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Transcript of positive thinking
Being more engaged in the present moment can lead to a richer experience of the things that might otherwise pass us by while we are wrapped up in thoughts about the past or relentlessly thinking about what we are doing next.
- Psychological fluctuation
- Positive emotions
for a happy living
Ten keys to happier living
Action for Happiness
Based on positive psychology.
Have goals for the future
Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%.
As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. So the good news is that our actions really can make a difference.
Take a positive approach
Connect with people
Look after your body
Notice the world around
Our daily activities
Our attitude to life
Giving to others can be as simple as a single kind word, smile or a thoughtful gesture.
Scientific studies show that helping others boosts happiness:
- It increases life satisfaction,
- provides a sense of meaning,
- increases feelings of competence,
- improves our mood and reduced stress.
- It can help to take our minds off our own troubles too.
- Helping increases happiness
- Giving feels good.
- Giving does you good.
People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer.
Research shows that it's the quality of our relationships that matters most. This is influenced by:
•- Experiencing positive emotions together - e.g. enjoyment, fun
•- Being able to talk openly and feel understood
•- Giving and receiving of support
•- Shared activities and experiences.
Our need to feel connected to other people - to love and be loved, and to care and be cared for - is a fundamental human need. Some experts argue that the capacity to be loved, as well as to love, is the most important human strength.
Our body and our mind are connected.
Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health.
It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression.
Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life - like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future - so we get more out of the day-to-day.
Mindfulness = the state of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present. Two critical elements of mindfulness are that: It is intentional; and We are accepting, rather than judging, of what we notice.
Crucially it is about observing all this but not getting caught up in thinking and worrying about what we are observing. It then gives us more control of what we decide to give our attention to.
Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways.
- It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged.
- It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience.
There are many ways to learn new things - not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.
We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.
Goals are the way we can turn our values and dreams into reality. Happiness doesn't just happen - it comes from thinking, planning and pursuing things that are important to us. Scientific research shows that setting and working towards goals can contribute to happiness in various ways, including:
•- Being a source of interest, engagement or pleasure
•- Giving us a sense of meaning and purpose
•- Bringing a sense of accomplishment when we achieve what we set out to (or milestones along the way) - this also builds our confidence and belief in what we can do in the future
What kind of goals?
Goals can be long-term, short-term or even day-to-day.
Smaller goals may seem unimportant. But having personal projects that matter to us - and are manageable - has been consistently shown to boost well-being, especially when they're supported by others around us.
Optimism is about believing that things are more likely to turn out good than bad. Not surprisingly our level of optimism can influence how persistent we are in aiming for our goals and how we deal with setbacks.
Taking an optimistic approach to our goals includes:
•- Choosing goals that take us towards something positive we want to achieve.
•- Being proactive when problems arise and looking for ways to resolve them.
•- Avoiding dwelling on the negative - learning to accept difficult things that we can't change and re-adjusting our goals rather than avoiding them.
But it's important we keep our feet on the ground. An overly optimistic outlook can be unhelpful.
Taking a realistic but hopeful view of the outcomes seems to increase the likelihood that things really will turn out ok.
All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our wellbeing. In practice it's not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.
Some people describe it as the ability to bend instead of breaking when under pressure or difficulty, or the ability to persevere and adapt when faced with challenges.
Our resilience is influenced by three key sets of factors: our development as a child and as a teenager; external factors such as our relationships with others or having a faith; and internal factors such as how we choose to interpret events, manage our emotions and regulate our behaviour.
By changing the way we think about adversity, we can boost how resilient we are.
One of the key external sources of resilience is our network of relationships with other people such as family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. Taking time to nurture our relationships is a vital part of resilience building and helps to create resilient and happier communities. Knowing when we need help and asking for it is an important part of resilience.
A key ingredient in resilience is optimism. Realistic optimists are those who engage with their problems as challenges, which can include planning for worst case scenarios. They recognise what they can control and do something about and what they can't, and so focus their efforts accordingly.
Through facing their issues and seeking advice it is easier to see things more clearly and rationally - they can therefore be more realistic than pessimists. They are skilled at finding benefits to the situations they find themselves in and they experience less negative emotions and stress. And not because they ignore the difficulties of life, but precisely because they take them on.
Our ability to cope with adversity can be influenced by how we are able to interpret the situation we are in or what has happened to us.
Experiences that bring people face to face with the fragility of life can bring them a sharpened appreciation of their relationships, for example, and of the importance of living in the present.
•- a 'seismic' disruption to how we see ourselves;
•- the recognition that we have changed in some significant way for the better as a result of the event;
•- a reconfiguring of how we make meaningful sense of the world;
•- deepening personal relationships through sharing and depending on others;
•- development or mastery of new skills;
•- re-prioritisation of goals and priorities, or setting of different ones;
•- a greater spiritual belief or connection to something bigger.
Positive emotions - like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride - are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an 'upward spiral', helping to build our resources.
Now ground-breaking scientific work is showing that positive emotions have the effect of broadening our perceptions, in much the same way that negative emotions narrow them.
Feeling good in the short term can also help us feel good in the long run.
Positivity ratio: One useful way of thinking about happiness is that overall we need to have more positive emotions compared with negative ones.
We need a healthy balance between enjoying the moment and doing things that bring meaning and fulfilment in the longer term.
Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.
Self-acceptance expands this concept to:
- knowing our strengths and our weaknesses,
- coming to terms with our past and
- feeling okay or good about ourselves while being aware of our limitations.
Albert Ellis, a renowned psychologist, described two choices: accepting ourselves conditionally (i.e. only under certain conditions, for example when we succeed) or unconditionally (under all circumstances).
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression.
But where do we find 'meaning and purpose'? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.
It helps us answer the question: why are we here? Often it's something that can't be reduced or goes beyond the day-to-day. It guides us in how we choose to live our lives, what we strive for and provides a framework for the goals we set. It can help make sense of what happens to us, provide a source of comfort and strength in tough times and helps us feel that we are not alone.
Self-esteem (as opposed to self-acceptance) is typically based on judgements of how good we are within specific areas of our lives. Because these judgements are dependent on how well we are doing in that area, how good we feel fluctuates based on our latest success or failure.
Self-esteem also means that our judgement of how good we are is relative to other people, so it can lead to a sense of superiority over and therefore separation from others.
Self-compassion is defined as having three overlapping parts:
•- Being kind and understanding to ourselves in instances of suffering or perceived inadequacy;
•- A sense of common humanity, recognising that pain and failure are unavoidable aspects of life for all human beings; and
•- A balanced awareness of our emotions-the ability to face (rather than avoid) painful thoughts and feelings, but without exaggeration, drama or self-pity.
Neff's and others' studies are also showing that self-compassion promotes self-improvement and reduces comparison to others (which is very detrimental to our happiness).
Religious faith or other spiritual practices provide meaning for many people and research suggests that people with faith tend to have higher average levels of happiness and well-being than people with no religious beliefs. But religion and spirituality are not the only sources of meaning. For many of us, our relationships with others are a key source of meaning in our lives - as parents, friends and members of a community
Other important sources of meaning include finding your 'calling' - a job or activity that you're passionate about - or having a deep connection to the natural world.
What is certain is that 'meaning' is something very individual. No one can tell us what gives meaning to our lives - we have to find out for ourselves.
We can each find our own way - but it's important to remember the importance of meaning when making the big choices about our families, jobs, lifestyles and priorities.
A good approach is to consciously think about which activities, people and beliefs bring us the strongest sense of purpose and passion. Then we can focus on making sure that we prioritise these things in our busy lives. Often we're so busy just hurtling ahead and end up exhausted at the end of each day without ever finding time to think about what really gives our lives meaning.
Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman define spirituality as a "universal strength of transcendence", noting that although the content of specific spiritual beliefs may vary, they have in common a sense of ultimate transcendence, the sacred or a divine force.
There are many pathways to discovering and experiencing spirituality - both through religious faith (such as Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism etc) or non-religious ways for example through nature, meditation or creative practices.
Building resilient skills: