Martin Seligman, commonly known as the founder of Positive Psychology, wrote, “Curing the negatives does not produce the positives”. This idea of ‘positive psychology’ is not about thinking only positive or happy thoughts all the time, but rather about exploring the ways humans can perform at their optimal and feel their best. Removing negatives in your life does not automatically translate into creating more positives. It’s a call to action and a journey that you need to embrace. Here’s how to get started.
Understand Well-being and Change
2020 has been exceptionally challenging on every level but particularly at a psychological and emotional one. These challenges could be work-related, financial, relationships – and so on – and they can be demanding and conflict with your well-being.
The PERMA Model is a theory of well-being that attempts to answer the questions, ‘what is human flourishing?’ and ‘what enables it?’. There are 5 building blocks that contribute to human’s feeling a sense of well-being: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. Different people will derive well-being from each of these five building blocks to varying degrees and follow different routes to reach the end goal. We look at some of these in more detail.
Increase Positive Emotions
This is about finding energy sources we can draw upon from within our own lives that will increase our positive emotions. Drawing on events in our lives that brought joy, gratitude, inspiration, hope, love etc. increases our optimism, creativity, confidence, sense of purpose – our general well-being. When we experience and connect with these positive emotions – it, in turn, boosts our personal stores of resilience which triggers an upward spiral of more positives. We then become more collaborative, more productive, a better performer. It is a self-rewarding cycle. Take time to find those positive emotions that you can tap into as an energy source and build upon.
Positive Engagements and Relationships
Engagement is an experience in which someone fully deploys their skills, strengths, and attention for a challenging task that produces a gratifying reward. This is called your ‘flow’ and it can be experienced across a variety of activities. During these isolating months of lockdown where physical human connection has diminished, achieving your flow could be found in maintaining your friendships online or having a positive zoom call with a work colleague. We are social beings because the drive to connect with and serve others promotes our survival. It’s about choosing to have productive and collaborative connections with others and staying engaged as these affect the quality of our relationships and the nature of our interactions. It takes 5 positive engagements to 1 negative engagement in order to consider a relationship as being ‘healthy’.
Harness Your Strengths for Energy
Our strengths come naturally to us and are where we can draw our energy. Focussing on our strengths drives our performance up to six times more because we are doing the things we are good at, that we enjoy, and they help us achieve our goals which, in turn, reduces stress and increases confidence.
Now more than ever, it is vital to make time every day to consider your status of well-being and use these strategies to get you on track. Start by reflecting on some of these questions: “What is right with you and who are you at your best?”, “What energises you?”, “What comes naturally to you?”, “What would change if you brought your best self to a situation”.