Positive Psychology has much to teach us about how to weave happiness into our everyday lives. In my last post I shared information from Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness. In this post I want to introduce you to another researcher, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, and her book, Positivity.
According to Fredrickson, positivity is the whole range of positive emotions–from appreciation to love, from amusement to joy, from hope to gratitude. She says it includes the positive meanings and optimistic attitudes that trigger positive emotions.
Rather than pursuing happiness, Fredrickson suggests we pursue positivity. She lists 10 forms of positivity:
So how do we use this information to increase our positivity?
Fredrickson devotes five chapters in her book to explore ways to enjoy life and “become the best version of yourself.” One way to increase positivity is to reduce negativity. She offers a number of strategies for reducing negativity, including
- Disputing negative thoughts (looking at the facts of a situation instead of wallowing in the emotions around it)
- Distracting yourself when you find you are ruminating on a negative thought
- Practicing mindfulness with some form of meditation
- Examining those areas of your life that cause you stress and consider ways you can change the situation or the way you look at it
As for increasing positivity, Fredrickson recommends the following:
- Look for positive meaning in the events of your life in order to open up the space for some positive emotion to come forth
- Savor and appreciate your experiences
- Count your blessings and express gratitude
- Perform acts of kindness and recognize it in others
- Follow your passions, at work and at play
- Use visualization to dream about your future
- Apply your character strengths (see VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire)
- Make a point to connect with others
- Spend time in nature
- Be curious and open your mind to new ways of thinking
Which of these strategies have you found most effective in helping you stay positive? Which ones would you like to try?