For the purpose of this article, it is necessary to clarify a few common myths that are associated with Positive Psychology to help remove the notion that this field of science resembles that of a bouncy cheerleading group and couldn’t possibly be of any value to those truly in need, as this is severely not the case!
The truth of the matter is:
Positive Psychology is NOT about “being happy all of the time”.
Positive Psychology is NOT about removing negative emotions.
Positive Psychology is NOT all about positive thinking.
While it would be unrealistic to discuss all facets of Positive Psychology and how this amazing field of study can be utilised, in just one piece, I have decided to discuss one of the most important aspects of Positive Psychology in regards to how it can help alleviate unnecessary stress levels which impact upon an individual’s health in many negative and debilitating ways: The Power of Meditation
When typing in “what is mediation”, into a commonly known search engine, Google, comes up with the following description:
the action or practice of meditating.
“a life of meditation”
contemplation, thought, thinking, musing, pondering, consideration,reflection, prayer, deliberation, study, rumination, cogitation, brooding,mulling over, reverie, brown study, concentration, speculation;
“cultivating the presence of God in meditation and prayer”
a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject.
plural noun: meditations
“this is not a mythopoetic meditation on manhood, it’s a historical study”
To simplify this, meditation is merely the act of creating stillness and relaxation of the body and careful, focused attention within ones’ mind and body, moment by moment.
In today’s hustle and bustle lifestyle it is not uncommon to be on auto pilot for most of the day. The act of slowly down and taking time to stop and do nothing but mindfully check in, within yourself, does wonders for both the mind and the body and automatically decreases high stress levels. Unfortunately, it is hard for most people to understand the importance of stopping, relaxing and focusing your mind and attention on your internal self in the “here and now”; by being completely present in the moment. The benefits of this cannot be fully explained in this one article, however some valid and distinguishing points should be highlighted to encourage the facilitation of this, including:
- Meditation (also known as mindfulness meditation) has shown to decrease stress, anxiety and depression. Forty years of research within community, adult, student and clinical health areas have produced substantial evidence that indicates meditation reduces negative mental health symptoms such as stress and anxiety (Baer, 2003; Brown, Ryan & Creswell, 2007;)
- In addition to reducing theses negative effects, there is also evidence to support that it increases psychological health and wellbeing, such as gaining higher control over negative emotional enhancing stimuli (Brown, Ryan & Creswell, 2007; Creswell, Way, Eisenberger & Lieberman, 2007).
- By practising the act of mindfulness mediation, you are actually creating new neural pathways within your brain that encourage and increase memory retention, increases your ability to learn new tasks, creates more understanding of others and enhances your decision making skills. You can also become more creative and enhance the closeness of your relationships. All of this – just by stopping, focusing on your internal self and observing without emotional attachment or judgement!
There is so much more to Positive Psychology than most realise and if you really want to change your life for the better, I urge you to find out as much as possible about this fascinating field of science for yourself.
Jamie Rose is a professional Positive Psychology practitioner.