This article is about how Positive Psychology (the latest science in Psychology on how we can be at our best) can help shift our approach to Wellbeing.
I feel when I talk to mothers and fathers about wellbeing, a lot of the time they switch to telling me what is wrong with them and what they need to do to get to normal. Now, that’s good thing that people are talking more and I am not saying there isn’t value in helping people get back to normal. In fact, it’s a very important thing, but I am saying we are missing out on so many aspects of how we could bring ourselves joy and happiness through the latest research and science of Positive Psychology.
I am not saying be happy all the time and I am not encouraging some kind of fake positive thinking approach because frankly that is total rubbish… being positive or faking a smile when you don’t feel positive or smiley is not healthy and is simply suppressing emotions. The amount of people I speak to who do not understand positive psychology and think it’s about being happy all the time is incredible; it is totally not!
What I am encouraging is that we have a lot more choice over how we feel and what we do in our lives. We can and will experience both positive and negative emotions and they are both right and valid. Positive psychology encourages us to leverage positive emotion in our lives because it helps fill our cups, give our brains fuel, charge our batteries, or however you want to look at it. Positive psychology also encourages Mindfulness as Mindfulness can help us to deal with our emotions, especially if we are experiencing a negative one in an emotionally intelligent way and ask ourselves what we need to do.
I hear so many people say to me it’s about being happy all the time and I feel I am constantly saying ‘No, it’s not!’ I feel for this reason, it sometimes gets labelled as something that is happy clappy or unrealistic, the truth is Positive Psychology is the most latest research and neuroscience about what helps us be at our best, live our best lives, have the best brain possible. Because it is so new in the scheme of things (well I first heard about it in 2012, so not that ‘new’, but in the scheme of psychology and wellbeing research, it is ‘new’) it is still finding its feet, still being labelled as part of something else, self-help, and goal setting. I hear stress workshops being created… I cringe… what sort of brain pathways do you think you are creating if you focus on what being stressed is all about? Mindfulness is really important as it can help us deal with the more negative emotions and help ourselves in a more emotionally intelligent way.
Mindfulness is a necessity in today’s world where we have no downtime. It’s becoming an absolutely necessity to have these brain pathways; we simply can’t focus. We are constantly training ourselves to do the opposite all the time: scrolling through social media on your phone in front of the TV; watching Facebook videos while we are doing the washing up, and listening to podcasts and audio books in the car. It’s no wonder when we lay down to sleep we can’t always switch off and wind down. We just simply don’t know how to do it.
I also think we are looking at wellbeing wrong not only due to the focus on what is wrong and seeing it as a gap, but also this is about resilience. Research has shown that resilience is not just about what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. By making sure we have levels of positive emotion and of joy in our lives, we will have stronger neural networks for these things. In addition, when we practise Mindful, we can more easily pull on resources when we need them the most allowing us to more easily switch off, have down time, and sleep. Waiting until we are depleted of these things is not the right time to then build them up. If you are good, get yourself to great! Just because you don’t feel the pain of stress, feeling like a failure, anxiety, lack of sleep, lack of focus, it does not mean you don’t need to act. We are all worthy of being great and experiencing joy in our lives rather than just being ‘okay’ and getting back to the ‘okay’ level. If you do feel the pain of these things, that’s even more reason to do it, but in a way that focuses on the gratitude, the strengths the things you have that are working rather than what’s not working or ‘broken’ and needs fixing. In this way, you create more great chemicals like Dopamine in your brain, which are not just getting you back to ‘ok’, they are getting you to great! And flourishing!
If you would like to know science-backed methods of improving your productivity, focus or wellbeing, get in touch and I can help. Even if you’d simply like to share your thoughts on this article, please do reach out.
Reach me at www.thehappinessbranch.com
Gemma.Sandwell@thehappinessbranch.comor on the socials!