In his fantastic book “Flourish” Dr. Martin Seligman says the failing of historical approaches to psychology arose from a focus on ameliorating what was “wrong” with someone. Psychology honed in on the causes of suffering caused by mental illnesses and developed assessments and tools thusly. Ha, I used thusly. Cool.
For those of us free of the challenges of mental illness psychology historically failed to provide tools focused on what was going “right” and how to improve our lives. Seligman’s extraordinary vision lead to the development of Well Being Theory giving insights into the foundations of flourishing. Over the decades since his vision was first shared the scientifically supported interventions researchers in Positive Psychology have developed and tested are nothing short of miraculous – and a boon for us in all times and especially in trying times like these.
Tangent: Like you, my life and my work have been disrupted. Is this what I would choose? Of course not! My work was crushing it in 2019 and I was doing work I loved. In 2020 the work and subsequent flow of money has paused (I won’t say stopped) and I don’t like poverty and I miss my work. Though I’m grateful I have reserves they are reserves and my desire to protect said reserves has been confounded by my inability to develop of an objective rubric to determine how cheap of a tequila I can tolerate.
Here’s the deal, cornmeal. I can’t control most of what’s transpiring and as the adage says we can only control how we react. So I won’t and don’t focus on what’s going wrong.
So, what’s going right in my life right now?
- People are asking if I’m ok and I’m doing the same. Those little social interactions are important because our brain LOVES them so thank others and reach out to others. I miss my people and it’s great to know people are concerned about my well-being.
- The work I do “used to” required a lot of travel and that means eating out a lot – which I love and cherish. This time last year I was 15 pounds heavier. I miss you fast food but I’m liking this version of me.
- My business model was shifting and now it absolutely has to shift and it’s going to be great for my business in the long run. I have the time and with less distractions I have the headspace to dive deep and it’s been incredibly inspiring to make progress on what were typically overwhelming projects.
- I’ve been playing my guitar nearly every day. I’m still awful, like Nickleback bad, but tickling my brain in new ways is important and triggers flow. Never stop learning and use this time to dive into something new.
- I’m ok being isolated. For now. If I’m not working with a group I’m typically working at home. In the “old days” I had the freedom to structure my time as I see fit (job crafting virtual training coming soon!), the ability to extend my travel when I was on the road and used that time to see family and friends. Mostly friends, my family is looney. I like and need the social contact but I’m used to working alone and though Myers-Briggs says I’m an ENFJ with the E standing for Extrovert I’ve realized over time that my social contact needs are less about being around people vs. being around the right people. I’ve been maintaining those contacts with the right people. If you haven’t heard from me don’t read into it, mostly.
Full-Circle: You have a choice. You can focus on what’s going wrong and what you can’t control. Or you can focus you can control and what’s going right and what you’re doing well. Here’s an activity from Positive Psychology peeps to try that can have an impact on your happiness – lasting months. Yep, months.
By your nightstand put a journal or a piece of paper. Each night before you go to bed write down “3 Good Things” that happened that day. The “things” don’t need to be massive things since big wins come less frequently so we need to learn to celebrate the little things. For each one also write down how you made those “3 Good Things” happen.
And by all means please share them with me, I’d love to know I’m helping others. email@example.com