Four Things I Wish I’d Known Years Ago. Life-Changing Insights from Positive Psychology
When I think about all I’ve learned on my journey into Positive Psychology these past 9 years, I realize how much I’ve changed because of it. If I had to boil it all down to the top insights that have impacted me, it would be these four concepts.
1. Getting stuck in negative thoughts is normal.
Let’s be honest. Work can be hard! There can be too much to do. Sometimes there are issues with other people; our co-workers, our bosses, our customers. At home, we can have challenges with our finances, our health, our family, etc. The list goes on, so it’s easy for us to spend a lot of time dwelling on, remembering, and anticipating all the bad stuff. I learned that this is a normal response that has a lot to do with our survival instinct to keep ourselves safe. The problem is we can get stuck in these negative thoughts.
2. Our thoughts drive our emotions, moods, and actions.
I also learned that our thoughts are a driving force in many parts of our lives. Dwelling on the negative things in our world (and in our day) impact our moods, what we say and do, our relationships, our happiness, etc. It can eat away at our well-being both physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the kind of focus where we’re making plans on how to fix the bad stuff. The type of worrying and dwelling that I’m talking about has no benefit at all!
3. We have a choice. We don’t have to stay in negative thoughts.
So why do we do ruminate on things that feel unfair or unwanted? Why don’t we stop and use that time and energy for something useful that can make our lives better? For many of us, it’s because we don’t even realize we’re doing it. It becomes a habit – seeing the world through this negative filter. Some of us realize it’s happening, but we don’t know what we can do about it. And others may think we can’t change.
Positive Psychology taught me that we have a choice. We have the ability to override our survival instinct and shift our thoughts to find more positivity so we don’t get stuck.
4. There are practices we can do to make that choice easier
Just imagine how our quality of life, happiness, and everyday experiences could change if we would just spend a few minutes a day paying attention to our thoughts and noticing when we need to choose better. I was super excited to discover that research in Positive Psychology is finding many helpful practices, but we each need to experiment to see what works for us, our situation, and our personality.
Which insight do you find the most helpful?