Dr. Seligman is one of the founders of positive psychology. He wanted to move away from just looking at mental disorder to focus on what makes people happy. He found the following things make people happy: Living in a wealthy democracy and not an impoverished dictatorship, getting married, avoiding negative events and negative emotion, acquiring a rich social network and being religious. I am able to feel grateful about most of these things. I feel especially lucky to live in a country where we don’t have to worry about food or warfare. However, I am not able to avoid negative emotion all the time especially as I have a 3 year old who likes to vent his frustrations. On the other hand, I do feel grateful for having my son and the love he has brought to my life. I have also been able to enjoy childhood delights such as sledging in the snow and going to wave pools-both things I hadn’t done since my own childhood.
Psychologist, Robert Emmons, found that recording blessings in a gratitude journal once a week: increased subjects’ overall satisfaction with life, raised energy levels and for patients with neuromuscular disease, relieved pain and fatigue.
According to Dr. Seligman, other things that make you happy are:
1)Optimism also makes you happy so dispute your own negative beliefs. Ask yourself: What good does it do me to dwell on negative beliefs? How can I change the situation?
2) Savouring life’s momentary pleasures and joys such as a sunny day. Take mental photographs or physical souvenirs of events.
3)Congratulating yourself for things you have achieved.
4)Paying mindful attention to the present can make us happier and reduce stress. MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) has been used on people with anxiety disorders, depression and chronic pain. One study showed physical and psychological improvements for 225 participants with chronic intractable pain.
5) Being in a state of flow where we experience an absence of feeling, loss of self-consciousness and total engagement. For example, we can experience flow when we are dancing, playing football, reading a good book and writing. So I am hoping that writing this blog will help me experience flow and happiness! The more flow we have, the happier we are.
6) Having an overarching mission in our lives makes us happy. Seligman suggests we might get this through religion but we can also find purpose in other ways.
- Optimism: Choose happy (janekimball321.wordpress.com)
- Improve Your Well Being and Be Younger! (desire2change1.wordpress.com)
- The Power of Positive Psychology: How Focusing on What’s Right Can Help Fix What’s Wrong (drbell.typepad.com)