Martin Seligman is working on a new book, Flourish: A new understanding of happiness and well-being – and how to achieve them. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of his soon to be published pathways to happiness from this book, which are encapsulated in the acronym PERMA: Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment.
I thought it would be interesting to unpack these pathways, one a time, as blog entries to explore how these pathways can lead us to be happy. (These entries can also be found on our FB site's Discussions page.)
So we start off by taking a look at the P of PERMA -
The emotion that I have now is the direct result of the choices I made previously. If I am angry, I can choose to hold on to my anger or I can shrug it off and move on. If I feel sad, I can choose to focus on what or who made me sad and I can continue contemplating my sadness for the rest of the day, or I can deliberately focus on something more positive, and move on from the negative emotions. Personally I find that no matter how negative I feel, I can always focus on something good by doing one of the following:
* listening to music I enjoy;
* reading a good book or re-reading a poem or even an article that made me laugh,
* enjoying an aromatic cup of coffee - preferably with someone I like;
* stroking the soft fur of one of my pets or letting my fingers trail over the lush feel of silk;
* thinking back to a happy time in my life, like that amazing concert I attended or the unforgettable holiday our family had a few years ago;
* looking at inspiring works of art or photos of art;
* dancing, walking, swimming - doing stuff that push up my pulse rate and make my feel alive;
* giving or receiving a hug from someone I care for;
* ticking an item off my to do list that has been sitting there for too long;
* talking to a friend who really needs a pep talk;
* wearing an item of clothing in a colour that really suits me;
* smiling at strangers and getting the odd smile back;
doing someone an unexpected favour; and so on.
It is possible, with very little effort, to redirect one's own negative thoughts and to focus on something that gives you joy. Thinking joyful thoughts is a habit that can be learned, just the same way we sometimes learn to think about negative stuff. What is so cool about thinking positive stuff is that it really allows one to take charge of one's thoughts. Now that is cool! My thoughts, my power to choose to be happy!! That must be what the clever folks mean when they say we have to take charge of our lives... I feel pretty empowered and energised just writing about it, imagine how good you will feel if you go give it a try. And then come write a post on this wall to let us know if it worked for you.
We'll be back with some chit chat about the E in PERMA - Engagement (or being in the Flow).