Positive Psychology / Positive Thinking
Abe Lincoln once remarked, "Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be."
Did you ever read the story called "The Little Engine That Could" (amazon.com)? If so, you probably remember the words "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."
I've always believed in positive thinking, it always has felt right in my heart. It is a loving action that affects yourself as well as those around you. Finally, it's been scientifically proven that it makes sense! For example, science has shown that positive emotions are healthier for you then negative emotions. In addition, positive emotions help you move forward in life, not unlike the "I think I can" mantra that helped "the little engine that could" overcome a seemingly impossible task. On the flip side, if you google the effects of negative thinking (google), there are many pages that provide lists of the emotional and physical costs of negative thinking.
Using a simple analogy, what do you think would happen if you exercised only your left arm and not your right arm? The answer, of course is that your left arm would get stronger and your right would be weaker. Well the brain works in a similar manor. Negativity creates more and "stronger" negative neuron paths in your brain, causing you to think more negatively.
Yet many traditional therapies, in a general sense, try to remove the negative effects of an emotional wound by focusing on the issue, and working through it.
Not long ago, I learned about (upenn.edu) the Authentic Happiness (upenn.edu) website that provides many great free resources where people can learn about Positive Psychology. The website was developed by the Positive Psychology Center (upenn.edu). Dr. Martin Seligman (upenn.edu) is the Director of the Center, and a Professor of Psychology at Penn.
Dr. Seligman was interviewed in this TVO program video (youtube). If I correctly apply the concepts in the video (youtube), he would say that working out a negative experience (like grief work if you lost a loved one) can take us say from a "-8" to a "-2", with the best hope of 0 on the emotional scale, but it does not make us happy, for that is a separate mechanism.
If instead more energy and time is spent learning and practicing Authentic Happiness, you could have a better life. For example, focusing on Authentic Happiness can take you from a "+2" to a "+5", which implies a more positive emotional scale.
Another way to look at this is to think of two batteries, one negative and one positive that sit side by side representing the feelings about an event. Traditional therapy would work on discharging the negative battery, or feelings about the event. However, what if you focused all your energy on charging up the positive battery, to make it a more powerful charge then the negative battery. The net charge would be a positive outcome, and focusing on the positive is a more joyful experience.
Dr. Seligman does not deny the grief work, but he is advocating spending more time learning and practicing how to be positive and having Authentic Happiness. The teachings at the Authentic Happiness (upenn.edu) website make sense to me, and there are many great pages to read!
One of the great pages in the Positive Psychology Center (upenn.edu) is the PERMA Theory (upenn.edu) page. The section titled "PERMA. Theory of Well-Being" describes the "five building blocks that enable flourishing . Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment." Within the page, you can read each of the building blocks, and see which one(s) you may best benefit from. That is, consider which combination will bring you the greatest well-being and good feelings. This can give you a starting direction. Also, consider checking out within the PERMA Theory (upenn.edu) page, the section "The Benefits of Well-Being."
There is so much more that could be written on this topic, but for now I invite you to consider:
Researching Authentic Happiness and Positive Psychology Center, as
THEY ARE EXCELLENT RESOURCES!
I also invite you to consider writing the following and always keep it with you to reread: