People who meet me tend to perceive me as a positive person, but I’ll admit that I wasn’t always that way. I was quite the complainer growing up and blamed others if things didn’t go my way. My negativity improved through maturation over time, but my four years of psychiatric residency training certainly helped me become more self-aware. Learning about different psychotherapy techniques sharpened my skills even further, and one modality that I use involves Positive Psychotherapy.
What is Positive Psychotherapy (PPT)?
In a nutshell, Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman spearheaded the development and research of PPT as an intervention for treatment of depression and the theory consists of some of the following concepts:
– focus on the POSITIVE (factors that contribute to happiness and build upon one’s strengths)
– build POSITIVE EMOTIONS (about the past, present, and future)
– identify and utilize your STRENGTHS
- for example, if you’re a creative person, do things that bring out your creativity (such as writing, photography, etc). If you’re competitive, consider joining a recreational group or league
– instead of letting your strengths and talents go to waste, apply them towards something MEANINGFUL (such as in your job, community, family, religious institution, etc)
Naturally, this can take a lot of work/effort especially since our minds may automatically take us down a negative spiral in the face of challenge and negativity. With our often stressful and hectic lives, when something goes wrong, it seems like it requires more time and energy to switch to a positive mindframe. With that in mind, Seligman’s team developed a series of exercises to help shift your mind towards more positive thinking, one of which includes listing “3 good things” that went well during your day.
So, with a slight twist and in the spirit of PPT, I created a new series on my blog called “Thankful Thursdays” where I will list 3 things I’m thankful for from the week and I encourage all of you to do the same!
Here’s my list from this week:
1. Took advantage of living a few miles away from the beach and spent some time there to escape the triple digit California heat wave (picture above).
2. I’m thankful for my family stopping by my office to visit and instead of my usual routine of going home to check email and watch tv, I enjoyed quality time with them over a delicious meal.
Dinner in West Hollywood
3. Received a “sign” today which steered me in a different direction regarding a work project. I truly believe that when one door closes, another one opens, so I’m staying focused and optimistic!
On a boat in South Lake Tahoe
What 3 things are you thankful for?
Seligman, M. E. P., Rashid, T., & Parks, A.C. (2006). Positive psychotherapy. American Psychologist, 61, 774-778.
Photo Credits: Marlon Santos (Diamond Reel Media), Alex Manipod
Disclaimer: this post describes one therapeutic technique and should not be used to replace treatment with your primary clinicians