Tuesday, August 4

New Year’s Resolutions 2020: Increase Your Resilience With Positive Psychology

Do you want
some inspiration for New Year’s resolutions in 2020? Look no further. These 3
tips for personal growth are sure to help you in the next year, both
professionally as personally. As New Year’s resolutions notoriously do not
stick for everyone, I also have a suggestion on how to apply the tips I will
give you in this post.

What is positive
psychology?

Positive psychology
is “the scientific study of human flourishing and an applied approach to
optimal functioning”. (Positive
Psychology Institute
). Some of the keystones of this field of research are
that strengths are as important as weaknesses and we should focus on the best
things in life instead of only preventing the worst.

Positive
psychology may sound a bit fuzzy, but I assure you that the research results
show quite the opposite. Historically, psychology was all about curing
psychological ailments. However, it was not focused on key strengths of people
or on how to cultivate new positive habits. The drawback of this, was that once,
for example, the depression was treated, someone still was not happy.

This
changed in the last decades and positive psychology did not only have a
positive effect on healthy people, but also people who were struggling.

Some
positive side effects of applying one the techniques I will mention below are:

  • Increased
    resilience in stressful situations
  • More
    creativity
  • Even
    improve health and immune system

3 tips for your new year’s
resolutions in 2020

3 habits
that will really help you in the next year are scientifically proven to help
you to become more resilient, happier and more optimistic. Even if you’re not a
naturally optimistic person. The first 2 tips are grounded in positive
psychology and the last tip is about mindfulness (also a widely researched skill).

1.    
Dealing
with difficult situations with the ABCDE method

An
important skill is to redefine a difficult situation to a realistic outlook. We
are often inclined to always assume the worst when a less desirable situation
occurs. However, the worst case scenario is often not very realistic and makes
us unhappy. Moreover, it has been shown that overly pessimistic people tend to
be less biased for action. This in fact makes the pessimistic attitude even
worse.

What’s also
important to realize is that bad feelings follow your negative (often
unrealistic) thoughts. This is important knowledge, as it will help you to
reframe an existing situation, both at home and at work. You can use the ABCDE
approach for this.

It is
important to write this down for yourself, as it helps to internalize
everything and focus.

A in ABCDE: stands for the activating event. Describe here
as objectively as possible what happened. This could be someone yelling at you
at work, something you did wrong or something else that triggered the unwanted
behavior and emotion in you.

B in ABCDE: stands for the beliefs. Write down your thoughts
and beliefs about yourself and others triggered by the event here.

C in ABCDE: stands for consequence. Write down your basic negative
emotion here (anger, fear (including shame) and sadness). Next to this, write
down the physical sensations (stomach aches, headaches etc.). Also, write down
your behavior which was the consequence of the event (for example, getting
angry, worrying etc.)

D in ABCDE: stands for discussion. Write down critical
questions about the beliefs in step B. This will help you to get a more
realistic view of the objective event that happened in A. For example: “Does
everybody really think I’m stupid?” or “Does it really matter that much if
someone is angry at me?”.

E in ABCDE: stands for effective new thoughts, emotions and
behaviors.

Write down
more realistic thoughts here, based on the questions in step D. Write down the
new emotion you feel about the new (more realistic) thoughts and the new
physical sensation (for instance, “relief”, less headache etc.).

The new behavior
could be action driven or to simply not worry anymore.

2.    
Writing
down 3 positive things about your day

By maintaining
a diary each evening with at least 3 positive things, helps to cultivate an
optimistic mindset. The rationale is that it takes effort to have positive
thoughts, just as with learning another skill. You will have to create neural
pathways that get stronger with more practice. Just like learning any other new
skill.

3.    
Meditation
/ mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and give your immune system a boost. The big advantage is that initial effects of meditation are instantaneous and increase over time. It’s also quite simple and does not take that much time. For an example of an exercise, please refer to this blogpost I wrote earlier. There are also some good and free apps available (at least for the basics), such as Headspace.

How to not stop with your
new year’s resolutions

A lot of
people make New Year’s resolutions, but few keep them. That’s because creating
new behavior is very difficult. It’s important to start small however.

For
instance, if you want to start meditating, make sure to do this at set times.
For instance, each time you wake up or after you’ve had dinner. That way, you
learn to associate the new behavior with dinner, breakfast, or whatever.

It’s also
important to start small. If you want to meditate, start with 30 seconds or 1
minute. Often, when you’ve started it’s way easier to go on a little while
longer. When beginning with any new behavior, it’s more important to start and
to cultivate the new behavior than to achieve any measure of performance.

And don’t
stop when you’ve missed one or a couple of times. Just start over again. Once
the behavior is really in your system, you’ll be happy about it!

For more
details on cultivating new behavior, be sure to read this article.

Good luck
with your new year’s resolutions. I hope I’ve inspired you and help you to keep
at it in 2020!

If you
liked the post, don’t forget to like or share.

See you
back here next week for a new post!

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