Seeking comfort is human nature. We can become stuck in the comfort and then struggle to step outside of our comfort zones and embrace change. However, it is also human nature to strive to become better, to grow, and feel as though we are evolving in a positive way throughout our life span. The tricky part is how to step out of our comfort zones where desire remains just that, a desire rather than actually taking any action towards change.
Positive psychology is an area of psychology that focuses on developing individual strengths in order to live a life of deeper meaning, contentment, happiness, inner peace and ease. The power of acceptance is at its core. It offers a series of practices to create opportunities to develop and utilize these inner resources. These practices and the focus on developing inner strengths eases into the process of change. These foundational inner strengths then create an opportunity to embrace change in a way that is both very healthy and often focuses on, well—just like the name suggests—the positive.
Positive psychology definitely does not consider life to be just become a breeze if you possess or develop these strengths and mental perspectives. It also does not claim that the goal or purpose of implementing these practices to grow your inner strengths is to become happy-happy-happy all of the time—we all know that that is simply not realistic.
Within the arena of positive psychology the focus is how to approach circumstance that may be challenging. How to create a mindful perspective and view challenges as opportunities to use and continue to grow your inner strengths in order to build resilience and create the changes that you desire. This mindful and positive approach offers constant perspective shifting—creating the possibility to grow all throughout your life.
There are six personal strengths that studies have shown are consistent with living a life of happiness, contentment and ease.
These strengths are:
1. Curiosity: Allowing continued growth of knowledge and wisdom
2. Vitality: Allowing continued growth of courage as well as mind & body wellbeing
3. Giving and Receiving Love: Allowing continued growth of love, trust, openness and affirmation for yourself and others
4. Temperance: Allowing continued growth of acceptance, forgiveness & compassion
5. Gratitude: Allowing for continued growth to release the state of wanting and desire and creating a grateful perspective that what you have is enough. This creates transcendence and deeply releases anxiety.
6. Hope & Faith: An inner belief that all will be well without having to control your circumstances. This is the experience of surrender, which is deeply personal and spiritual.
While these six areas of strengths are demonstrated by those who seem to be authentically happy, know that there are many other strengths and values that are certainly important that we all can possess and attain. However, these six strengths are a pretty good place to begin to grow and build upon in order to open yourself to greater mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. If you feel that you possess at least one of these strengths, you are off to a good start! You can access your strengths to help grow in other areas that may need some support along your path to creating greater contentment, happiness and ease in life. If you feel you do not possess any of these strengths, don’t fret! There are many ways to build and grow these strengths. In fact, that’s why I’m writing about this in the first place. So many people feel stuck and blocked in their pursuit of change.
Growth, change and personal development is a process and requires effort. So, think about this, how content do you feel with your life at this moment on a 0-10 scale? Now consider one of the strengths listed above that you feel you could benefit from expanding within yourself and improve your happiness.
Over the next six posts I will be talking about ways to increase each of these within your life on a daily basis. I will share practices that are rooted in positive psychology that support the development of these strengths. I will be offering ways to incorporate them into mindful and intuitive eating practices as my primary focus within wholistic food therapy is supporting those who struggle with emotional eating, stress eating and a not-so-healthy body image. If that is not what resonates with you, you can take the same concepts and apply them to any area that you’d like to grow, improve and feel stronger internally.
Throughout this fall you will begin to use these practices and allow your strengths to be reflected back to you both by how you feel internally as well as through how others may experience and respond to you. When you pursue change, growth and personal development, life opens up in such a positive and encouraging way. Really, it is all about your perspective and how much fear rules your current state of mind, actions and choices. When you focus on where you lack, where you feel let down or don’t allow in hope, that will only expand and be reinforced. On the other side, when you focus on growth, expansion and becoming, that will be reinforced.
I know that I always benefit from focusing on growing within one strength at a time as many of these were not my go-to’s for a long time. I will be doing the practices and working to grow throughout this fall and I am looking forward to the challenge. I hope you will join me as we begin to hone these internal strengths together!