I’ve written many times about what I call Proactive Positivity, actions you can take to help yourself to be happier, such as: expressing gratitude, smiling, helping others, exercising, spending time with people you like, looking for silver linings, being present, seeing the glass as half full, celebrating your progress, laughing, having fun, pursuing your passions, working in a job you love, having hobbies, and investing in experiences vs. stuff.
In an article by Jane Brody, the wonderful, long-time, personal-health columnist for the New York Times, she wrote something similar. Reporting on the work of, among others, Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina (and author of a book called, quite apropos to my thinking, Positivity), Brody writes of accumulating “micro-moments of positivity,” to result in greater overall well-being.
Negative feelings activate a region of the brain called the amygdala, which is involved in processing fear, anxiety, and other emotions. Positivity activities help one bounce back from life’s inevitable stresses.
Brody provided this list of activities Dr. Fredrickson and I and others endorse to foster positive emotions:
- Do good things for other people.
- Appreciate the world around you.
- Develop and bolster relationships.
- Establish goals that can be accomplished.
- Learn something new.
- Choose to accept yourself, flaws and all.
- Practice resilience.
- Practice mindfulness.
In a related article, Brody provided a similar list of skills to help people feel happy, calm and satisfied in the midst of a health crisis. They are useful in helping people feel happier, more calm, and more satisfied in all situations:
- Recognize a positive event each day.
- Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
- Start a daily gratitude journal.
- List a personal strength and note how you used it.
- Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
- Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.
- Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
- Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.
As always, I recommend choosing one of these you and focusing on it for the 21 days it takes to create a habit. I’m sure you will be glad you did.
What new happiness habit are you going to adopt? Please join the conversation with your comments…