Dr. Martin Seligman is a pioneer in the new (1998) field of positive psychology. Until then, western psychology was primarily focused on fixing what was wrong.
My meditation teacher encouraged us to “enjoy what there is to enjoy, not suffer what there is to suffer” and to “strengthen our strengths and the weaknesses will take care of themselves”.
My sense through working with myself and others is that we do need to work directly with trauma stored in our body. We work with a mindfulness based inquiry that gives a structure and support for this. We use simple tools like tapping, tracing and changing our focus.
From my 20 years of teaching meditation and yoga, I know the value of restoring health and resilience in our nervous system through breathing, relaxation, knowing ourselves, working directly with unhelpful mental patterns like catastrophic thinking, and in cultivating kindness and compassion.
We need a grounded, connected foundation to be healthy. Positive psychology practices can be a wonderful part of that.
Check out Dr Seligman’s website for free tests on strength and resilience and for research into happiness. If we’re going to go down a rabbit hole on the internet, this is a fun and interesting one! https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/
Choose one of the strengths listed below that you feel you possess. If you have trouble, imagine a good friend looking through the list. What would they choose for you?
Bring to mind a time when you used that strength. Who was there? What was happening? Notice the images in detail including setting, body language, the look on someone’s face. What was spoken? As you vividly recreate the scene, stay grounded in your body and breath. Take your time with it then do the same with one or two more examples of when you exhibited this same strength.
Now let those memories recede and contemplate how you could bring this strength into action in your life in a different way. One example: Do you always treat others with kindness and unleash an inner critic on yourself? Could you apply the patience you have for others to yourself?
Go through the visualization again, staying connected with your body and breath, and allowing yourself to really feel into it. See it clearly. Hear the words. Feel the energy of it in your body.
This week, look for opportunities to use your strength in this new way. I always love to hear from you – email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to join us in the Strong Resilient Mind class, it’s not too late. (Details here)
Here is the list of signature strengths. You can take the test free here.
Appreciation of beauty and excellence
Bravery and valor
Capacity to love and be loved
Caution, prudence, discretion
Citizenship, teamwork, loyalty
Creativity, ingenuity, originality
Fairness, equity, justice
Honesty, optimism, future-mindedness
Industry, diligence, perseverance
Judgment, critical thinking, open-minded
Love of learning
Spirituality, sense of purpose, faith
Zest, enthusiasm, energy