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  • Sayyeda Datoo

Don't Worry Be Positive

How focusing on the positive leads to a fulfilled life.

You can save and download this image as a helpful guide to thinking positively.

How many times have you paid more attention to negative experiences over positive ones?

I have always thought that well-being is about finding out 'what’s wrong with me?'. However, it's quite the opposite, it's about understanding 'What’s right with me? What do I do well?' which helps to recognise strengths and use them to improve ourselves and others.

As a HR Services Advisor at Vodafone during my performance reviews, I found myself highlighting my weaknesses over my strengths. As humans we are wired to find and resolve 'problems' within the world, society and within us. However, using positive psychology tools you can promote the positives, not correct negatives.

With that in mind, think about the last time someone complimented you? How did that make you feel? Did you feel more positive about your job, your work, felt more engaged and valuable?

Using the five pillars developed by Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, you can understand where positive feelings stem from and learn how to adapt them into your daily life.

Positive Emotions (P)

Think about what three things happened today that were good?

Things that bring you hope, compassion, inspiration, love and gratitude.

Positive emotions are a central indicator of success and we can rewire our brain to seek out positive emotions (Fredrickson, 2001).

There are many ways that you can access positive emotions:

  • Spending time with those you care about.

  • Doing activities that you enjoy (nurturing hobbies).

  • Creating a reflective journal to write down three good things that happen each day and a reason why you think they did. You can go as small or as big as you would like. This will enable you to recognise what went well in your day and dissecting the good over the bad that happened.

The basis of nurturing positive emotions is to recognise how you can enjoy yourself in this moment.

Engagement (E)

Reflect on what activities you love and how you made time for it?

Csikszentmihalyi (1989) came up with the concept of "flow", which includes the decrease in self-consciousness and complete absorption in an activity.

This level of flow can be reached when there is a perfect combination of challenge and skill/strength is found.

The ways you can increase engagement:

  • Identify your strengths, and do things that you excel at.

  • Find activities you really love, where you feel lighter and lose track of time.

  • Try not to live in the past or future but be present in the moment, even during mundane tasks.

  • Embrace nature- watching, listening, and observing what happens around you.

Relationships (R)

How are you nurturing your relationships at work?

Are you feeling loved, supported and valued by those around you or those you work with?

How to build relationships:

  • Do something unexpectedly kind for someone.

  • Join a class or group that interests you.

  • Ask questions of the people you don’t know well to find out more about them.

  • Create friendships with people you are acquainted with.

  • Get in touch with people you have not spoken to or connected with in a while.

Meaning (M)

Think of a project you're working on and why you're doing it?

We are all on a journey in the search for our meaning so we can find our value and worth. Meaning as defined by Seligman is a sense of belonging and/or serving something greater than ourselves.

We all understand what we have to do and how to do it but not WHY we do it. If we personally believe our work is worthwhile, there is an overall sense of well-being.

Ways to build meaning:

  • Finding out what causes or organisations matters to you.

  • Try new, creative activities to find things you connect with.

  • Think about how you can use your passions to help others.

  • Spend quality time with people you care about.

Accomplishments (A)

What goals did you set in the year and which of those did you achieve?

Accomplishments make us persevere and have motivation to attain our goals.

However, accomplishments only have a positive impact on well-being when they have an internal motivation (Intrinsic goals) (Quinn, 2018).

Ways to celebrate accomplishment:

  • Creating SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound).

  • Reflection on past projects and attitudes

  • Look for creative ways to celebrate your achievements.

These five elements PERMA are essential to begin our well-being journey. They unlock our potential and help to build a happy and flourishing life. Not only can positive psychology tools be adapted into individuals lives but can also greatly benefit organisations to ensure employees are engaged and productive.

For details on how our programmes can support you and your business visit our services.


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