Positive Psychology Part 1 of potential thousands
Here goes nothing. My first attempt at writing you something about the amazing week away I had studying Positive Psychology. I would also like to add that while I was away in Byron Bay for the course I could have been in a dingy basement in the middle of nowhere and still had the best time. It wouldn't have mattered because the course and the people that I was surrounded by constantly blew my mind and it still feels like I dream that I even went. I’ll keep it brief for this blog post. I’ll just explain to you what positive psychology is and perhaps my top 3 takeaways from the course and then I’ll delve deeper in later blog posts down the track.
In a nutshell psychology for the better part of the last century has looked at what is wrong with us. It’s focussed on mental illness and the deficits among society and we have definitely made some progress in this area. However, there are many things going well with us and society that have being ingnored and this is where positive psychology comes in. Positive Psychology focuses on our strengths that enable us and our communities to thrive and flourish. It looks at what it takes to create a meaningful and fulfilling life that allows for authentic happiness to occur. I’ll clear something up right away, it’s not about being “positive” and smiling all the time as it’s name suggests but it is about equipping ourselves with the tools and strategies to shorten the time and decrease the intensity of any adversity that we come across. If anything the strategies actually allow you to become much more in tune with all your emotions, the negative and the positive. The information is based on science and facts, it is tied heavily into neuroscience (study of the brain) and there was not one piece of information that didn’t make sense. You can literally draw parallels with your own life to every aspect of positive psychology. As well as many other areas, it focusses heavily on, emotions, relationships, meaning, goals and accomplishments. It’s important for kids, hence the strong passion towards this area, and for adults.
Currently 1/4 adults in Australia will suffer a mental illness and 1/7 children will also experience a mental illness before the age of 14. These statistics are frightening but they also don’t imply that 3/4 adults and 6/7 kids are flourishing - they just simply don’t have a mental illness. This is more frightening to me, that our future generation and adults are not fulfilled with their current life. Whether that life is lacking meaning and purpose, deep connection or someone seeming has a very negative and deficit focus of the world around them. Positive Psychology aims to everyone and provide us with the tools to be our best selves.
So my top three...which is extremely hard pick but here it goes:
Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Every stomach churn, every fast paced heart beat and every tear - embrace it. Our body is simply trying to tell us something and we don’t do ourselves any favours by ignoring the ‘data’ that our body is giving us. If we look at our emotions as data, we can view them as a neutral event, as opposed to a good and bad feeling. It then places us in control of our emotions and we can decide what to do with this new information. Do you seek help, take time for yourself, go for a run or do something kind for someone else? The opportunities are endless but we just need to ensure we handle the emotions in a sustainable and healthy way.
When comparing your wellbeing to another’s there are three sections that determine the difference. 50% is down to genetics, 10% is circumstances, e.g, rich/poor, married/divorced, kids/no kids etc. The remaining 40% is your intentional activity - what you do with your time. This is known as the Happiness Pie and I don’t know about you, but 40% is a big slice of pie and I intend to devour it all. Your choices, your decisions and your actions make all the difference. So eat well, spend time with people who matter, practise mindfulness and gratitude, be kind, fill your bucket and those around you and just be your very best self. We are in control of our own wellbeing.
The effect we have on the people around us extends far greater than you think. A particular study showed that our actions have direct impact on our friends, friends, friend. Three degrees of separation. The interesting part was though it was the same effect for obesity, smoking and happiness. So be mindful of your choices, because they are effecting those around you more than you know. I also found this comforting to know that simply by living my best life I am having a positive impact on others that I might not even know.
So there you have it - just a few little pearls of wisdom. Let me know your thoughts below and any questions. I would love to answer them!