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Positive flow nurtures wellbeing.

By Jennifer Lumsden, July 21 2019

We all want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. Cultivating a positive outlook is a good foundation. Positive psychology focuses on the strengths to enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrive.
It’s not about being happy all the time or avoiding negative thoughts. Difficult or negative thoughts can also help us to learn about ourselves.

If I increase positive thoughts, what’s in it for me?
• Less anxiety (likely)
• Less depression (likely)
• Improved relationships (likely)
• Better physical health (possible)
• More success in life (possible)

Here are four ways to build a positive outlook

  • Engage in an activity that you enjoy and where you don’t notice the time passing. Researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly called this ‘flow’. Typically you may feel ‘flow’ during sport, art or creative pursuits but also it is possible at work. The key ingredients are:
    • the task is challenging and requires skill;
    • concentration is needed;
    • there are clear goals;
    • immediate feedback;
    • deep, effortless involvement;
    • a sense of control;
    • Our sense of self vanishes and time stops
  • Practice gratitude – write down three things you are thankful for at the end of each day. Gratitude helps shift our thinking to notice positive things because often we get stuck on negatives or disappointments. You might be grateful for good health, food in the cupboard, a meaningful job or activity, people you care about or for learning to do something better. Try to get your day off to a positive start by being grateful at the beginning of your day.
  • Show kindness – try doing five acts of kindness, especially see if you can in one day. Giving makes us feel good about ourselves and brings connection with others. We can be quick to criticise others, be impatient or get annoyed, why not try responding with calm and kindness. To those who volunteer, it is the perfect kindness.
  • Exercise is well known to make a big difference to our health and our positive outlook. Exercising in nature is even better.

Like exercising a muscle or learning to cook a recipe, keeping our minds more positive is a skill that we can all learn and get better at.
After all, we all want to thrive and live the best life we possibly can.

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