Sin, N.L, Lyubomirsky, S.,(2009). Enhancing well‐being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice‐friendly meta‐analysis Journal of clinical psychology 65 (5), 467-487.
Lyubomirsky, S., & Layous, K. (2013). How do simple positive activities increase well-being? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 57-62.
Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803-855.
Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“I received a full scholarship to study abroad” but can still be important “My professor told me he liked my essay.”
Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?” For example, “My professor complimented me on my essay because I worked extra hard.”
"Participants who counted blessings rated their life as a whole and their expectations for the future more positively than those who simply reflected on daily events or hassles." (Emmons & McCullough, 2003)
3goodthings.me is a free resource through Facebook which allows you to post your good things each day (it can be private so that nobody can see it or it can be public)
Emmons, R.A.; McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), Feb 2003, 377-389.
Emmons, R. A., & Stern, R. (2013). Gratitude as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(8), 846-855. DOI: 10.1002/jclp.22020
In his book Flourish, University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman explains that helping others can improve our own lives:
“We scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”
Lara Aknin states that “The practical implications of this positive feedback loop could be that engaging in one kind deed would make you happier, and the happier you feel, the more likely you are to do another kind act,”
Buchanan, K. E., & Bardi, A. (2010). Acts of kindness and acts of novelty affect life satisfaction. The Journal of Social Psychology,
Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness:
A counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 361-375.
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General
Psychology, 9(2), 111.
Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W., & Norton, M. I. (2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between
prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(2), 347-355.
"To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and
use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others."
(This week, you can choose 2 out of 3 challenges!)
Active listening is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the
words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to
understand the complete message being sent. Oftentimes,
we find ourselves distracted or thinking about our own response, rather than fully listening.
Active listening is mainly a technique in which one basically paraphrases what the other person has said to make sure that they fully understand what they are saying. Use this in your life to become a better communicator, have better relationships, and avoid misunderstandings!
In active listening, one needs to participate in the conversation by doing the following:
Now that you have the basics, the challenge for you is to try these techniques out the next time you’re having a conversation with a friend!
Get away from it for a while—take a short break if you are feeling overwhelmed with the task or situation. This way you will come back relaxed, refreshed, and ready to attack the problem. Do whatever works best for you. Examples: take a short walk, listen to your favorite song, call a friend, take a shower.
Make a plan/make a list—usually when we feel overwhelmed it is because there seems to be so many things to do. So write them all down. Make a list of the tasks that have to be completed. From this list, make a realistic plan and prioritize your tasks.
Ask for help—sometimes it helps to just talk to someone about feeling stressed. Remember, it is okay to ask for help and others are more than likely to want to help out!
Practice relaxation techniques—slow, deep breathing will help you to relax by bringing your heart rates back to normal. You can try meditating or counting backwards or even visualize yourself accomplishing the task at hand.
Watch this TED talk above (19 minutes) and then type up response on how you can use this information in order to be more compassionate with something you are trying to work on.
Think of a situation in your life that is difficult, that is causing you stress. Call the situation to mind, and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body.
Now, say to yourself:
This is a moment of suffering
(That’s mindfulness) Other options include: This hurts, this is stressful, I am having a hard time, etc
Suffering in a part of life
(That’s common humanity) Other options include: I’m not alone, We all struggle in our lives, Other people feel this way.
Now, put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the
gentle touch of your hands on your chest.
Say to yourself:
May I be kind to myself
You can also repeat something like:
This practice can be used any time of day or night, and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion when you need it most.
Challenging negative thoughts is a habit that can really make a positive impact in your life
It is not surprising to learn that our beliefs about the causes and impact of events are often based on inaccurate thinking patterns. Luckily, there are some ways to challenge our initial beliefs about a situation!
Ask yourself these questions and see how it changes your attitude! (It may help to write the answers down)
"Who caused the problem? Who is actually responsible? Me? Not me?
What is true in this case? What evidence do I have to support my belief?
What aspects of the situation can be controlled? What parts of the situation can I actually do something about?
This type of questioning encourages you to use the influence you have, which enhances your belief in your ability to steer through challenging situations."
"How long will this problem last? Always or not always? Is this stress really going to last forever? Can I see an end to this stress?"
"How much of my life will this problem affect? Is this stress really going to affect everything in my life? What areas will not be affected?
It's easier to bounce back when we look for the specific areas of our lives that are affected by the stress, because then the situation feels less overwhelming and more controllable." (Pearson, 2006)
Research show sthat those who participate in the Best Possible Self activity show greater positive affect (more joyful and pleased) compared to those who do not. (Boehm, 2011) This exercise also boosts hope and optimism.
What to do:
Example: “In my social life, I will include time for friends and family, while still being able to balance my work and school. Ideally, I will do this by making sure I keep in touch with my parents by calling them each morning. I will stick to my word when making plans with friends because I know how valuable time is…”
Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: the effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing
best possible selves. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 73-82.
Meevissen,Y. M. C., Peters, M. L., & Alberts, H. J. E. M. (2011). Become more optimistic by imagining a best possible self: Effects of a two week intervention. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42, 371-378.
Boehm,J. K., Peterson, C., Kivimaki, M., & Kubzansky, L. (2011). A Prospective Study of Positive Psychological Well-Being and Coronary
Heart Disease. Health Psychology : Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 30(3), 259–267.
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Research shows that there are many benefits of being mindful, including: Shapiro et. al (2006)
Shapiro, S.L, Carlson, L.E., Astin, J.A, Freedman, B.,(2006), Mechanisms of Mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology. Volume 62, Issue 3, 373-386. 10.1002/jclp.20237
Greeson, J. M. (2009). Mindfulness research update: 2008. Complementary health practice review.