Finding the Brighter Side of Life
The unprecedented action of the Russian invasion into Ukraine has put everyone on alert. Our brains go into alert stage when there is a sense of danger anywhere. In fact, our brains are probably in the alert stage constantly right now. We no longer get through the worst of the pandemic when we are faced with uncontrolled inflation which impacts our every day lives. 24/7 media coverage of the war in Ukraine brings the atrocities right into our homes! And of course, political discussions are supercharged one way or the other. What do we each need to do to survive this chaotic life?
There is a practice of psychology specifically focused on living a positive life. And I have been talking and teaching ways to train our brain to find positivity and joy in our lives. But now we are all in a place where we need some specific information to access when we are feeling very ‘down’. Be clear however, this advice does not take the place of seeing a mental health professional, taking your medications, or practicing self-care. This information is a quick go-to when you are generally feeling bad.
Positive psychology is a branch of psychology focused on the character strengths and behaviors that allow individuals to build a life of meaning and purpose – to move beyond surviving to flourishing. (Psychology Today). After a couple years of the pandemic, escalating inflation, return to work, and now the war in Ukraine, most of us might be having trouble finding our joy. Our brain is in the chronic stress mode which impacts all our physical and cognitive health. Getting through a whole day without turning on the news or expressing our fears about the state of the world seems impossible. However, we owe it to ourselves and our families and friends to find a more positive state of mind. That doesn’t mean that we ignore all these catastrophic things that are happening. It means that we start to each day on a more positive note.
We are energetic beings. When our energy is high, we function much better in the world. I am sure that you have experienced a high energy state at some time in your life. Everything we see and do takes on added meaning and purpose. Then, there are times like we are experiencing now, where everything drains the energy right out of you. It doesn’t matter what we see or do, it is all part of a dark cloud we have created. Everything becomes an effort, and we must push ourselves to finish anything. It just feels like that is where we are right now.
Positive Psychology and the PERMA Model
The PERMA Model provides a template for all of us to think about our lives. Remember that a trained psychologist is equipped to help you attain the benchmarks that the PERMA Model offers. I am providing it because most of us just need to see a template to help us change our thinking.
Positive emotions, or experiencing optimism as well as gratitude about your past, contentment in the present, and hope for the future
Engagement, or achieving “flow” with enjoyable activities and hobbies
Relationship, or forming social connections with family and friends
Meaning, or finding a purpose in life larger than you
Accomplishments, or goals and successes
This model offers strategies for creating a positive lifestyle. Notice that the focus is on you. Outside events can be occurring all around you but if you are concentrating on creating a more positive-centric life the impact won’t be as profound. You are not ignoring these events, but you are better prepared to deal with them. I rarely watch TV news, but I do stay current by reading about all that is going on. My locus of control is within my grasp. Not absorbing all the visual content or listening to unending discourse keeps me in a better state of mind. Gratitude is an everyday practice. Bringing my life back into context is critical to how I react to all the bad news. Finding something to laugh about – at least once a day, makes me feel so much better. There is a group for Golden Retriever Rescue on Facebook. That is a definite go-to in the morning because there is so much joy on that sight. It starts my day off right. CNN has a weekly newsletter called Good Stuff. The articles are heartwarming and positive and allow you to understand that the world is full of positive people and positive actions.
We are the creators of our lives. Living swings from good to not so good. It is up to us to learn how to handle the challenges that life throws at us. Relinquishing control over that which we have no control over, will make our lives easier. WE CAN DO THIS!
Cherry, K. (October 20, 2021). What is positive psychology? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-positive-psychology-2794902
Psychology Today. Positive Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/positive-psychology#:~:text+Positive psychology is a branch.elements of a good life