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 Luca Zanon, from Unsplash.
E is for Engagement. You know how people say that time flies when we’re having fun? That’s because we feel happy when we live in the moment and focus entirely on what we’re doing, to the extent of losing track of time.
How can we find something like that to do, you might ask? The answer: we are more likely to be completely absorbed in an activity if it is one that 1) engages our strengths, that is, something we are good at and 2) that challenges us at the same time.
Here are some ways to build engagement!
Participating in activities that we really love
It’s pretty much guaranteed that when we do something we like, it’s more likely that we’ll enjoy ourselves and, as a byproduct, be engaged with whatever the activity is. That, and where some kind of capability or skill is involved, practise makes perfect. It’s a wonderfully positive cycle: we enjoy doing things we are good at, so we keep doing them and getting better at them. It helps to make a list of the things we love, and try doing at least one item on the list everyday.
Exploring and identifying our strengths
Seize opportunities to try new things to invigorate your mind and body! This will help us to make new discoveries about ourselves including our interests and our strengths. Not only is this an exciting process, we’ll also gain a better understanding and awareness of what keeps us engaged and happy.
Image by Jannis Brandt, from Unsplash.
Practising being in the moment
We mean this even for the most seemingly mundane tasks. Be purposeful, focus and give your reasonable best during the day to day. Treat cutting fruits like a creative project. Think of grocery shopping as an exciting mission. You may surprise yourself with how joyful the prosaic things can be.
This is a powerful tip for even the best of us who have difficulty focussing. When performing a task or doing an activity, bring distractions such as mobile devices out of sight and earshot. This doesn’t just apply for inanimate objects. Set clear boundaries with the people in your life, perhaps about how or when you would like them to reach out to you during certain times of the day, or when you’re preoccupied.
Image by Dardan, from Unsplash.
Spending time in nature
Venture into a foresty area! Hike up a hill or mountain! Have a swim at the beach! Just a few moments in nature can perk up a tired brain. In an Australian study, researchers asked students to engage in a dull, attention-draining task in which they pressed a computer key when certain numbers flashed on a screen. Students who looked out at a flowering green roof for 40 seconds midway through the task made significantly fewer mistakes than students who paused for 40 seconds to gaze at a concrete rooftop.
Imagine the healing effects nature can have on you when you take this further and commit to your surroundings with all your senses such as by watching, listening and smelling.
Practising engagement helps us to live in the present and boosts our positive emotions and self-esteem. We hope you manage to find joy in being absorbed in the day-to-day activities and tasks that challenge and energise you!
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:
(Positive Psychology Series: Part 1/6) What is Positive Psychology? Can It Make Me Happy?
(Positive Psychology Series: Part 2/6) P for Positive Emotions
(Positive Psychology Series: Part 4/6) R for Relationships
(Positive Psychology Series: Part 5/6) M for Meaning
(Positive Psychology Series: Part 6/6) A for Accomplishments
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.