Discussion of mental health often centres around the negative: disordered thinking, behaviour and feeling. While it’s important to deal with these issues, people are often left thinking “there must be more to life!” And there is.
This is where positive psychology comes in.
Positive psychology, as its name suggests, focuses on adding positivity to life. It studies and promotes human flourishing, thriving, personal growth and optimal functioning! Everybody can benefit from positive psychology. And when you bring some positive vibes into your life, the negative stuff will naturally weaken its grip.
Positive Psychology seeks to investigate what people do well in life, that is, how they adapt in creative ways and feel good about life. It is the psychology of PERMA, or:
- Positive emotions, such as joy or love.
- Positive engagement in life and activities.
- Positive relationships.
- Meaning in life.
- Positive accomplishment.
Positive Psychology is full of wonderful ideas, including working with strengths, being creative and practising gratitude, as these all foster greater wellbeing in life. So, without further ado here are:
Dr Cate’s 10 tips to a more positive you!
1. Know yourself
What are your strengths? Are they being kind or creative, humours or humble, quick thinking or resilient? Recognising your strengths and using them helps you to be resilient and to feel more confident in yourself.
2. Know your values and passions
What is important to you in life? Living a life consistent with your values is more meaningful, and helps you to get in touch with your authentic self. Following your passions can bring you joy and satisfaction. Creativity can foster positivity too.
3. Connect with people
Good social support can act as a buffer against stress, and provide enjoyment and fun. Social supports are key to resilience and positivity. Focus on friends, family and community.
4. Be in the moment
Mindfulness refers to paying attention in the present moment. When we are mindful we feel relaxed and are less likely to worry about the past or the future. Being mindful helps you savour each moment too. Being in nature is a great way of tapping into mindfulness, plus it is relaxing.
5. Have a laugh!
Use humour regularly e.g. have a joke and a laugh, watch a funny movie, and try to see the funny side of a situation. Humour helps us relax and feel more positive. Even a smile has an effect!
6. Take care of yourself
Eat healthy foods, have good sleeps and take regular exercise. Do you need supplements, a holiday or a massage? All of these can enhance your wellbeing.
7. Think optimistically
Most people have unhelpful thinking traps such as ‘black and white’ thinking; for example “If one person is disapproving, then everyone disapproves of me.” It is important to learn to come up with more helpful thoughts such as “Many people like and approve of me, it is natural that not everyone will.” Sometimes we also need to reframe events perceived as negative into opportunities e.g. for learning. These strategies teach us to be flexible in our thinking and more positive in our outlook.
8. Foster hope and acceptance
We all benefit from hope as it helps us reach our goals in life. We also need to learn acceptance that sometimes things don’t go to plan or feel uncomfortable. Sometimes it is what it is!
9. Appreciate others and the world
There are always things to be grateful for. Expressing gratitude regularly helps you to feel more positive and to appreciate and connect with others. It also helps if you to feel good about yourself.
10. Be kind to yourself
It is important to be kind and encouraging to yourself – be as understanding to yourself as you would others! And don’t be overly critical of yourself – we all mess up sometimes.
We hope these tips have inspired you to sprinkle some seeds of positivity on your life!
Share your thoughts on positive psychology in the comments, we’d love to hear them.
Authors: Dr Cate Howell & Greta Barrett
Dr Cate further discusses positive psychology in chapter 3 of her book, “Listening, Learning, Caring and Counselling”, set to be released next year.
You can also learn more about being kind to yourself in the self-compassion e-book available on this website.
And the book ‘Flourish’, by Martin Seligman is highly recommended.
PS. Dr Cate would like to say thank you to Greta Barrett for helping with this blog, and there will be a few more she helps with in the future!