Everyone should focus on their mental health – even when they’re not experiencing mental illness. To support your mental health, consider utilizing the power of positive psychology to proactively boost your feelings of happiness.
Positive psychology focuses on positive emotions and personal strengths. This includes focusing on our character strengths, optimistic emotions, and constructive institutions. This practice is based on the belief that happiness is derived from both emotional and mental factors. I found myself at a point of burnout in parenting and in my personal life 7 years ago, which led me to create my nonprofit, L.I.F.E.
As part of the development of the organization I was researching how to find and sustain happiness. I was searching how to find sustained happiness, fulfillment, and enlightenment in my life. This is when I came across Martin Seligman, Ph. D.’s work and research in positive psychology – which he created in 1998 when he gave his presidential address to the American Psychology Association (APA). Its core topics include happiness, wellbeing, resilience, flow, and mindfulness. Because of his research, Dr. Seligman is now widely regarded as the Father of Modern Positive Psychology. As part of his research, he identified five elements that are important for happiness – positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement. The acronym for these elements, PERMA, is the term that they are most often referred to.
Positive psychology does not focus on dysfunction, deficits, or improving weaknesses. It can complement rather than replace traditional psychotherapy. I personally have found this to be a more successful approach when coaching physicians, nurses, and students. Studies evaluating outcomes of interventions using positive psychology have mostly been small and short term, however, I believe in this work and supporting people from a place of positivity to help them build on their strengths and to let go of their shortcomings.
I support my mental health still today by incorporating a gratitude journal, using Dr. Seligman’s Gratitude Visit practice, visualizing my future achievements with the Best Possible Self exercise, measuring my daily enjoyment and strengths with Daily Strength Awareness work and incorporating mindfulness meditation.
For more information on how to incorporate these practices, visit: https://positivepsychology.com/positive-psychology-examples/
Dr. Seligman found that if he supported highly functional patients by helping them find positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement through these exercises that they could reach great levels of success and happiness. He found that they only needed minimal support and small nudges which carry them so far. He found this much more rewarding and successful than focusing on people’s dysfunction and deficiencies.
Focusing on positive experiences, positive individual traits, and positive institutions, carry individuals much further and helps to guide them to find fulfillment and meaning in their work and lives. I wanted to create an organization that focuses on the positive attributes of its members, supports their needs and well-being through providing education, community, mentorship, and philanthropy. This is what I believe that I have created with L.I.F.E., and I hope to maintain this as I believe that there is no better time than the present time to support our community.
Please look up our organization on social media and our website to learn more and see what we are up to! We need and appreciate all of the support we can get from our community in order to share it forward.
I encourage you to support our mission at L.I.F.E. – we would love to have you involved so we can continue to support our community. For more information on the organization, visit www.livingenlightenment.life or follow on Facebook.
To learn more about Positive Psychology and to take the Personal Strengths test as well as rate your overall happiness and optimism to see where you’re currently at as well as to monitor your progress, visit https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/.
Dr. Mara Windsor is an emergency physician, philanthropist and advocate for wellness. As former Clinical Site Director and Education Director who now serves as Chief Wellness Officer for her physician group at HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Hospitals she serves as a leader in the medical industry. She also serves as Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix and Clinical Assistant Professor at Midwestern University AZCOM. Seven years ago, she founded L.I.F.E. (Living in Fulfilled Enlightenment), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the physical, emotional and spiritual wellness of professionals. Throughout the pandemic, the nonprofit has given support to frontline workers, provided virtual wellness crisis support and hosted health-focused events and lectures to help boost the wellbeing of the community.