Archives for May, 2011
When it comes to dealing with a busy and fast paced life, finding ways to deal with stress and making time for rest and relaxation is crucial. If we don't have down time for our mind and body to relax, we will ultimately run down. We are human beings not human doings, and finding balance between work, rest, and play can help us have better physical and emotional health, and find greater life-fulfillment. Practice simplicity Sometimes simple is better. With all the things we have to do and the vast amount of options for consumption, living a simple and minimal life will make things less hectic and more organized. Living a more simple life can help you keep things uncluttered, prevent running into conflicting priorities, and making room for what's really important to you. Unplug If you're like most people you are constantly wired and plugged in. We are constantly stimulated and interacting with others through the phone, television, and internet. If we aren't careful this can leave no time for relaxing our mind. Just as our body needs sleep for restoration, our mind needs a rest from constant stimulation. Set time aside where you can "unplug" and unwind.
What do you do to create happiness in your life? Do you spend time doing things you enjoy? Maybe you spend time with friends and family or find relaxation from leisure activities? If any of these activities are a part of your life, you are on a pathway to happiness. Positive psychology has reveals that psychological well-being and life-satisfaction is related to engaging in life activities that boost positive emotions and discovering and utilizing our character strengths and virtues. There are four broad pathways that can help us enhance our positive emotions and experience more moments of happiness. The pathway of joy and pleasure When was the last time you were delighted and had a sense of positive well-being? One pathway that can lead to greater happiness is approaching life with a joyful attitude, and experiencing moments of gratification and pleasure.
Writing is an amazing creative and emotional outlet. I know not everyone enjoys writing, but there are many different ways to use writing to infiltrate positivity into our life and to focus on more upbeat and encouraging things. I know that since I've been writing here for PsychCentral, and for my personal development blog Shake off the Grind, I have had an opportunity to develop greater awareness and mindfulness about the thoughts and emotions that pervade my life. Writing therapy has been utilized and shown effective to help people process and regulate emotions, particularly for dealing with past trauma. Research has also shown that writing can increase peoples' positive emotions and moods. One research study revealed that when a group of participants wrote about positive emotional experiences it related to a significant increase in measures of life-satisfaction. Writing can help people gain a sense of mastery over the topic they are writing about, offering a greater sense of control, and can help them to identify preferred outcomes, and establish goals and solutions for problems they may be dealing with. So, how can you start incorporating positive writing in your life? Here are a few suggestions.
If there is one thing you could have that would give you a better life, what would it be? If you're like many people, you would say more money! How does money relate to your current level of life-satisfaction? As long as we have enough to get our basic needs met can we be satisfied? Depending on the culture we live in, money and financial wealth are common aspiration, and a valued sign of success and prestige. Though, how does our level of financial wealth really relate to happiness? Some research offers insight that money in relation to life-satisfaction is subjective and doesn't necessarily have a direct relationship. According to this research, it's not money that makes us happier, but our perception of money and what it allows us to do. For instance, it provides a greater sense of control, and can offer us a chance to create the life we truly desire. It comes down to having a sense of control and satisfaction with our current financial situation.
In this day and age the concept of "survival of the fittest" doesn't apply. There are many people who devote their life to helping others improve their life and get their needs meet. Why do people desire to prevent others suffering? Why do we sacrifice for others? Is it human nature and in our best interest to support and revive each other in times of need? There are, of course, different perspectives about this. Some people are bleeding hearts and will do whatever it takes to achieve equanimity and with everyone receiving a fair share. On the other hand, what is fair? And how do we take into consideration the ideas of personal responsibility, determination, and tenacity when it comes to getting our life where we want it to be? This second perspective may not be so compassionate and giving. Neither view is right or wrong of course, and I personally see some value to both perspectives. It's very healthy to have a sense of determination and drive, however it's hard to deny that with a little more generosity and giving the world would be a vastly better place. It's difficult to find a balance.
On Monday I posted the first part of this article exploring how the fruits of the Spirit parallel many of topics and areas examined in positive psychology. In the previous article I examined the fruits of: love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness, and the opposing emotional state we tend to live by if we are not being emotionally aware. Today, the rest of the attributes will be discussed along with the emotional counterparts. The remaining "fruits" include: generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So, once again ask yourself where you fall on this emotional and behavioral continuum. Are you living by generosity or greed? Is giving to others and being generous part of your life? Giving doesn't mean we have to neglect our personal needs, but when we have more than enough giving can be a powerful way to expand positivity. Focusing on what we have and how we can help others provides a sense of gratitude. If we are always envious of others and worried about what we lack, it leads to resentment and anxiety. Start focusing on what you have and believe in abundance for all.
I attended a wonderful church service yesterday, and it made me realize how certain religious prescriptions parallel many areas of positive psychology research. For instance, the emphasis of showing kindness to others, living a joy filled life, and focusing on love and generosity all pervade Christian scripture as well as positive psychology laboratories. There are certain attributes we can pull from both disciplines in order to begin living a life of greater happiness and fulfillment. Specifically, the emotional propositions reflected in the fruit of the Spirit offer valuable insight and overlap between the two areas. The sermon revolved around how living based on the fruit of the Spirit, as opposed to the fruit of the flesh, provides a chance to experience true peace of mind. The "fruits" include: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All of these ideas can be applied in a psychological sense to increase well-being. To get the most from life and truly blossom and expand as a person we must live by these attributes. For this post I will be focusing on the first 5 "fruits," so be sure to check back for part 2 where the remaining attributes will be discussed.
If there is one thing that psychological research and personal experience will reveal to each and every one of us, it's the positive impact relationships have on our happiness, level of success, and overall well-being. Having healthy relationships means so much for every area of our life. Relationships offer us joy, love, and support in times of need. They also help us expand our aspirations and level of achievement through support, knowledge, and connections. In general, relationships can help us to grow and become better people. So, whether your focus is on intimate and loving relationships, or more professional business relationships, there are certain traits that will make any relationship more meaningful and long-lasting. Commitment - Relationship success and commitment go hand in hand. When we're committed to a relationship we are willing to put in the effort to make it work. It's more likely there will be a plan to stick together, and a growing sense of loyalty and trust can develop. When we're committed to a partner of any kind, there is a dedication and allegiance that provides stable plans and goals for the future.
If we examined the attitudes and behavior of the many successful people through history we would find a lot of similarities. In particular the way they dealt with failure and the faith they had for the future would really stand out as a paramount part of their success. Being able to deal with struggles, staying determined, and expecting the best is not only crucial for mental health, but is necessary for achieving true success and using our full potential. Below are a few traits that are crucial for success in relationships, business, and life in general. Resiliency The ability to bounce back from struggle and surmount difficulty is what resilience is all about. Are you the type of person who is flexible, pliable, and able to roll with the punches when going through a rough patch? Resilience protects us against stress and adversity and allows us to build greater psychological strength.
Has anyone ever told you to "lighten up"? I've heard this before, and often the person telling me was right. It took me a while to realize it, but sometimes the smallest things can get to us overly upset. Don't get me wrong, there will always be situations in life that require us to have serious reflection and take a very responsible and somber perspective. Though, how many times do we approach life with an overly serious attitude, and make mountains out of mole hills? When we make things worse than they are it can become a vicious cycle of awfulizing and terribilizing every set-back we experience. We can get worked up and pushed over the edge from even the slightest offense. Fortunately we can break this cycle. It's time to realistically examine the severity of situations in your life and learn to laugh and find humor in these moments of frustration. Stop putting worry and stress in the place of what could be joyful moments.