Positive psychologists emphasize that to achieve a more optimistic outlook, a decision needs to be made to embrace the belief that happiness is to a large degree within one’s control and that we all have the power to create internal joy. Here are some practical suggestions that can be used to take initial steps towards a more positive existence:
1) Use Past Experiences Constructively: Utilize earlier life experiences to grow in some aspect of your present life and potentially for the future. Avoid the trap of holding on to negative feelings from the past which cannot be altered.
2) Focus Energy on the Present: Make a conscious effort to anticipate in advance any potential positive occurrences that may be present in your daily routine and be alert to unanticipated positive events. Then pay close attention to momentary pleasures and wonders and take “mental photographs” to help capture these experiences. Finally, designate time each day to reflect on the positive that exists in your life and be sure not to take anything for granted.
3) Work Towards the Future: Dare to dream, shoot for the stars and build hope and optimism for what lies ahead. Develop a plan for the future that allows you to work towards your own personal vision of fulfillment. When you limit your fantasies you close off possibilities for growth and success.
4) Engage in Physical Activity on a Regular Basis:Taking care of your body impacts you both physically and mentally. Shift from a “can’t do” to a “can do” attitude and focus on what you are capable of doing physically. Find ways to associate activity with something that you enjoy so you can experience immediate benefits.
5) Explore Ways of Finding Meaning: Dedicate yourself to something you truly believe in and involves something that you think is larger than you (spirituality, charity, kindness to others). It will provide you with a sense of purpose and make life meaningful. Treat today as if it’s your last and don’t let the precious moments of life slip through your fingers.
6) Assume a “Big Picture” Perspective:When you encounter a situation that is stressful (but not tragic) step back and ask yourself if in the larger scheme of your life this is truly important. Consider whether or not it is worth your emotional investment and with the passage of time if the situation will pass or be less critical. Keep your eye on your priorities and consider ways to use the trying circumstances as an opportunity for growth.
7) Invest in Relationships:Positive Psychology research has demonstrated that developing close relationships is the most crucial component for achieving happiness. Invest time in developing meaningful connections with friends and family. Avoid focusing on having your needs met and focus your energy on meeting the needs of the people about whom you care most. The more you put into your relationships the more love you will receive in return.
Perhaps most importantly, increased joy and positive growth produces benefits beyond simply feeling good. It’s been proven to broaden intellectual, physical and social resources. Happy people have better health habits, lower blood pressure and stronger immune systems, which ultimately lead to living longer. They also experience more satisfying relationships, higher levels of self-esteem, more effectively manage stress, a greater sense of purpose, and more clarity and optimism that they can achieve goals. Ultimately, it has the potential to create greater productivity and success and meaningfully impact almost all major domains of life.