After finishing my Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology with WBI in 2014, I was excited to start sharing the life-changing content I’d been learning. I was also trying to digest and implement all the great insights and strategies into my own life. It was a year later that I finally came up with a framework that made Positive Psychology easier for me to use and teach. I call it The Path for PositivityTM. It summarizes five key concepts that help me understand and implement my learnings.
1. Understand why it’s hard to be positive when our survival instinct naturally focuses on problems and dangers.
I believe that learning how our survival instinct works helps us understand why it’s so easy to get stuck in negative thinking. It’s a natural part of our biology and a universal struggle (although more for some people than others). Once we know this, we can acknowledge it and look for solutions.
2. Realize we can change our thinking and take advantage of our neuroplasticity.
It’s only been in the past 20 years or so that science has begun to more fully recognize the power of neuroplasticity. Our ability to physically and functionally change our brains provides real hope that we can get better at changing our thinking. Our capacity to see more of the good stuff in our work, our relationships, and our life can get easier.
3. Improve our ability to manage our thoughts and our saboteurs.
The ultimate goal in all of this is to better manage our thoughts so we spend more time with thoughts that serve us instead of those that are working against us. It’s easy to get stuck focusing on past, present, and future stresses. Soon, we can find ourselves in a downward spiral that can steal our happiness, our health, and our life.
4. Practice tools to make it easier to shift our thinking.
Now there are studies that have looked at different strategies and tools that can make this shift easier. Research supports the idea of focusing on gratitude—looking for three good things in your day, nurturing your social network, and many others. These tend to be simple things we can incorporate into our busy lives.
5. Identify ways to remember we have a choice.
We are so busy! How can we possibly remember to notice our thoughts? There are so many distractions and so much to do. That’s where the last step comes in. We need tips and tricks to remind us that we have a choice. Here are a few you can try.
- Do you have a password (or maybe several) that you use every day? Why not try using an acronym or word that you associate with a positive emotion or experience? IAG4MVSH could stand for “I am grateful for my very supportive husband.” Or try a simple phrase like “Peace4All.” It could be the first letter of each word in the title of your favorite song. You could use a phrase that reminds you of a favorite memory. You get the idea.
- How about keeping one of your favorite pictures of a happy memory at your desk, or as the background on your device? I also like to post quotes and positive words around my desk, on my bathroom mirror, on my refrigerator, and in my car.
- Does the ringtone on your phone trigger a happy feeling or memory? With today’s technology, we can have our favorite uplifting song at our fingertips.
We don’t need help noticing or remembering the unhappy happenings around us, but we can add positive reminders to help us find a better balance.
This post was reprinted with permission from Tina’s website, thepositiveedge.net.
Tina Hallis, PhD, is a positivity speaker, trainer, author, and founder of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to sharing the science of positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures. She has shared her programs with thousands of people from a variety of industries, including government agencies, academic institutions, medical staff, financial institutions, biotech companies, manufacturing companies, sales teams, and nonprofits. Tina has also presented and trained at organizations across the United States.