Depression, sadness, pain, malady, there are a dozen other well-known words for negative feelings. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and drug companies have devised many ways of treating it and identifying it. Negative psychology is so well known and focused on that many institutions have never thought to look at the opposite end of the emotional/mood spectrum, to look at positive psychology.
Studying positive psychology is the art of trying to understand some of the most basic emotions associated with happiness. Whether the feeling described is content, peaceful, enthusiastic, euphoric, happiness is an umbrella term for feelings that promote well-being and sound mental health, which can greatly impact physical health. This fresh take on psychology is playing out in different ways. As we become more interconnected through social media, we see more of the joy and the pain in the world. It is difficult to stay in a positive mood when we are bombarded with images and media. Finding ways to stay positive is a great tool because it lengthens our lifespan, reduces inflammation, strengthens immune function, and lowers stress.
The chance to increase our healing factor is a benefit of positive psychology, too. Happiness, laughter and an optimistic outlook can help your conscious impact your immune system, allowing it to direct resources to places in the body that need to heal. Let’s take a look at what kinds of practices can change a negative outlook to a positive one.
Practice Makes Perfect
Business researchers sought to understand willpower, how it impacts business leaders and what it is. They theorized that willpower could be strengthened and weakened like a muscle. The same can go for a lot of practices that occur within the mind. It is important to note that a negative mindset cannot be changed overnight successfully, it takes time. But with that time comes subtle changes because they are things the mental muscles that become strengthened. So with this list comes encouragement and a reminder: practice these habits of being happy with reasonable frequency so your body can benefit.
Practice 1: Helping Others Helps You
Have you ever fed another helpless human being? Cleaned a helpless person who is dirty? Worked at a food pantry? Was there ever a moment when, working with people less privileged, you realized just how much they go through?
Helping someone less fortunate is a game changer, psychologically speaking. By taking the time to make someone else’s life better, you are actively creating positive emotions in the world. The sudden realization, once it hits, can literally distract the negative emotions as a perspective based on what you have becomes available.
Practice 2: Build Your Relationships
Meaningful social bonds create a sense of community, allowing for you to share your victories and struggles can even increase the bonding hormone, oxytocin. Meaningful social bonds happen by good communication, presence, and time. Being present and spending time with friends and family that bring out your positive side can increase your feelings of happiness. These relationships built allow you to share the difficult parts of your life, which can often reduce the feelings of loneliness and stress.
Building strong relationships starts with understanding the communication cycle. Listening to someone is more than just letting someone talk and waiting to talk yourself. Active listening involves taking in what someone says, processing it, and understanding what it means to you. This allows your reply, if you decide so, to be even more meaningful. This basic component, active listening, helps to enrich relationships even further.
Practice 3: Laugh Often
Did you know that there are groups of people out there that practice the art of laughter? That the act of laughing can elevate positive moods, create social bonding, and even give you a decent abdominal workout? This is the case, and laughter is so beneficial that some positive psychologists would practice laughing, even if there is nothing really to laugh about because laughter is contagious.
Reading a funny book, watching a comedy show, or opening up the comics page in the newspaper are all good examples of where to search for laughter. Seek out that funny friend, or that restaurant with a good vibe.
Practice 4: Mindfulness/Meditation
Being mindful is being able to take yourself out of the current situation and try to gain multiple perspectives from it. Think of it as being an airplane that is flying around an airport, trying to look for the best runway, that airplane is you, and the airport is your situation. You are able to see different runways, different ways to approach the situation, and maybe see the other airplanes (people) that are hovering the situation.
Meditation is also another form of mindfulness. Yoga, martial arts, and being in the outdoors can be helpful in developing a mindset productive to meditation.
Practice 5: Completing Reasonable Goals
Setting goals for yourself on a daily basis, and on a long-term basis, too, can be helpful in developing a positive mindset. Working towards those goals that help to improve the self can develop a sense of growth or empowerment. This kind of positive psychology can build self-esteem. Set reasonable goals so that they can be achieved and overcome.
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