Something positive


Read this from the Thursday “Mind your body” section and thought this article “Thinking positive” is quite useful, well at least to me. I thought I want to remind myself thus, this post.

Positive psychology has been described as the scientific study of happiness. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman proposed that such an abstract notion can be broken into three components that can be more easily quantified and studied.

These are the pleasant life, the good life and the meaningful life.  They are not mutually exclusive.

1. A pleasant life

Studies shows that positive emotions such as gratitude, appreciation and kindness can act as a buffer against depression by counteracting its negative effects on physical health, attention and creativity. Also people should learn to accept praise which will help them accept themselves.

To cultivate a pleasant life, try these exercises:

three goods things or count your blessings

Before you go to sleep, write down three positive events that happened that day. You may also write what makes them good. It clarifies what you hold to be valuable. For eg. You may find meeting an old friend a good thing because relationships are important to you.

Another variation is to think of three good things that will happen that day.

gratitude visit

Think of someone whom you are grateful to but have not thanked properly. Write that person a letter and tell him why and specially what you are grateful for. Describe how his action benefited you.

As you write, allow yourself to be in touch with the feeling of gratitude. When you are done, read the letter to your friend over the phone or in person or let him read in your presence.

savouring moments

Once a day, take the time to enjoy something that you usually hurry through such as eating a meal, taking a shower or walking to class.

When it’s over, write down what you did, how you did it differently and how it felt compared to when you did it without much thought.

2. A Good life

The second component involves the pursuit of highly engaging activities. Studies have shown that transforming the structure of one’s daily life can lead to less depression and anxiety.

To cultivate a good life, try this exercise:

signature strengths

Identify your top five strengths such as appreciation of beauty, modesty, courage, diligence and love of learning and try to use them in a new way daily. You can take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths 240 item questionnaire at Authenticahappiness.sas.upenn.edu. The below are my five top strengths!

VIA Character Strengths Profile

Your Top Character Strength

Bravery
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.

Your Second Character Strength

Fairness
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Your Third Character Strength

Honesty
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a “real” person.

Your Fourth Character Strength

Perseverance
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you “get it out the door” in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.

Your Fifth Character Strength

Self-Regulation
You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.

Think of ways to use your strengths more in daily life and use them in new ways has been shown to change the way you view yourself and what you are good at. For instance, someone who lists curiosity as a strength may make a list of things he would like to know, identify ways to find out more about them.

3. A meaningful life

The third component involves the pursuit of the meaning of or goals in life. One way is to use one’s talent and strengths to serve something that is bigger than oneself, through positive institutions such as religion, politics, family and community.

Here are some ways to create a meaningful life:

act of kindness

Try a random act of kindness every day. For instance, read to an elderly relative, lend a listening ear to a friend, donate your used clothing or cook a meal for someone.

find your goal in life

Imagine you are at your 80th birthday and someone is about to give a speech that celebrates your life, paying attention to your finer qualities and achievements. How do you want to be remembered? Find your goals and work towards them.

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