During the first couple of years of my retirement transition I explored Positive Psychology and worked on becoming a more positive, optimistic person. (Yes, I was a highly critical pessimist! Yes, optimism can be learned.) I choose to be more positive because in my retirement life vision I wanted to be happy. As I explored it further, the tools and practices related to positivity & happiness also correlate to health & longevity. So it became an even bigger impetus to be more optimistic.
Early in the pandemic, I took a wonderful on-line course on the Science of Well-being (highly recommended, here’s my blog post link). This course supported many of the lifestyle practices I had put into place in my retirement transition. The course also made me acknowledge that I have always wanted to understand psychology better, so I have continued to take on-line courses in this arena.
I recently completed a Positive Psychology course (Coursera again – link here) led by Martin EP Seligman who is the “father” of Positive Psychology. It was fascinating to hear about Positive Psychology from the leader in the field. While there was not a huge amount of new applicable information, there are some nuggets I’d like to share. While taking the course, I also found a website on flourishing, another positive psychology term. (Synchronicity? Site link here) Some of these insights have been synthesized into the nuggets I’m sharing, as well.
I have come to realize that my retirement lifestyle choices are all about putting Positive Psychology into practice! I am attempting to infuse Positive Psychology tools into my daily living as well as build a Positive Psychology mind set and skill set. I’m beginning to believe that by enjoying the journey of living Positive Psychology (putting it into practice, being optimistic), the changes in me will impact the world around me. (And perhaps this is my purpose?)
While the previous course on the Science of Well-being highlighted a number of tools, this more recent course had 4 Critical Well-Being Interventions:
- Daily write down 3 Gratitude/blessings
- Use your Strengths – design your life to use your strengths more
- Use Active & Constructive Communication (responsive listening)
- Have a Life of Meaning/Life Purpose – a purposeful existence via philanthropy/altruism
The new learning here was the idea of responsive listening in building stronger relationships. There are 4 approaches to listening:
- Active & Constructive = enthusiastic and supportive (recommended)
- Passive & Constructive = Understated support, low energy (most common)
- Active & Destructive = point out negatives, dismissive (second most common)
- Passive & Destructive = Ignore, disinterest
While I recognized the most common listening and responding approaches when I’m being listened to (or ignored), I wasn’t sure if my own approach was the recommended Active & Constructive! Slightly different than active listening, active & constructive has a sense of celebration of the individual. This is something I need to be more aware of (and work on, I am sure).
On the Flourishing site, there was a lot of information about Positive Psychology Skills Development broken down into mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual skills. Here are some of my insights from there (i.e. skills I will personally be working on):
- Mental Skills – master your thoughts and shift self-limiting beliefs
- Shift Judgment: to curiosity or compassion or acceptance
- Stop Criticism of Self and Others; Stop “Compare & Despair”
- Face Fear with Action – Shift from worrier to warrior
- Emotional Skills
- Emotional Awareness – accept the negative, work towards the positive
- Daily Gratitude – always one of the top tools for optimism & happiness.
- Courageousness – risk taking, turn “someday I will “ into action
- Physical Skills – achieve functional fitness and resilience
- Strength & Flexibility – continue yoga, strength training
- Daily Movement & Breath Work – create daily habits
- Ensure Body Maintenance – nutrition, sleep, checkups in place
- Spiritual Skills
- Sense of Belonging – continue intentional connections
- Quality of Connections – Active & Constructive communication
- Sense of Purpose – explore philanthropy/altruism
While I would continue to recommend the Science of Well-Being course first if you are interested in this topic, my latest exploration, including The Flourishing Center site, has definitely boosted my sense of how I can actively put Positive Psychology into practice.
Since we all claim to want to be happier, are you building your own Positive Psychology skills?
Photo: me – a sunset this week, from our front yard.