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March 27, 2012

If You’re Happy and You Know It, Tell Your Therapist.

“It takes but one positive thought, when given a chance to survive and thrive, to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.” ~ Robert Schuller

There is something to be said for positive thinking.

When I imagine how much different the world would be should all psychologists adapt to treating their clients using positive psychology, something to the extent of rainbows, lollipops, fluffy clouds, blue skies, and unicorns make up the backdrop for the scenes that play through my mind.

All kidding aside, I think a very strong shift can take place should we stop asking people what’s wrong and begin saying what’s right.

Last Friday we were honored to have one of the pioneers in the field of positive psychology on the show with us, Jeremy McCarthy, and per his suggestion I decided to spark up a conversation with my husband based on a positive question.

So instead of the usual how was your day, which generally would be followed up with a list of all of the crap that went wrong that day, I reworded my question and asked him specifically what the best part of his day was. Skeptical, I am always skeptical, but I have to tell you, we got through an entire conversation without arguing or trying to prove which of us had a rougher day. I was pleasantly surprised.

Jeremy was kind enough to explain a few of the principles of positive psychology. Just a few basics to help us all understand a bit better about the shift taking place not only in the world of therapy, but in general these are some things we can all adapt to.

1. “One of the key principles of positive psychology is that it asks positive questions. Positive psychology is based on the idea that it asks what’s right with people, or what do we want more of out of life, rather than thinking about what’s wrong with people. That’s something we can apply in business and our personal lives.

2. “Another principle of positive psychology is the idea that human flourishing is more than just the absence of illness. In health and psychology in the past we have focused on trying to remove all of the problems that people have, if you remove all of the health problems that people have than that’s going to make people healthy. We’ve kind of been focused on how do you take someone from a negative five to a zero. Positive psychology tries to take someone who is already at a zero and bring them to a plus five or a plus ten. We can do better than just removing the negative from our lives.”

3. “There’s a percentage of our happiness that’s under our ability to control. Approximately 40 percent of peoples’ happiness is under their control. You can actually decide how you’re going to react to the events that are happening in your life, and there are actions that you can take to increase your happiness. What are the areas that we can actually manipulate the circumstances that we find ourselves in to create more happiness?

4. “It’s not only about happiness. Flourishing is a description of well being that includes things like positive emotions and pleasurable experiences, which is what most people think of when you use the word happiness, but it also includes things like having a sense of accomplishment, and having good relationships, and having a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. Sometimes those things don’t necessarily go hand in hand with happiness. Sometimes to have a really great sense of meaning, you might have to go through things that are not necessarily enjoyable.”

These are just some very basic things that Jeremy went over, but they really make sense to me. You can listen to the entire interview with Jeremy below.

Bonus:

“If we boil this down to the most basic of levels and think about what the word yoga really means, yoke: union, joining together; and we look at what social media means on the most basic of levels, they mean the same thing. They’re essential a literal translation of one another in some ways. In the spirit of that union there’s also a lot of separation that happens.” ~ Mariah Rooney

Listen to the entire show with Mariah Rooney and Jeremy McCarthy below:

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Editor: Jennifer Cusano

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