In our endeavour to become more self-aware of our mental health and take care of ourselves, Positive Psychology can work hand in hand with the process of diagnosis and treatment to help make us more resilient and happy people. Positive Psychology is all about focussing on the positive things within our control and our strengths so that we can build a life of meaning and purpose. This is a wonderfully empowering idea. It asks, “What’s already great about you that you can improve on to make you a happier person?” We walk you through the PERMA model of Positive Psychology, an abbrieviation for 5 components we can take ownership of and pay attention to towards happiness.
Image by Paul Gilmore, from Unsplash.
P is for Positive emotion, and it takes an abundance of forms including hope, interest, love, compassion, pride, amusement and gratitude. In other words, it’s more than just about being happy. All these positive emotions become emotional resources that we need for coping with difficult situations and also counteract negative emotions, thereby making us more resilient.
Instead of giving us tunnel vision as negative emotions do, positive emotions affect our brain in ways that broaden our awareness and improve our attention span and our memory. In this way, positive emotions help us be more resilient.
For instance, they make us better problem solvers. They help us to be more aware of all available options, hold several ideas in mind at once and understand how different ideas relate to each other.
The main takeaway: While our control over what we feel is limited, we can create opportunities for us to learn and feel positive emotions. We delve into some ways to cultivate positive emotion.
Image by Bao Truong, from Unsplash.
Spending time with people we care about
As inherently social beings, this is important for us as human beings to be content––even for introverts. Doing so can help us to create meaningful memories and show we care, bringing up a wonderful range of positive emotions including connectedness, legacy, love, contribution and joy.
Image by Jade Scarlato, from Unsplash.
Engaging in our hobbies
We do things we love because they make us happy in many ways. Whether we’re honing our skills in crochet or completing a cross country run, our hobbies give rise to positive emotions such as joy, pride and amusement.
Exposing ourselves to uplifting people and content
Positivity is contagious. When we surround ourselves with people, activites and content that genuinely inspires and resonates with us, their positivity in the form of habits, ideas and/or emotions are likely to catch on. This includes the members of our community, music, podcasts, books and activities both indoors and outdoors.
Image by Gabrielle Henderson
Reflecting on things we are grateful for and what is going well in our lives
This is especially crucial when things in our lives are overwhelming or moving so quickly that we miss the details that are making a world of difference to our lives in a positive way, or even the bigger picture of why what we’re doing is meaningful. Pause. Reflect. Practise gratitude. Cultivate the habit of jotting down in your phone or on paper the things you are thankful for. This helps us to appreciate and find patterns in what brings us joy.
When we seed our lives with positive emotions, we become psychologically and even physically more resilient towards being happier human beings. We hope positive psychology helps you to identify, multiply and create positivity in your life!
Thank you to Alexandra, our contributor in the psychology field, for your expertise!
To find out more about Positive Psychology, read the other parts of our Positive Psychology series:
Sherrie is the resident writer, programmer, marketing wizard and snack curator of Co.'s community team. Her favourite things about being at Co. include sharing calories with community members, meeting new friends in the Duxton neighbourhood (and sharing more calories) and getting lost in Littered with Books across the street.
Alexandra is a vibrant Mental Wellbeing Psychologist who graduated with BSc (Hons) in Psychology from Michigan State University and a Master’s in Counselling (Distinction) from Monash University. She has more than 10 years of experience, including extensive training in various positive psychology, mental resilience and counseling techniques. Alexandra’s diverse work is driven by her firm belief that humans have far more that can bring them together than should bring them apart.