There's so much talk these days about positivity. The Positive Psychology movement has really taken off and we hear about it in the media regularly now. It makes good sense to think about ourselves in a positive light, to work towards being positive and to see others in the same light. Our reactions to situations we face can lead to responses that can be positive or less helpful. There is perhaps a danger though that we focus so much on being positive that we don't really understand the full extent of what Positive Psychology is saying. Understanding this will avoid us seeing positivity in a superficial or simplistic way.
The main point to remember is that being positive doesn't always mean that we only experience positive emotions. This would be unrealistic and pretty unhelpful. There are times when it is normal and healthy to feel sad or upset, even angry. These feelings help us to truly be in touch with ourselves and our experiences. They can help us to harness some energy that we wouldn't otherwise have.
Other aspects of positive psychology include the work that we can keep doing to understand ourselves. We might have been doing this already so we don't want to throw out what we know. Rather we can review it or reshape it drawing on positive psychology principles.
Beginning with our values is a good place to start to think about positivity. We know that our values can guide our thinking and our behavior, perhaps be guiding principles for how we live our lives. If we feel unsettled it could be that our thoughts and behavior are out of synch with our values. We might have lost sight of what values are most important to us, or we may have had a clash of values or felt pressured to behave in ways that are inconsistent with our values.
So we can begin to explore ways to develop positivity by thinking about our values. We could list many values and then break them down to our core values - perhaps things like having respect for ourselves and others, honesty, living life to the full could be some of them. These can help us to define who we are, feel confident in ourselves and the way we live our lives and guide our future directions. A regular review can help us to check in on how the values are working for us and whether we have learned some things that create opportunities to make some changes to our core values.
Knowing our values can help us towards positivity by helping us to feel good about ourselves, feel confident in our relationships and guide ourselves towards positive directions. They sit underneath any of the other thinking or actions we might take towards positivity. We will find that we keep coming back to them, either consciously or unconsciously, when faced with life choices or ways to resolve problems.