Positive Psychology states that several things contribute to well-being but focuses on five core elements that they believe really increase our likelihood to feel good and experience joy. They are positive emotion, engagement, meaning, positive relationships, and accomplishment. The more we engage with others, do the things we like doing such as hiking, swimming, singing, etc., and we become connected to our life’s purpose, the more meaning and positive emotion we’ll experience through those positive relationships. If you want to explore more about wellbeing and authentic happiness I highly recommend you read “Flourish” by Martin, E.P. Seligman. He presents a visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being and provides several resources to increase positive emotion including experiential exercises and self-assessments.
One of my favorite exercises from the book was “What-Went-Well” or “The Three Blessings” exercise where you set aside 10 minutes every night before you go to bed to write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You can use your journal or computer but make sure that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things don’t need to be super special or earthshaking in importance. It can be something like “my husband picked up my favorite coffee drink from the coffee shop today.” Next to the positive event you will describe why did this happen. For example “I remembered calling my husband and asking him to stop get it for me”, or “he wanted to surprise me.”
Writing about why the positive events happened will increase your awareness about cause-effect and your active role in life. It might seem a bit awkward at the beginning to write about why those things happened but if you stick to this practice, it will get easier. You will do this for a week and notice that your symptoms of anxiety and depression will decrease. Focusing on the positive will also make you become more aware of the positive and soon you will be paying more attention to those positive events in your life!
Visit https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/ for more information on self-assessments and information on Positive Psychology.