Just Do It: Practicing Positive PsychologyReturn to latest news
This Fall for our Stay Sharp newsletter, we brought it back to basics and focused on the foundations of Positive Psychology. In keeping with this theme, the following are ways that you can implement some of the core findings of Positive Psychology into your daily life to become a more mindful, grateful and positive leader:
Incorporate gratitude into your everyday routine: You can do this by keeping a gratitude journal. Spending a few moments in the morning noting down a list of 3-4 things that you are grateful for, or positive memories that you look back on with gratitude, can put you in a positive mindset for the day. As humans, we are inherently biased towards over-emphasising negative events in our lives and under-emphasising positive one’s. Combat this with your daily gratitude journaling.
Perform altruistic acts: Research has shown that spending a sum of money on ‘treating’ yourself, splurging or indulging brings hedonistic, immediate, pleasure that quickly fades. However, spending that money or time on treating someone you care about, writing a letter of gratitude to someone who has inspired you, surprising a friend with tickets to a concert they’ll enjoy or paying your mother a visit with a bunch of flowers in hand will have a longer-lasting positive effect on your own mood, as well as boosting the mood of the person that you have helped. Next time you are considering going to get your nails done or buying yourself a designer jacket, consider instead putting money aside and surprising your significant other with a romantic dinner, bringing your best friend a thoughtful card and chocolates, or donating to a charity that you care about. Acts of kindness towards others create tremors of happiness that spread further than you may know.
Practice mindful breathing: The next time that you are on the train to work, instead of pulling out your phone to play a mindless game, or answer emails, take just ten minutes of that time to sit and focus. Put your phone away, look up at the world around you and focus on your breathing. Become aware of the breath entering and leaving your body. Then become aware of the people around you. Smile at a stranger. Disconnect from technology and connect with yourself and those around you. Those emails can probably wait 10 minutes.
Practice mindful eating: Another way to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life is by practicing mindful eating. Mindful eating is a concept that emerged from Buddhist teachings, and is all about conscious awareness of what we are eating, how we are eating and why. The next time that you are sitting down to eat, choose a quiet spot where you can enjoy your meal without distraction. Before eating, take a moment to look at your plate. What does it look like? How does it smell? Take a minute to think about where everything on your plate came from. Now take a bite. Notice how the food feels in your mouth – the texture, the taste, the temperature. Make yourself aware of the sensation of chewing. Become aware of how it feels to swallow, and how your stomach feels now that it is one bite fuller. Continue to connect with your meal in this way. Determine when the meal is finished based on the sensations of your body.
Take the stairs: It can seem like a monumental task to begin to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle if you spend the majority of your day working at a desk. The benefits of exercise can’t be overstated - it boosts your mood, improves your concentration, benefits your lungs, heart and brain..the list goes on. You can start to incorporate exercise into your life with one small change today: take the stairs. We all know the temptation of the elevator. Just one minute walking up stairs burns 9 calories, in addition to all of the other aforementioned benefits. Small changes add up. Start today. Take the stairs - Just do it!
I hope that these examples of how you can incorporate Positive Psychology findings into your everyday routine will enable you to become more present in the moment and more focused on the positives in your life. Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can be enlightening - don't allow yourself to go through life disconnected from the present moment, experience it!
Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar