Tag Archives: positive psychology and happiness

Seven Positive Psychology Habits for a Happy Life

by Dr. Colleen Georges

7 Positive Psychology Practices for a Happy Life

Here are seven excellent habits for positive psychology that can enrich life and improve positive focus:

Focus on Strengths: Too often we think, “What’s wrong with me and how can I fix it?” instead of “What’s right with me and how can I use it?” Even organizations make this error, drawing attention to ways the company and its employees are underperforming rather than maximizing how they’re excelling. However, countless studies have demonstrated we are at our best when engaging our strengths. Two pioneering strengths assessments, the VIA Survey of Character Strengths and Clifton StrengthsFinder, provide tools for individuals to identify their strengths and leverage them for greater happiness at home and work. Father of positive psychology Dr. Martin Seligman and his colleagues found that when we use our strengths in new and different ways regularly, we experience higher levels of happiness and lower levels of depression. Furthermore, the VIA Institute on Character, in partnership with MAPP graduate Michelle McQuaid, conducted the VIA Strengths at Work Survey and discovered that 70 percent of professionals who use their strengths at work each day report feeling engaged, influential, and that they’re flourishing in their workplaces.

Express Gratitude: Rather than yearning for what we don’t have, we do more good for our health and happiness by expressing gratitude for all we do have. Whether thanking a higher power, friends, family, colleagues, or strangers, gratitude has lasting positive impacts. Studies by leading gratitude researcher Dr. Robert Emmons have found that those who practice gratitude experience greater joy, pleasure, happiness, and optimism. Moreover, a gratitude survey by The John Templeton Foundation discovered that 88 percent of professionals indicated expressing gratitude to their work colleagues makes them feel happier. Saying “thank you” to others, counting your daily blessings, writing a gratitude letter, and recognizing a colleague’s contributions can have critical impacts on happiness.

Be Kind and Generous: Occasionally, we can get caught up in being busy and forget to take time for kindness. In Give and Take, Dr. Adam Grant shares research on how giving to others has a significant impact on our personal and career success and happiness. Grant suggests such things as seeking opportunities to do a favor for someone, practicing random acts of kindness, volunteering in your community, and helping colleagues craft their jobs to their strengths. Simple kindnesses matter too, like smiling at a stranger, paying a compliment, or holding the door for someone.

Forgive Yourself and Others: Sometimes we become engrossed in anger at others, situations, or ourselves for misdeeds, misfortunes, and mistakes, taking a toll on our physical and emotional health. Leading forgiveness researcher Dr. Fred Luskin suggests we must fully acknowledge and allow ourselves to process hurt before we can move forward. Dr. Jack Kornfield, renowned Buddhist psychology educator, says that forgiveness is not just about the other, it’s about not inflicting pain on ourselves. He shares, “It’s not worth it to live day after day with hatred. Because for one thing, that person who betrayed you could be in Hawaii right now having a nice vacation — and you’re here hating them! Who’s suffering then?” We must also forgive ourselves for perceived flaws. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Bréné Brown wisely suggests giving up who we think we’re supposed to be to embrace who we really are.

Reframe Thinking Towards Optimism: It’s easy to catastrophize when we experience a personal or work adversity. However, we have immense control over how we perceive situations. In The Resilience Factor, Dr. Karen Reivich and Dr. Andrew Shatté discuss how we can boost resilience by thinking more optimistically about adversities. David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism and 10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People, refers to this approach as positive forward thinking and says, “Positive forward thinking means finding the silver lining in the difficulties of yesterday and today, and going forward with the confidence that tomorrow will be better.” Thinking optimistically is correlated with greater happiness with life and work.

Set Regular Goals: We have many things we want to accomplish in a day, week, month, or year. Setting short- and long-terms goals for our personal and professional life is critical for productivity and happiness. MAPP graduate Caroline Adams-Miller discusses the positive psychology of goal-setting in Creating Your Best Life. She suggests creating goals that are challenging, specific, measurable, value-driven, intrinsically motivated, and that engage flow. This helps us build self-efficacy, utilize potential, connect goals to our values, feel engaged, and gain motivation and reinforcement from within rather than externally.

Connect With Others: Consider the happiest times of your life. Were you alone during those times? It’s unlikely. Nearly without fail, when people share their happiest moments, they were spent connecting with others. In Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, Dr. Matthew Lieberman illustrates how vital our social connections are to our happiness. He shares, “becoming more socially connected is essential to our survival. In a sense, evolution has made bets at each step that the best way to make us more successful is to make us more social.” Call your parents, go on a date with your partner, go to dinner with a friend, go to lunch with colleagues, spend unplugged time with your child, talk to the person behind you in line at the supermarket — create connection to create happiness.


Related Online Continuing Education Courses


In the Zone: Finding Flow Through Positive Psychology is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that offers a how-to guide on incorporating flow into everyday life. According to the CDC, four out of ten people have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Further, the APA reports that most people suffer from moderate to high levels of stress, and according to SAMSHA, adult prescription medication abuse (primarily to counteract attention deficit disorders) is one of the most concerning health problems today. And while clinicians now have a host of resources to mitigate distress and reduce symptomatology, the question remains: how do clinicians move clients beyond baseline levels of functioning to a state of fulfillment imbued with a satisfying life purpose? The answer may lie in a universal condition with unexpected benefits…This course will explore the concept of flow, also known as optimal performance, which is a condition we are all capable of, yet seldom cultivate.


Animal-Assisted Therapy and the Healing Power of Pets is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that includes the story of Dr. Deirdre Rand’s journey with her animal companions and the lessons learned from the challenges and rewards of those relationships. Also discussed are temperament, socialization and training; the role of the neurohormone oxytocin in strengthening the human-companion animal bond; the founding of the three major organizations which register volunteer handler/therapy teams, along with the contributions of key historic figures in developing animal-assisted therapy as we know it today; examples of animal-assisted interventions with dogs, cats and other animals; and attributes of a great therapy animal and a great handler.”Animal-Assisted Therapy and the Healing Power of Pets provides an essential foundation to anyone interested in animal assisted intervention work, whether as a healthcare professional or as a volunteer therapy animal team with their dog or cat.


This course will give you the mindfulness skills necessary to work directly, effectively and courageously, with your own and your client’s life struggles. Compassion towards others starts with compassion towards self. Practicing mindfulness cultivates our ability to pay intentional attention to our experience from moment to moment. Mindfulness teaches us to become patiently and spaciously aware of what is going on in our mind and body without judgment, reaction, and distraction, thus inviting into the clinical process, the inner strengths and resources that help achieve healing results not otherwise possible. Bringing the power of mindful presence to your clinical practice produces considerable clinical impact in the treatment of anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic pain, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, colitis/IBS, and migraines/tension headaches. The emphasis of this course is largely experiential and will offer you the benefit of having a direct experience of the mindfulness experience in a safe and supportive fashion.


Professional Development Resources is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA): the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners. We are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within one week of completion.




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