PDX.edu REALMS OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

REALMS OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

Positive psychology is founded on the idea that people want to lead meaningful lives by living up to the best versions of themselves in order to strengthen the life they live.  This field is important because through its implementation, individuals and communities are able to prosper, thus contributing to a more satisfactory life. This can be attained through the incorporation of the following factors:

SELF-ACCEPTANCE

When individuals are satisfied and happy with themselves, self-acceptance is present. This helps us recognize our weaknesses while not letting it stand against who and what we are.  When this is obtained, a sense of freedom is felt, fear of failure subsides, self-esteem grows, the struggle to win approval from others diminishes, independency increases, and life is lived to please oneself rather than others (McQuillan, 2014). Self-acceptance can be achieved by:

  • Celebrating your strengths
  • Distancing yourselves from people who bring you down
  • Forgiving yourselves from past regrets and moving on

Don’t know how to fully accept yourself? Read “The Path to Unconditional Self-Acceptance” by Dr. Seltzer.  Here’s the link:https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/200809/the-path-….

GRATITUDE

Gratitude is recognized as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness. It has been shown that those who reflect on things they’re grateful for experience a greater level of positive emotions, feel more lively, portray more compassion and kindness, and strengthen immune systems (Carpenter, n.d.).  You can practice this by:

  • Simply jotting down three things that you’re thankful for
  • Keeping tallies of kindness as your go about your day (need more encouragement to do this? People believe that this practice can lead to a better mood).
  • Write a gratitude letter to someone you’re thankful for

For more information on gratitude, check out this link: http://my.happify.com/hd/the-science-behind-gratitude

KINDNESS, COMPASSION, ALTRUISM

The ties between kindness, compassion, and altruism are similar as they all incorporate a considerate and helpful outlook for others.  This leads to happiness since it helps promote connection with others, helps us feel grateful for our own fortune, boosts our self-image as we use our strengths in a meaningful way, and can initiate a chain of positivity (Lyubormirsky, n.d.).  You can gain these benefits by:

  • Volunteering in your community, non-profit organization, etc.
  • Doing a random act of kindness, such as holding the door open for someone else
  • Donating money

Watch this Ted Talk by Hannah Brencher titled, “Love Letters to Strangers” for another idea on how to practice these factors.  https://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_brencher_love_letters_to_strangers?lang…

SIMPLICITY

Simplicity stands as something that is plain, natural, or easy to understand.  By incorporating this into our lifestyle, we make room for what is important by determining what it is that makes us happy, and the things that give our lives meaning and value (“Why Simple Living Needs Positive Psychology”, 2015).  This type of lifestyle improves environmental sustainability, and increases mental and physical health (Miller, 2014).  To incorporate simplicity into your life, take some of these steps:

  • De-materialze
  • Rest and relax
  • Be active
  • Eat for health

If you know all too well what being an overwhelmed college student is like, and need some more advice on living a simpler life, read this article: http://thinksimplenow.com/clarity/the-simple-life/?utm_source=feedburner…(Think+Simple+Now)

AUTHENTICITY

The term authentic means not false or copied; genuine; real. Therefore, this relates to us being ourselves, as opposed to what others want us to be or pretend to be.  This is accompanied by many benefits such as responding to difficulties with effective coping strategies, obtaining satisfactory relationships, enjoying a strong sense of self-worth and purpose, and maintaining the ability to pursue goals (Wright, 2014).  Dr. Jantz lists four ways to being a more authentic person:

  • Be keenly self-aware: observe yourself, and find where you feel yourself to be most comfortable
  • Find genuine connections: seek to understand the people around you. When you do this, you are more likely feel genuine and authentic yourself.
  • Don’t be perfect: embrace your imperfection because perfection cannot be attained
  • Be present: be an active listener and give others your full attention

Eager to learn more about how to be more authentic? Read “Authentic Self”–http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/authenticself.htm

SELF-EXPRESSION

Self-expression is the expression of one’s own personality through conversation and behavior, and means such as poetry and painting.  Through this state, we can express our fears, anxieties, or other negative feelings in a productive manner, which gives us control over our emotions (Kane, 2013). It is important to note that our expressions, no matter what they are, have the ability to touch others.  To practice this, here are a few simple ideas that have a great deal of benefits:

  • Draw
  • Sing
  • Write
  • Dance
  • Start a blog

To learn about the benefits of art therapy, read: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200705/art-therapy-the-healing-…

CREATIVITY

Creativity is the ability to produce new ideas. Creativity steps outside the bounds of art, as we may have to get creative to adapt to new environments, complete projects, etc.  There is no “best” way of being creative, as everyone has their own way of displaying this concept.  Benefits of being creative include: creating balance and order, giving sense of control over the external world, making something positive out of a loss, resolving conflicts, and making thoughts and feelings clear (Minarik, 2013). To become more creative, consider 6 suggestions listed by Dr. Thagard (2010):

  • Make new connections- broaden yourself to more than one field
  • Expect the unexpected- learn from failures
  • Be persistent- focus on key problems
  • Get excited- pursue fun projects
  • Be sociable- communicate work to others
  • Use the world- seek inspiration in nature

Being creative as a kid can be easy, as we are less inclined to have self-doubt and fear of failure.  Facing this challenge in adulthood can diminish creativity, but through watching the attached video, hopefully you’ll be encouraged to try something new. Here it is:https://youtu.be/0JUFjTOM32g

SOCIAL CONNECTION

As humans, we are wired to love, be loved, and belong.  Therefore, we thrive off of connecting with others.  When we are socially connected, our immune system strengthens, rates of anxiety and depression decrease, self-esteem is enhanced, and empathy is developed. You can gain these benefits by practicing the following habits:

  • Focus on quality over quantity when building relationships
  • Prioritize face-to-face interactions
  • Share with others
  • Listen to others
  • Ask questions
  • See past differences
  • Don’t worry about rejection

To learn more about social connections, check out this short article written by a teacher who employed the positive impacts of this realm of positive psychology: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susie-wolbe/social-connections-and-th_b_61…

MINDFULNESS, PRESENT MOMENT AWARENESS

Mindfulness, present moment awareness is a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present.  This allows individuals to experience current thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgement.  Mindfulness practices are beneficial as they present more cognitive flexibility, better control over attention, emotions and impulses, aides in stress and anxiety relief, and produces greater brain integration (Greenburg, n.d.). This state of mind can be produced by:

  • Focusing on your breathing
  • Becoming aware of physical tension
  • Paying attention to sensations as you go about your daily routine

When you need some relief, you may consider taking a breather and coloring one of the sheets found on this website:https://wellness.uchicago.edu/sites/wellness.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/…

FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness means to grant a pardon to a person.  This act helps let go of negative emotions, thus allowing more positive feelings to be found.  From this, benefits such as improved relationships, decreased anxiety and stress, lowered blood pressure, and greater immune and heart health can be noticed (Zheng, Fehr, Tai, Narayanan & Gelfand, 2014).  As forgiveness is not always easy, you may consider using Everett Washington’s REACH strategy:

  • Recall the hurt
  • Empathize with the person who hurt you
  • offer an Altruistic gift of forgiveness
  • Commit to forgive
  • Hold onto that forgiveness

To see how forgiveness is something you do for yourself, watch “The Science of Happiness- Forgive and Forget”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8o9_TlZyB_Y

FLOW, BEING “IN THE ZONE”

To be involved in an activity for its own sake means to have achieved a state of flow, which helps us get “in the zone” of the moment.  This can lead to improved performance in realms such as teaching, learning, athletics, and artistic activities.  Secondly, it can lead to further learning and skill development since new challenges must be sought in order to maintain this state.  Psychology expert Kendra Cherry lists that flow can be achieved through the following factors:

  1. Matching your skills to the task
  2. Striving for something that challenges your existing skills
  3. Have clear goals
  4. Avoid interruptions
  5. Focus on the present and not the end state

For further reading, you may consider picking up Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book, Finding flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life.

OPTIMISM

Optimism contributes to the tendency to look more on the favorable side of events or conditions.  People who have optimistic outlooks tend to see the glass half full, or make lemonade out of lemons.  Optimists seem to do better in school, work and extracurricular activities, have better overall health, and may live longer (Carter, 2012).  If you are seeking ways to have a more positive outlook, you can:

  • Spend time at the end of your day writing down positive experiences
  • Reframe negative thoughts into positive ones
  • Spend time with positive people
  • Focus on what you can control, and let go of what you can’t
  • Reduce negative language from your vocabulary

To convert from pessimistic to optimistic, read Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

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