Positive Psychology has been defined as:
the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life
– Seligman and Cziksebtmihalyi (2000)
and more simply put by Christopher Peterson (2008) it’s
the scientific study of what makes life most worth living
Those who practice positive psychology will be familiar with holding a positive attitude, particularly in the areas of one’s life which are of the most importance. Researchers have found that one of the primary concerns in this type of psychology is ‘living the good life’. This would mean that focusing on the areas in a person’s life which they hold as having the highest value. In turn, focusing on these areas, there is a more general sense of well-being and a more fulfilling life. Something important to remember here is the role of having a positive attitude.
For those of you familiar with Life Coaching, this way of thinking looks very similar to the focus on ‘balance’ ‘values’ and ‘areas of importance’ you will remember in coaching sessions. Positive Psychology holds a very important role in the coaching practice. As well as looking at the areas that hold the highest value to an individual, the way of overcoming blocks in achieving the desired outcome is done so with a positive attitude. And like positive psychology focuses on particular areas important to the individual to achieve their desired life, so does life coaching.
The outcome for everyone will depend entirely on what values a person holds important. For one person having a large, busy social circle will hold a great deal of importance, as well as their well-being and personal development. On the opposite side, another person will be very content will a small social circle while their main focus is on their career. The wonderful thing about people is we are all completely different and so too must be our approaches to achieving a ‘life most worth living’.
Practicing a positive attitude in life can be sometimes daunting but it’s very do-able. Approaching situations with a positive attitude can make the journey both more enjoyable and even if the outcome isn’t what you hoped for them in the first place, a positive attitude will give you the endurance to either go at the situation again or try an alternative approach.
How do you consistently be positive? With a lot of practice. Obviously, it’s not 100% of the time. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay positive, and also, sometimes it’s not appropriate or realistic to be. Yet, my experience has been that by practicing a positive attitude in achieving goals and living in every-day life, life is more enjoyable. Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on the positives. With this mind, I also encourage people to go easy on yourself when you’re finding it difficult to be positive. Some days it’s easier than others. Each day is a new day so if you find you weren’t as positive as you could have been one day, tomorrow is a chance to start fresh again.
Here are some simple tips to practice in your daily life:
- At the beginning of each day, make a list (with a pen or in your mind) of all the things in your life that you’re grateful for. This is one that I really love. A Gratitude List. Focusing on all the things in your life you have to be grateful can open our eyes in many different ways. It puts us straight into the positive mind set and it’s very difficult to think negatively when you’re there.
- Try to find a positive in any given situation. E.g. You didn’t achieve the exam result you wanted BUT you know more know about that topic in the exam than you did when you started. Next time, you will learn even more.
- Get rid of negative self-talk. Turn the negative words into positive ones. E.g. I should have known that this was never going to work out becomes I have learned from this situation that this approach or situation wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. Now, I will feel grateful for what I have learned and bring it forward with me.
- Surround yourself with people who encourage, support and GIVE you energy. Notice the people who you are around and how you feel when you’re around them. Do those people encourage and support you? Or are the ‘energy vampires’? Try to avoid the Negative Nellies in your life. Replace them with people who will nurture you and allow you to reciprocate the same.
- Try to find humour or a light-heartedness in difficult situations
Make a funny story out of something that could usually be seen in a negative light. You’ll find that by taking control of the situation, the burden of the difficulty is lifted somewhat.
- Practice Mindfulness
How do you this you might ask? Simple. BE PRESENT. Just focus on the moments you have. Focus on them, appreciate them, use your positive mindset.
Start today and think about the positivity in your life. Are you naturally a positive thinker or could you do with practicing to be more positive? Share your thoughts on positive thinking and positive psychology below.