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3 research-based approaches to cultivating a positive mindset

15 June, 2021

Positive thoughts boost your mood, spirit and tend to generate even more positivity and happiness in your life. In reverse, negative thoughts can create a domino effect of destructive energy, and falling into a spiral of negativity affects how you live your life. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to accept the negative thoughts and internal chatter. You can choose to switch to positive perception and reach for healthier, positive thoughts. It takes practice, but soon enough, your mind will move towards more positivity.

In positive psychology, there are two main types of wellbeing: Hedonic and Eudaimonic. 

Hedonic wellbeing: refers to a high level of positive emotion and life satisfaction. Simply put, hedonic wellbeing you achieve by attaining pleasure and avoiding pain; an example is winning or losing. 

Eudaimonic wellbeing: involves feelings of self-acceptance, growth, mastery, life purpose, autonomy, and positive relationships with others. Eudaimonic wellbeing is the joy and contentment that comes from the pursuit of meaningful fulfilment. 

A person who wins a race, for example, experiences hedonic wellbeing. In contrast, the glowing feeling of joy a person might experience after a deep meditation session represents eudaemonic wellbeing. These wellbeing types are essential components of happiness and positivity as they complement one another to create a balanced life.

Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, put together what he calls the Wellbeing Theory, also known as the PERMA model. 

P Positive emotions

E Engagement 

P Positive relationships

M Meaning

A Accomplishment 

According to Seligman, PERMA is an acronym for the five areas of wellbeing:

P – Positive Emotions: Experiencing positive emotion – enjoying yourself in the moment. 

E – Engagement: To be completely absorbed in something you enjoy, you thrive and excel at (I would refer this to getting into your creative flow!)

R – (Positive) Relationships: Humans are social beings; we rely on connection with others to flourish. Having deep, meaningful, supportive relationships with others is vital to our wellbeing. 

M – Meaning: Finding meaning in life, dedicating yourself to something bigger than yourself. 

A – Accomplishment / Achievement: We all thrive when we’re succeeding, achieving goals, and bettering ourselves, we need the drive to accomplish and achieve authentic wellbeing. 

This model gives us a framework for understanding wellbeing and as a foundation for improving our wellbeing. If you’re looking to experience more positivity and enhance your sense of authentic happiness, here are the five things that can help you:

  1. Experience more positive emotions by doing more of the things that make you happy, commit to bring enjoyment into your daily routine.
  2. Increase your engagement by pursuing hobbies that interest you, developing your skills, looking for a job more suited to your passions, or doing more of the work you enjoy.
  3. Improve the quality of your social circle, work on building more positive and supportive relationships with your inner circle. 
  4. Seek out meaning; if you don’t find it through your work, look at volunteering, hobbies, sports or use your field of expertise to mentor others.
  5. Keep focus on achieving your goals (if you don’t have any, set and commit goals that will bring joy and a sense of accomplishment into your life). Remember to keep your ambition in balance with all of the other essential things in your life.

According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, another positive psychology researcher states that you cultivate a positive mindset by being open, curious, kind, appreciative, and genuine. 

Open: try out new experiences, be willing to consider others’ perspectives, ask questions and search for information that challenges your beliefs. 

Curious: self-motivated, loves to learn, stays in the moment, asks questions, listens without judgment. 

Kind: to be friendly, generous, and considerate of others’ feelings, experiences, views, and beliefs.  

Appreciative: cultivate an attitude of abundance, be optimistic, to experience gratitude. 

Genuine: forge your own path, don’t try to make people like you, don’t pass judgment, not driven by ego, trustworthy, and not motivated by material things. 

Consider and write down how you can embody these qualities more in your day-to day-life. 

We can’t be happy every second of the day, and we shouldn’t expect this either, but we can learn to embrace life with a positive attitude; this will open the door to experience more positive emotions.

To learn more, listen to episodes #11 The only limit is your mind: mindset training for positive thinking and #13 Dealing with negative thoughts on The Heidi Jones Coaching Podcast

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