The past 2 years have opened my eyes to new experiences with my research into Applied Positive Psychology. Martin Seligman’s theory of well-being has revolutionized our ability to manage our thinking. Simply put, think on good thoughts!
In his book, “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being,” Seligman writes:
“We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well.”
In other words, we have to train our mind to consider the good that is happening in our lives. There is a mind body connection, meaning our body will respond to our thoughts. Think about the last time you were afraid. What happened in your body? In response to feeling afraid, we may feel hot, our heart may race, and shaking in in our body may occur.
Sleep hygiene is important with our mental self care. We can set the tone for what our subconscious will rest on during sleep. Have you ever eaten sugar or drank something with caffeine before you went to sleep? For many of us, this affects our ability to fall asleep. There is power in our thoughts, as our mind directs our brain. Martin Seligman offers the following sleep self care strategy:
“Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”).
Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?” For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.” Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy,” you might pick as the cause … “She did everything right during her pregnancy.”
Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier.”
He even let’s us know this exercise is addictive as we repeat it daily for at least 6 months. As a resilience specialist, I practice these and other techniques when things are going well, and when I feel challenged, and stressed. Consistently applying this, and other exercises develop the skill of resilience in us.
Gratitude is powerful in redirecting our mind to focus on what is going right in life. The resilience in flourishing is a pathway of gratitude, and acknowledgment of what is going well. Let’s begin to practice healthy sleep mental self care today!