What is Positive Psychology? And isn’t it just “thinking positive?”
No, certainly not! “Thinking positive” needs to have a realistic foundation to work. Otherwise, we would have all “thought” ourselves into utopia by now!
Positive psychology is the practice of utilizing positive elements of the reality around us to provide us with a sense of well-being. Here’s a few basics you can use from positive psychology. If you like it, you can find plenty more where that came from, because it’s an entire field of its own with many dedicated practitioners.
Gratitude: this can help refocus your mind from negative things to positive things. They’re both present – the trick is whatever your mind focuses on will seem bigger. Therefore, we want to focus on things that make us happy. Here’s a link to a really interesting, fun way to start a gratitude journal:
Savoring: this is maximizing good, pleasurable moments. It is similar to mindfulness, in that it requires us to stay in a good moment and/or a good feeling and “savor” it. It is also similar to gratitude, in that it puts our conscious and subconscious focus on the good, making it seem even bigger and better.
An easy savoring exercise is to tell a supportive loved one about a good or exciting thing that happened to you – they get excited for you, which makes you feel good, which makes everything feel even better. This is how savoring works (and there are many other ways to try it out).
Strengths: many of us spend a lot of time worrying about our weaknesses, forgetting completely about our strengths. When we are mindful about the strengths we have, we can use them more strategically. We can also build confidence in ourselves by remembering how many strengths we actually have. This links to a fun, easy worksheet that does both – identifies our strengths and teaches us how to use them to even greater advantage:
Positive psychology is full of simple, effective methods to be resilient in the face of hardship and to face life with realistic, not blind, positivity.
Mental Health Student Intern