Are You An Optimist or Pessimist? How Changing Negative Thinking Can Significantly Affect Your Happiness

Are You An Optimist or Pessimist? How Changing Negative Thinking Can Significantly Affect Your Happiness

Yes both optimists and pessimists alike have tended to earn bad reputations in different ways over time - from the Debbie Downer or cynical New Yorker scrooging through life, to the Pollyanna type that gets into trouble for being unrealistic and naive.

But when we dig a little deeper into the actual differences in mindset between more optimistic people and more pessimistic ones, we start to see how we, too, are constantly choosing between the subtle differences in these approaches in our everyday challenges and decisions, and just how tangible the effects of two very different perspectives can have on our greater lives.

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How To Find Your Purpose Through Your Strengths

How To Find Your Purpose Through Your Strengths

One of the topics I found to be most valuable in our Positive Psychology class this semester was an exploration in both identifying and building on human strengths.

Most of you who have taken at least an intro psych class are likely familiar with the DSM, used as a manual for cataloging and diagnosing mental disorders as identified and defined today. However, when Martin Seligman (the “father of positive psychology”) called for the revival of the previously neglected positive aspects of the field, he and and Christopher Peterson came up with a classification of strengths and virtues to directly counterbalance the DSM’s focus on human deficits and afflictions.

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Positive Psychology & What it Means to Flourish

Positive Psychology & What it Means to Flourish

I’ve spent the last several months pouring over research, trialing out various activities and “interventions,” and writing dozens of journal entries, papers and reflections in a graduate course called “The Science and Application of Positive Psychology” offered through Harvard.

Still in the midst of a quarter-life crisis and career change, I signed up for the class because I knew I wanted to pursue a path somewhere in this large and mushy arena they called “positive psychology.” I was also so energized by my yoga teacher training and recent explorations in self care, mindfulness and meditation, that I developed an insatiable desire to learn and understand all the science and theory that was out there behind it.

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Embracing the Jungle Gym

Embracing the Jungle Gym

“Sometimes it’s ok to just be on time.”

Have you ever stopped long enough to notice that for some reason we’re always in this huge rush? If we’re not rushing to get to the top of the ladder, we’re rushing to have kids and get them to piano, or rushing through yoga to check it off the list. It’s as if the narrative we’ve been told for so long to “get ahead” has birthed this silent pressure looming overhead, regardless of what we're doing. But the more we rush to fit “more” in, the less we’re actually present enough to enjoy any of it.

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On Change

On Change

Whether we feel stuck or perhaps afraid of change, it only takes a step back to realize just how inevitable a force - far bigger than us and far beyond our control - change is.

When I came back home after just a few months of immersive soul-seeking, self-defining, view-shattering travel, I felt like an entirely different person. But it soon became clear that I wasn’t the only one who changed. I came home to find myself packed between moving boxes in friends’ apartments, introducing myself to new boyfriends and fiances, finding out about new buns in the oven, and congratulating others on new jobs.

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Defining Success

Defining Success

Have you ever taken a big enough step back to actually look at what definition of success is driving you? Maybe you’ve always just assumed it was the top of your career path. Recognition. Family. Money. Early retirement.

What if your definition of success was simply to be happy? Would you be doing as good of a job at it as you are in your day job right now? Would you need to keep chasing something 10 out?

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