Using Positive Psychology


One tool that helps you incorporate using positive psychology is Gratitude Journaling.  It teaches you to appreciate the impact that gratitude can have on your well-being. The three most important things to know about Positive Psychology according to Martin Seligman, coauthor of the Positive Psychology Workbook is that “PPT is a therapeutic approach that attempts to counteract symptoms with strengths, weaknesses with virtues and deficits with skills to help one understand complex situations and experiences in a balanced way”.

Here is a way that Martin Seligman suggests for you to get started with the following journaling exercise:

First, try to relax and follow your breath in and out 7 to 10 times then …

-Recall and reflect on a time when you prevailed in a circumstance and journal about it. After sharing your story on paper and then with your therapist you can begin to acknowledge your strengths and reframe your experience in a more positive way.

-Resiliency: Mindfully recall a meaningful experience weaving it into a story you create with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Write it down, share it and take the opportunity to reframe it, reappraise and refile important parts of the self that were revealed in the story. Write down your strengths and virtues.

-Your distress and hurt from past experiences can be an opportunity to take a deeper look at your past, and the skills you used in a difficult situation as you work on overcoming and moving forward.  Write down the skills you have learned that have helped you, and the weaknesses that you can acknowledge as stepping stones to create positive change.

According to PPT as stated in the Positive Psychology Workbook there are:

Three things to know about Gratitude Journaling:

  1. We remember negatives more than positives. The human brain remembers failures more readily than successes. Negatives stick with us and keep us stuck, while positives pass swiftly.  We complain and criticize easily but struggle to complement and express gratitude. The goal of the Gratitude Journal practice is to help you cultivate a regular practice of expressing gratitude.
  2. Gratitude provides perspective. Gratitude is expressing and enacting a sense of thankfulness, including a deliberate effort to observe, be aware of, and appreciate positive things in our life.  We assume that positive things just happen and, therefore, we take them for granted. When we don’t take things for granted, we value them, which in turn helps us to perceive both the positives and the negatives in our lives in perspective.
  3. Benefits of Gratitude:  It helps to offset our negativity and also enables us to appreciate what we have. Therefore, we are less likely to compare ourselves to others in regard to material goods. Gratitude also enhances our appreciation of others, especially their kindness, care, and affection. When we express our gratitude towards others, it naturally builds and strengthens our relationships.

Vanessa Adams, LMHC