Positive Psychology

The 2 Simple Exercises to Positify Your Life Today

Positify means to make positive; to me, it is simplifying concepts of positive psychology for you to implement in your daily lives.  

Practising optimism and adopting changes in your life doesn’t have to be complicated or a huge investment. Coming back to the analogy of your mind as a garden, start by planting the first seed and continue to water it daily. Be patient and consistent, that is the key to flowers blossoming, and how you can thrive in all aspects of your life.

Here I will introduce to you 2 simple exercises that were taught as part of the positive education programme as mentioned in ‘Can Optimism Be Learned?

  1. The ‘3 Good Things’ Exercise
  2. Using Your Signature Strengths

Like any muscle, for it to grow, it requires exercise and dedicated work. In order to build the positive thinking muscle in our mind, we need to retrain new pathways by repeating positive thoughts. We can do this by asking ourselves a simple question each day: 

What are 3 good things that happened today?

It’s a simple yet powerful question that immediately puts you in an empowering mindset that ‘looks for the good’. Our human brains tend to discount the positives and focus on the negative, even if it was just one bad thing that happened during the day. It is an evolved trait to help us dodge danger when our survival in human history was dependant on that (Psychology Today 2003).

That is why we need to put in the extra work and effort to train our minds to grow the positive pathways, instead of letting the habitual negatives dominate. It could be the simplest thing such as having a good lunch or a good walk, as I write about it in my personal reflections here.

Exercise 2: Discovering your character strengths

Next, we look at the inherent character strengths you have as a unique individual and focus on using them as much as possible in your daily lives. A key new idea here is to use them in new ways to overcome challenges; in ways to approach tasks that you normally don’t find as much enjoyment or struggle with.

Much of the work of Positive Psychology involves identifying and cultivating personal strengths, virtues and talents. When we identify our own greatest strengths, we can consciously engage in work and activities that make us feel most confident, productive and valuable.

What are Character Strengths?

Your character strengths are the qualities that come most naturally to you. Every individual possesses all of these 24 character strengths in different degrees, giving each person a unique character strength profile. Research reveals that people who use their strengths a lot are 18x more likely to be flourishing than those who do not use their strengths (VIA Character).

It is also by developing this deep self-awareness that you can find the right work and environment that aligns with your strengths and talents, which in turn allows you to thrive and be fulfilled.

As part of the Positive Psychology research, there has been a derived character strength test which you can take to understand yourself better and identify your greatest strengths. This is provided by the  Positive Psychology Center at University of Pennsylvania whereby Martin Seligman, father of Positive Psychology is directing the programme. (More resources are available for your interest and further reading)  

Once your have identified your top 5 greatest strengths, what’s more important is how we fully utilise them in our daily lives. This will help you move beyond just taking a test and getting the results, but to start taking concrete actions to implement the knowledge.

Using them in New Ways

So for example, my greatest strengths are identified as:

  1. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
  2. Gratitude

You will start to find connections in your identified strengths and passions and hobbies. I realise writing and blogging allows me to practice gratitude, and the work of arranging words and visual in an aesthetically pleasing way comes from my natural love and appreciation for beauty and excellence.

And how do I apply them to my daily life? It could be something as simple as tidying up and decluttering my room. I’m not particularly excited about this task but if I focus on the gained orderliness and pleasant looking room, I feel appreciative of my own efforts and more motivated to do it.

It really is as simple as that.

So what are your top strengths and how will you use them today?