What is Positive Thinking?
Positive Thinking is the mental state or attitude that reflects the belief that an outcome or endeavour will be desirable, favourable or meet expectations. It is tied to an Optimistic perspective on life, or simply put, always viewing the glass as half full.
Psychological studies show that dispositional optimism or positive thinking can build resilience to stress. In addition, Positive Thinking can improve physical wellbeing or reduce physical proclivities towards common health concerns such as heart disease.
What is Positive Psychology?
Positive Psychology is the scientific approach and study of what makes life worth living, with an emphasis on societal and individual well-being. This field of psychology attempts to improve Quality of Life by focusing on positive institutions, positive individual traits and positive subjective experiences. With the rise in Mental Health issues as a result of the pandemic and more emphasis on mental wellbeing, Positive Psychology has seen a steady growth of interest.
The Three Paths to Happiness
Martin Seligman, an important influence in the field of Positive Psychology, outlined three elements of happiness;
Considered the most transient and least important, this is the ‘Life of Enjoyment‘. It looks at how individuals predict and savour positive emotions and feelings that are generated from relationships, interests, hobbies etc. of a normal life.
It looks at how people derive well-being, positivity, meaning and purpose by being a part of a something larger, and giving back to something more. It is the ‘Life of Affiliation’. The Meaningful Life element is tied to an individual’s relationship with nature, traditions, beliefs, social groups, organisations etc.
It looks at the benefits of absorption, flow (being in the zone) and immersion when people engage with an activity or task that positively matches their strengths. Essentially, it is the sense of confidence or well-being at accomplishing a task or knowing that a task can be accomplished. This is the ‘Life of Engagement‘
Tips to foster Positive Thinking
Resiliency is the ability to cope and adapt to stressful situations. There are several ways to help build this;
- Acknowledge that change is inevitable and that there are circumstances that can never be controlled or predicted.
- Do not be passive when facing an issue. Actively try to solve the problem, instead of waiting for it to be solved.
- Build and maintain healthy relationships with family and friends.
Change the narrative
When frustrated or stressed, change the narrative. Reframe the situation into something positive. For example, if a house has a leaky roof, once the initial annoyance has passed, consider how fortunate it is to live in a home, when many others do not have basic shelter.
The act of smiling, even if faked, can help reduce blood pressure in times of stress. After a stressful encounter or moment, take a few seconds to breathe deep and before moving on to the next activity or task, smile to yourself.