitude to someone in your life on a daily basis
- Do a random act of kindness
None of those things cost money, but the cost they will come at is helping you achieve a more positive outlook, and that “feel good” feeling.
Stay In The Present Moment
All too often we are thinking of what we need to do tomorrow, worrying about how we can fit something into our busy schedules, or focusing on the many things or events we have coming up. The more you can remain in the present, and be mindful, the more you will increase your level of happiness, and decrease your stress and worry. Staying present is not always easy, but if you take some time every day to engage in some form of mindfulness, this becomes easier as time goes on. Mindfulness can come in many different forms.
- Engaging in meditation
- Mindful eating
- Paying attention to each bite of food you are taking and the different tastes and sensations you experience
- Walking or hiking
Mindfulness can be experienced in many ways. Above are just some of the ways you might want to try.
Norine Vander Hooven www.norinevanderhooven.com is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Westlake Village, California, and has been in practice for 30 years. Norine views the decision to enter therapy as displaying strength and courage. Norine specializes in suicide prevention, depression, anxiety, mindfulness, and life transitions. Norine is also EMDR trained and uses this to work with people with PTSD and severe anxiety. Norine works with youth, adolescents, adults, and families.