January… A fresh start of a new year! It’s already up & running for about 3 weeks now. Maybe you’re kicking ass with your new year’s resolutions, maybe you already forgot them…Or didn’t even have new year’s resolutions. If you have them or you don’t, it’s always good to take a deeper look at your life. Are you happy the way it is? Are you satisfied with your lifestyle? Your relationships? Your job?
All those things come back to the fundaments of your being. How do you look at things? What things in life are really fulfilling for you? In this blog I’m going to tell you something about a subject that is closely related to the way you experience life: positive psychology!
When you think about psychology, probably the first words popping up in your mind are “psychologist”, “mental illnesses”, “depression”. Yep, that’s also psychology. Roughly said, “general” psychology is focused on the question “what is wrong with you?” Positive psychology is focused on “what is right with you?”. None of them are right or wrong, they can perfectly function besides each other. General psychology focuses on healing mental illnesses. Positive psychology focuses on developing a satisfying and meaningful life.Fact is, life isn’t always easy! The loss of a beloved one, illnesses or other unfortunate events…life happens to you. You can’t control this. But what you CAN control is how you deal with it. This is where positive psychology comes in. Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman is one of the founders of positive psychology. His theories are built on 5 fundaments: PERMA. I will show you what PERMA stands for:
Positive emotion: A very big part of life satisfaction depends on what you feel. When you’re experiencing positive feelings, you will look back on your past with more satisfaction, look at your future with hope and be grateful for the present. Experiencing positive emotions is also associated with better health, more productivity and successful relationships. Besides that, positive emotions are contagious!
But how could you apply this? How can you just feel happy on command? When something bad happened to you, it’s pretty damn hard to feel positive emotions! The best way to make yourself feel better is to do the things that give you a good feeling. When you feel bad, try to be kind with yourself: do something fun together with your BFFF, take a nice walk in the forest, read a good book, go for an intense work-out session, plan a long & nice kitchen session with a foodie friend… The most important question you should ask is “what makes me happy?” Try to take your chances and try to apply these hobbies/friends/activities in your life on a regular base!
Engagement: This is in strong connection with positive emotions. Engagement is about experiencing “flow”. Flow means that you feel like you are completely absorbed in the moment, which gives you a pleasant feeling. Research shows that these moments of flow are the moments people feel happiest in life. When you are in your flow, you feel powerful, confident and productive. When was the last time you were completely absorbed in your task or activity? What is most satisfying to you?
It’s important to apply these activities in your life on a regular base (just like the things that give you positive emotions!). Since you’re spending most time of the week at your job, it would be great if you feel this flow when you’re working, but also hobbies, sports or other activities are great to give you this flow. Typical for experiencing flow is that the activity costs energy, but gives you a huge boost of energy at the same time! What gives you flow?
Relationships: People are social animals. Staying connected with other people helps us to put things in perspective. Communication certainly can help us to find a certain balance in life. Sharing is caring, either it’s negative or positive. Only sharing your problems, can already be a part of the solution, simply because you are not alone in it anymore. For sharing positive experiences it’s even better: sharing happiness = happiness2!
In any kind of relationship, either it is love or friendship, it’s important that there’s a certain balance. This means in every relationship, 50% is up to you! Realize that you have a big influence on your social network. It’s a balance of giving & taking, talking & listening. Be selective. Keep “energy drainers” away from you and invest in valuable relationships. Oh, and pets actually have a great influence on your happiness as well!
Meaning: Having a higher plan in life also helps you to experience more happiness in life. This could be anything. Religion, family, politics, environmental protection, health (promotion), volunteer work…these are all examples of having a “higher plan in life”. Just ask yourself what things in this world have a big value for you. What things in life would you like to make “life goals”?
I will give an example about myself. I really love helping people to experience that a healthy lifestyle could be fun and doesn’t have to be hard, nor restrictive. I chose to develop myself in this direction and while I was doing this, I met a lot of likeminded people with who I can share my enthusiasm about health. Besides that, as a health coach I see people change. When I’m helping people in their process of becoming a healthier version of themselves, people start to feel fitter, their skin starts to glow and they find out they are capable of way more than they thought they could. How amazing is it to witness their journey? I love it!
Achievement: This is all about goal setting and reaching your goals. Either the process towards your goals as reaching your goals are both very important. We all know this satisfying feeling after successfully finishing a big project at your job/study. It gives you a huge confidence boost! When you feel good about yourself, you are more likely to share your experiences with other people, to help other people and to challenge yourself to try new things. It’s actually a positive circle: the more you reach the goals you set for yourself, the more confident you feel, the more you are open for trying new things which can help you to build new experiences, which on its turn give you more confidence again! This is one of the reasons why working out can help you to build up more confidence ☺
All these factors together have a big influence on your happiness. When you feel balanced, everything in life is a little bit easier. Most important thing in positive psychology is that you can’t enforce feelings of happiness and just think that you “should be happy”. What you CAN do is creating healthy habits that help you to get the best out of life, that make you feel happy.
Remember you can’t influence what happens to you, but with these PERMA-tools you can help yourself to feel better and to get more satisfaction out of life.