Have you ever wondered why some people seem to attract more success and happiness into their lives than others? Were they just born lucky or is it destiny?
Psychologists would argue that happiness is not so much something that just “happens” to us but something we can actively create. In fact, there are many simple tools that we can use in our daily lives to set ourselves up for success. The best part: They don't cost anything, they are available to everyone and they are simple yet effective.
What is Positive Psychology?
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous
Positive psychology has been described in many ways. A popular definition says: Positive psychology is the study of the positive aspects of the human experience that make life worth living.
Positive psychology focuses on:
- Positive experiences
- Positive states and traits
- Positive institutions (applying positive principles within entire organizations and institutions).
Originally the term positive psychology dates back at least to 1954, when Abraham Maslow's first edition of the book Motivation and personality was published with a final chapter titled "Toward a Positive Psychology." But some researchers argue that positive psychology has a much longer history.
In the 1980ies the concept of positive psychology was picked up by American psychologist Martin Seligman. He is considered the pioneer of Positive Psychology as we know it today.
There are many ways how you can benefit from the findings of Positive Psychology. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude - a central aspect of positive psychology - increased the self-esteem of athletes.
Another study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being in 2011 found that writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep.
Expressing gratitude is also linked to better relationships, more successful careers and leadership skills.
In fact, there is probably not a single area of life that is not influenced positively by gratitude. It is like shifting gears.
The best part: Just a few simple yet powerful exercises can have a tremendous effect on your life. They might seem trivial at first, but if you stick to the routine you´ll probably be surprised by positive results.
3 Easy Exercises for more Happiness
1) Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal is much more than just a diary. It is a powerful tool that can help you improve your physical and mental health, deepen your relationships and increase positivity in your life.
Keeping a gratitude journal is easy and on the simplest level it involves making a note of the things that you are grateful for that day. It's up to you how long you make your list, how much you want to go into detail or whether you write your journal in the mornings after waking up or in the night before going to bed. Just find a system that works best for you and try to make it a daily routine.
What are the changes that you can expect?
By focusing on the positive aspects, even small ones, you will soon notice that your outlook on life will change. Maybe you´ve been frustrated with your job or your family situation and start valuing things you never noticed before. Maybe you will start appreciating people in your life more or just feel more contentment.
Just give it a try and let the magic unfold.
2) Vision Board
Does a vision board sound just woo-woo?
According to positive Psychology it makes total sense to visualize positive outcomes. Why? Because it works!
A vision board can help you get clear about the things you want in life and stay more focused and motivated while moving towards your goals.
What you need:
- poster board
How it works:
- Get some magazines and cut out ANYTHING that makes you happy or catches your eye. Images of nature, a house or a pet... that's totally up to you! Maybe there's a color that you love right away or that glamorous dress. Make a big pile of images and phrases and words.
- Go through the magazine cutouts and start assembling them on your board. You could even tell a visual story if you like.
- Glue everything onto the board. Add writing if you want.
- Place your vision board in a prominent, visible location to act as a daily reminder and motivation.
Many people who have tried vision boards have later been surprised how many things they had visualized actually became true later.
3) Changing the perspective
Have you had experiences that first felt painful or disappointing but later turned out to be a blessing in disguise? Now it is time to start remembering exactly these types of experiences.
Consider a moment in your life when a negative event led to positive consequences that you were not expecting.
This is a great journaling exercise that you can repeat regularly, even daily if you wish. It will help you look at your past in a more positive light.
Add happiness hacks to your daily life
The science behind positive psychology shows that we have the power to change our lives. We might not be able to change our reality - like the current corona pandemic - but we can change our focus and eventually how we see life and ourselves.
By implementing small science-backed happiness hacks, you'll be smiling again in no time.
Are you interested to learn more?
Here are some of our book recommendations:
Shawn Achor: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of positive psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work
Martin Seligman:Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment
Barbara Fredrickson: Positivity: Groundbreaking Research To Release Your Inner Optimist And Thrive