“…and our worst agonies come to an end one day. One morning, after many dark nights of despair, an irrepressible longing to live will announce to us that fact that all is finished and that suffering has no more meaning than happiness.”
Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
I came from a place where psychology was the solution – it was never the answer. Go on and get about with your life, and if somehow the wheels fall off and you end up in a spiritual drought of depression strikes or you lose your sanity – then we call in psychology as a way to fix the broken. Psychology as solution.
- – It’s an approach that assumes there is something wrong or in need of being fixed – which is not where we are coming from with Positive Psychology.
- – In common with positive psychology is the understanding that positíve psychology strategies, tools and exercises can improve your experience.
Positive Psychology is about promoting well being, wholeness and clarity as a way forward from good or optimum health towards flourishing and meaningful happiness.
It’s the search for meaning, for pleasure, for deeper engagement, for positive lasting relationships and satisfying accomplishment.
Positive Psychology is nothing to do with a “grin and bear it” mentality – instead, it is about embracing a holistic view of mental health and personal development as a way of taking responsibility for our mental state. By shifting the focus from a “wait until it breaks” approach and instead adopting a “let’s see how we can maintain and even make this better” approach – you can have a more complete life experience.
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Here are some of the techniques used in positive psychology:
- Focus on your strengths and virtues. This helps you identify and build on your unique strong points.
Too much of psychology and psychotherapy is lost in the swirling mist of your own personal history. And by acknowledging the entrenched weight of your own personal history and story, you make it even more embedded. Positive psychology is all about accepting where you are at – flaws and all, and moving forward with pinpoint actions for growth.
- Consider gratitude. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you receive, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, you acknowledge the goodness in your life.
It is scientifically proven that you cannot simultaneously hold thoughts of anger and gratitude. Putting your mind into a state of gratitude, or gratefulness, of grace, puts your energy level at the opposite end of anger, hostility, resentment and bitterness. When you look up from being angry, and notice the beautiful surroundings, or the remarkable opportunity that has you in your current situation, the anger melts away. Gratitude is an exercise in re-direction that works and one of the most basic concepts behind positive psychology.
- Savour pleasure. Savoring is placing your attention on pleasure as it occurs, consciously enjoying the experience as it unfolds. This is in stark contrast to constantly reaching for the next, better thing to come along — a route to chronic discontentment.
Remember placing a chocolate in your mouth and before you have swallowed it, you find yourself reaching out to grab the next one and then the whole box of chocolates? It’s about savouring the moment – a mindfulness technique to actually let go of all distractions and fully immerse in the present moment. It works for moments of extreme pain as much as it does for sheer delight. As you go towards your pain/ecstasy point, being able to step back in your minds eye and simply observe the pain/ecstasy without attachment is a powerful way to disconnect your reaction from the moment. The goodness or badness of the moment is something you can see as a choice, to go into it further or to pull back from it to make it milder.
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- Go with the flow. Have you ever been so immersed in what you were doing that all distractions and background chatter just fell away? This state of intense absorption is called “flow.” Creating opportunities for more flow experiences can be a potent route to increased happiness.
Identifying your core needs and working on them in alignment with your natural gifts increases the likelihood of entering the flow state. Once you are in the flow state time melts away, you connect with your potential and the universe literally unfolds at your command. This is where you can experience the Law of Attraction and the abundance it brings. It’s about working with your strengths and letting go and not resisting anything as you keep going forward.
- Be aware of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment — and accepting it without judgment.
Mindfulness is an everyday discipline of increased awareness. By bringing your full attention to the task at hand and not losing your focus to the past or your future plans, you cn truly and fully experience the calmness and clarity of the moment. Mindfulness approaches a meditative state as you sweep or brush your teeth with a deliberate awareness of the whole absorbing process. It’s quite mind blowing on your first few attempts.
Abraham Maslow “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”
- Practice self-compassion. This means not beating yourself up when you suffer, fail or feel inadequate.
You are enough. Regardless of your past experiences, you are meant to be at the place you are at right now. Consciously accepting yourself in your entirety – with your flaws and glaring weaknesses – and quietly and humbly just sitting with yourself as a complete soul suffering the human condition is a transformative experience. There is no place you would rather be, there is no alternative life that you should be living – this is it and it is absolute and final. And we graciously and humbly accept this and ourselves this moment.
- Try for the meaningful life. Lasting happiness requires that you focus on concerns outside of yourself and feel that your life has purpose. Only you know what gives your life meaning.
Offering service outside of yourself is the quickest route to feeling appreciated, valued and worthy. Balancing your own need for this with another’s genuine acceptance makes the whole journey meaningful and powerful. Ultimately, your life has nothing to do with you – and everything to do with those whom you touch, and the way in which you do this. Finding meaning in this crazy beautiful world is what makes your journey worth reflecting on and your story worth sharing.