Living positive psychology

Some of my blogs have tended to lean towards the academic side of Positive Psychology…..this one however is much more personal in nature…

2015 has been a big year for me. There have been massive changes in my personal circumstances. I have had to rediscover who I am and find a new way of ‘being’.  It’s been challenging at times and downright mentally and physically draining at others. Living the principles of Positive Psychology has helped me to ride the storm. Just as Barbara Fredrickson [1] promises, harnessing more positive emotions has built my resilience and cultivated a growth mindset [2]. Looking for, appreciating and expressing gratitude for the positives in my day, every day, has shown me just how much I have to be thankful for, despite the challenges. The power of altruism in action has worked its magic – offering help and support to those around me when they needed it, and even when they haven’t, has helped me redefine who I am, and the person I want to be. Sharing and celebrating all the successes I’ve had along the way, however small, has reinforced how achievement can rebuild self-esteem.

How friends help

However, nothing has been more crucial in my journey this past 12 months than the support I’ve received from friends and family around me. In the brilliant ‘The Happiness Advantage’ [3], Shawn Achor tells the story of his training in the Texas Fire Service. In the midst of flames, smoke, searing heat and low oxygen levels, his partner was literally his lifeline. His point? To invest in your social network in times of distress, not hide from it, like so many are prone to do when the going gets tough. In ‘Love 2.0’ [4], Barbara Fredrickson highlights how even everyday ‘moments of connection’ – authentic eye contact and a friendly smile – can build ‘social resources’. And the father of PP, Martin Seligman, advocates the building of positive relationships as one of the 5 elements that lead to ‘flourishing’ (the ‘R’ in his PERMA model) [5]. Although advocated by all of these giants of PP, I didn’t need the academic endorsement to understand the value of what I have. The help, love, generosity, ‘shoulders to cry on’ and ‘ears to bend’,  given freely to me by lifelong friends and by those I’ve only got to know relatively recently,  have been my salvation. Without them and their kind patience, I would have surely struggled and maybe would not have been in a balanced enough place to have written these words.

So in a way, this is my ‘gratitude letter’ (a PP exercise whose effectiveness in building positivity has been proven through research time and time again). I am, and always will be eternally thankful for the kindness of others. A little help goes a long way. As humans we are absolutely better together.

[1] Fredrickson, B (2011), Positivity: Groundbreaking Research to Release Your Inner Optimist and Thrive. Oneworld Publications.
[2] See Dweck, C, (2012). Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. Robinson.
[3] Achor, S (2011), The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work. Virgin Books.
[4] Fredrickson, B (2014), Love 2.0: Finding Happiness in Moments of Connection. Plume.
[5] Seligman, M, (2011), Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being – and How To Achieve Them. Nicholas Brealey.

About the author: Nikki Ayles. With a passion for helping people to achieve their potential, Nikki designs and delivers capability development programmes using positive psychology principles and brain-friendly techniques. Nikki is currently expanding to design and deliver positive psychology based interventions which promote individual and employee

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’



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