Many people have tried mainstream methods, such as psychotropic medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy, to fight mental health conditions. Some individuals who have suffered from depression, anxiety and other disorders have found that these conventional means of dealing do not always have satisfactory results. Finding the right psychotropic medication can be a trial-and-error process; although some people are able to find relief with their first prescription, many others need to try multiple medications (often with negative side effects) before they find a medication or combination of medications that help them. In terms of therapy, some people struggle to become comfortable discussing personal issues with someone, especially a stranger. Other people may not be able to form a positive connection with a therapist, leading them to stop therapy and forgo searching for someone new (for fear the same thing will happen again). For this and other reasons, people often turn to alternative means to find reprieve from their mental health ailments.
One way in which you can utilize positive psychology is to AIM for a more positive life. AIM is an acronym for Attending, Interpreting and Memorizing. Let’s talk about each of these in a bit more detail.
Attending is something many of us fail to do, especially when it comes to the positive doings in our lives. However, we are quick to beat ourselves up and put ourselves down when things go wrong; this is counterproductive to positive psychology. In part, we are not to blame – we are bombarded with negative messages nearly every minute of every day – from co-workers, family members, the news and social media, to name just a few. It’s no wonder we become programmed to only think about negativity. But in order to find true happiness, we must break that cycle. So the next time something good happens to you, revel in it, for at least a few minutes. Awaken each day with a positive attitude by saying “Today is going to be a good day”. The more you focus on the positive aspects of your life, the more it will become a lifelong (and excellent) habit to have.
Interpreting the events in your life can have a huge impact on your attitude and outlook. Take the following example – you are standing in a crowded room and someone bumps into you, causing you to spill the contents of your drink on your new shirt. You can interpret this several different ways; negatively, in which you believe the person bumped into you on purpose, positively, in which the person bumped into you by accident due to the crowded room, or neutrally, as in things happen and it’s not a big deal. If you think about it negatively, you are more likely to become angry and agitated, leading you to feel upset and probably have a bad time. If you think about things in a positive or neutral way, you are more likely to feel fine about what just happened, realizing it was out of your control. This leads to more optimistic feelings about the situation. Try your best to interpret the actions in your life in a positive (or at the very least, neutral) light.
Memorizing the positive events in your life gives you something to fall back to in times of need. Some people have an amazing ability to create vivid mental pictures in their mind of positive times; others may need to make a conscience effort to remember the events. Take photographs of special times in your life that you can go back to when you are feeling down. If you enjoy reading about special events, try keeping a journal of important times in your life. Read the journal on a regular basis to keep a positive influence in your life; you can also consult the journal when times get tough.
By AIMing for a more positive life, you allow yourself to be more focused and optimistic, which can help you to overcome anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. For some people, the power of positivity can be enough to overcome the oppression of mental illness. For others, positive psychology can (and should) be used in conjunction with medication and/or therapy. Only you know the best course of action for yourself, but a little (or a lot) of positivity never hurt anyone.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/55236839@N00/3098125602