11 strategies of positive-thinking people
Wellness is more that just diet and exercise, it’s also about your state of mind. It’s about how you engage your environment; how you deal with situations, especially negative ones. Positivity is a massive part of the wellness journey and is essential to your well-being. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, theorizes that while 60 per cent of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, the remaining 40 per cent is up to us.
In his 2004 Ted Talk, Seligman describes three different kinds of happy lives: The pleasant life, in which you fill your life with as many pleasures as you can, the life of engagement, where you find a life in your work, parenting, love and leisure and, the meaningful life, which “consists of knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are.” The pursuit of pleasure, research determined, has hardly any contribution to a lasting fulfillment. Instead, pleasure is “cherry on top” that adds a certain sweetness to satisfactory.
And while it might sound like a big feat to tackle great concepts like meaning and engagement (pleasure sounded much more realistic), positive people have habits you can introduce into your everyday life that may add to the bigger picture of bliss. It is entirely possible to use these habits deliberately and strategically in your daily lives. So just what are some of these habits, what do positive people do?
Surround themselves with other positive people.
Joy is contagious. Researchers of the Framingham Heart Study who investigated the spread of happiness over 20 years found that those who are surrounded by happy people “are more likely to become happy in the future.” This is reason enough to dump the depressing folk and spend more time with uplifting, positive people.
They smile when they mean it.
Even if you’re not feeling so chipper, cultivating a happy thought, and then smiling about it, could up your positivity levels and make you more productive. It’s important to be genuine with your grin: Faking a smile while experiencing negative emotions could actually worsen your mood.
Resilience, not happiness, is the opposite of depression. Positive people know how to bounce back from failure. Resilience is like insulation for the inevitable hardship human beings are bound to face. As the Japanese proverb goes, “Fall seven times and stand up eight.”
They are mindful of the good.
It’s important to celebrate great, hard-earned accomplishments, but positive people give attention to their smaller victories, too. When you take time to notice the things that go right, it means you’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day, which can help with your mood. And being mindful of the things that do go your way (even something as simple as a traffic-free journey) can make you feel a greater sense of accomplishment throughout the day.
They appreciate simple pleasures.
A delicious bowl of ice cream; an energetic dog… Positive people take the time to appreciate these easy-to-come-by pleasures. Finding meaning in the little things, and practicing gratitude for all that you do have is associated with a sense of overall positivity.
Devote time to giving.
Even though there are only 24 hours in a day, positive people fill some of that time doing good for others, which in return, does some good for the do-gooders themselves. Givers also experience what researchers call “the helper’s high,” a euphoric state experienced by those engaged in charitable acts. The act of making a financial donation triggers the reward center in our brains that is responsible for euphoria.
Lose track of time deliberately.
When you’re immersed in an activity that is simultaneously challenging, invigorating and meaningful, you experience a joyful state called “flow.” Positive people seek this sensation of getting “caught up” or “carried away,” which diminishes self-consciousness and promotes the feelings associated with success. In order for a Flow state to occur, you must see the activity as voluntary, enjoyable (intrinsically motivating), and it must require skill and be challenging (but not too challenging) with clear goals towards success.
Leave the small talk for deeper conversation.
There’s nothing wrong with a little small talk every now and then, but sitting down to talk about what makes you tick is a prime practice for feeling good about life. Positive people tend to be those who take part in more substantive conversation and less ‘gossip’, and as a result they experience more feelings of satisfaction.
Make a point to listen.
When you listen, you open up your ability to take in more knowledge versus blocking the world with your words or your distracting thoughts. You are also demonstrating confidence and respect for others. Knowledge and confidence is proof that you are secure and positive with yourself thus radiating positive energy. Good listening is a skill that strengthens relationships and leads to more satisfying experiences. A good listener may walk away from a conversation feeling as if their presence served a purpose, an experience that is closely connected with increased well-being.
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