This Tuesday was officially the last day of my Positive Psychology program with Joylla, and I am now a Positive Psychology Practitioner! I had very high expectations for this program, and they were exceeded in so many ways. My studies in Positive Psychology have given me so much both professionally and personally that I decided that my graduation deserves its own blog post. Here are some of the key learnings from this journey:
I have learned to see more good around me
One of the key areas of research in Positive Psychology are positive emotions. Professor Martin Seligman, one of the “founding fathers” of Positive Psychology included it as one of the five components of this PERMA model, and other researchers, such as Barbara Fredrickson, have continued to study this topic. Fredrickson’s famous broaden-and-build theory explains how positive emotions broaden our options and build our resources, while negative emotions narrow them down and often lead to a fight-or-flight response. Indeed, positive emotions have many benefits to us and our well-being.
However, so many of us get easily caught up in the negative emotions in our day-to-day. I learned during my studies that we actually experience more positive than negative emotions, but the negative are often stronger which is why we notice them more. Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski put it the best in their book Happy Together (2018):
“When we have a problem, we typically know it, because problems scream at us. Opportunities and other good things typically just whisper and often fade into the background.”
The good news is that we can consciously start giving more attention to positive emotions and strengthen them. This is called savoring. Savoring literally means to savor the good moments and give them the spotlight they deserve. For example, this morning I was making oatmeal in our kitchen and noticed how beautiful the rising sun looked like. I stopped for a moment to just look at the sunrise and feel grateful for the beauty and quietness of that moment. Before studying Positive Psychology and understanding the power of savoring, I probably still would have noticed the sunrise but I would not have stopped to savor it to strengthen the positive emotions it was making me experience.
I have gained a new approach to workplace well-being
Those of you who have been reading my previous blogs from three years ago know that I was all about happiness and well-being at work. And when I started to build my business plan, it was clear to me from the beginning that I wanted to help build workplaces where people could flourish. And this still is my mission today. However, my approach to how to achieve it has changed during my studies.
Before learning this new mindset, my approach was very problem-focused: find out what is wrong and then go fix it. Obviously, it is important to solve issues in the workplace, however, as we saw earlier, problems are often obvious. Good leaders are also able to solve most problems in their teams. I realized that I was going to be a much more valuable partner to the leaders if instead of the obvious problems, and helped them to find the whispering opportunities in their teams.
Strengths used to be a small part of my first service, but now they are in the center of everything. Building on strengths helps us reach our best results and makes us feel energized and engaged. In workplaces, this translates to better employee well-being, performance, and ultimately, the organization’s bottom line. Personally, this approach also allows me to use my own strengths better.
I have became more compassionate toward myself
Self-compassion was one of the topics that we studied under the theme of accomplishment. If you had asked me before starting these studies what self-compassion and accomplishment have in common, I probably would have answered that they are the complete opposites. I used to connect self-compassion with not accomplishing things, which I think is a common misbelief.
So how does self-compassion help us accomplish our goals? Let’s look at the actual opposite of self-compassion, being overly critical to ourselves. When we are being overly critical to ourselves, we easily start beating ourselves up for mistakes and problems. “You shouldn’t have done that. You should have known better.” We might also keep blaming ourselves for things that happened months or years ago. “Why did you do it? Things would be so much better now if you had done differently.”
Listening to our inner critic consumes a lot of our energy and doesn’t really take us anywhere. It can also make us miss out opportunities, if we are scared of making mistakes before we even start. Self-compassion, on the other hand, helps us get over the mistake, and then redirect our energy to something more productive. According Dr. Kristin Neff, the three components of self-compassion are self-kindness, shared humanity, and mindfulness. Instead to being overly critical toward myself, I have learned to say more: “It is okay to feel this way right now. Anybody in this situation would feel the same way. I am here for you.” And one of my favorite phrases from one of my teachers at Joylla, “what do you need right now?”
These points obviously just scratched the surface of the journey that Positive Psychology and Joylla have taken me on. It would have been impossible to include all the learnings from 10 months into one blog post! And of course, the journey does not end here, there will always be more to learn. I will still keep writing about Positive Psychology here, so stay tuned!