Pursuing Happiness: Is Your Glass Half Full?
Sometimes I think attitude really is everything. I mean, if we walk into a room with a sour face and a negative attitude, then we are bound to gather the attention of our fellow sourpusses and their pals. These sorts of things act much like Velcro, fastening together similar minds and ensuring an acidic atmosphere remains intact. This trait, in its sheer nature, is not beneficial–to anyone. Yet, despite the knowledge that a change in attitude can purportedly change the outcome of a situation, it’s not always easy to do.
Enter the burgeoning practice of Positive Psychology: According to the University of Pennsylvania, “Positive psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future.” At the core of positive psychology is a desire to encourage individuals to enhance their strengths in order to be their best selves. This differs from the psychology we are most familiar with, which aims to discover and treat dysfunction. In contrast, this relatively new field of positive psychology places its focus on helping people lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Both of these pathologies are important: when there’s dysfunction, we need to learn how to care for it, which leads to healing. At the same time, we must also learn to acknowledge our strengths so we can expand on them and live more joyfully. Lest we forget, our reactions to pleasant and unpleasant things are a direct result of our experiences; therefore, it’s not uncommon to get lost in the past, disabling one’s ability to thrive in the present.
This is where positive psychology gives us the opportunity to expand on our optimism in a potentially pessimistic, emotional environment. Part of gaining a positive mental attitude is realizing we are not our circumstances. Instead, we soon discover that we can hold those very predicaments with care and intention without getting lost in our feelings about them. Wayne Dyer says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” What a wonderful opportunity to begin to skillfully govern our difficulties! At the same time, this doesn’t mean we should be positive by being insincere or pretending to be happy about something we actually find disdainful or troubling. In other words, you don’t have to eat a crap sandwich and pretend you like it. If anything, this is a chance to garnish it with something you do like, including not having that sandwich at all.
Inspired by this: Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work
Interesting articles and info about Positive Psychology: