Positive Psychology: Gratitude, Affirmations, and Experiences - The Life You Love

Positive Psychology: Gratitude, Affirmations, and Experiences

Let's pretend I know a little bit about history.  Way way back (and actually, even right now), psychology and mental health was discussed in terms of what was wrong and how those wrong things could be treated.  Positive psychology, however, looks at the person's skills, strengths, and interests to  help the person create meaning and purpose in their lives.  Positive psychology doesn't replace traditional therapy, but rather it accentuates it and helps you further improve.

Today, I want to talk about a couple positive psychology techniques that you can try ASAP.  Yep, you can even toss aside your laptop and go try them right after you finish this post.  Some of them may be familiar to you, as positive psychology techniques have become pretty popular in the past few years.  You may have tried them before, you may have thought they were too cheesy to try.  What I ask is that you give them a chance before you decide whether or not they are for you.

positive affirmations

YEP.  I want you to make, "I am..." statements and say nice things about yourself.  Why?  Because positive self-affirmations have been shown to help with stress, negative thoughts, self-esteem, optimism, and other areas related to mental health.  If you prefer good ol' fashioned pen and paper, I recommend putting a list of affirmations somewhere where you will see them.  You can write them on the mirror, leave a list on your desk, put a list in your purse... wherever is best for you.  If you like technology, I recommend setting silent alarms on your phone or downloading an app like I Am.  My favorite app ever, Insight Timer, also has recorded meditations that focus on positive affirmations.

gratitude

If Ariana can make a song publicly thanking her exes for what they taught her, you can take a couple minutes each day to share what you're thankful for.  It doesn't have to be anything huge or life-altering... you can literally be thankful for your morning cup of coffee and the leggings you've worn for 3 days in a row.  This is such an easy practice to begin and eventually, you'll find yourself expressing gratitude during the smallest moments.  Pull out a notebook and write down 3-5 things that you are thankful for or that you appreciate.  Or use an app like 365 Gratitude.  I like this app because it also includes prompts for journaling and you can track your mood.

accumulating positive experiences

I'm borrowing this one from my time as an intern, when I learned Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  One of the emotion regulation skills, which I'm going to break down to its simplest terms, is to plan positive events and then mindfully participate in them.  Positive events can be literally anything that makes you feel happiness or other positive emotions, like drinking a cup of tea, reading, seeing a friend, visiting your favorite store... seriously, anything that contributes to your happiness!  It's basically making time for yourself and practicing self-care.  The catch is that you need to do the activity mindfully for it to be effective.  You really need to focus just on what you're doing and participate in it fully.  If you're someone who struggles to do things for yourself, put it on your to do list and schedule it.  If you aren't taking care of yourself, you'll eventually burn out and won't be able to give life your all.

And there you have it - three positive psychology techniques you can practice right now and every day!  Research has shown that all of these techniques are good for your mental, emotional, and even physical health (yep, it can help with pain!).  You have nothing to lose by trying one or all of them, and I can't wait to see how you practice them.

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