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  • Jessica Abegglen, LPC, NBCC

Incorporating Positive Psychology into the New Year

The end of the year is such a mixed bag of emotions:

There can be so much joy that comes from the holidays and so much excitement about the coming year.

At the same time, there can be regret about missed opportunities or guilt over past choices. Even fear about the future can keep us stuck in a negative mindset.

...All triggered by the flipping of a calendar page.

Personally, as I sit and reflect on 2018, I find it difficult not to have a laundry list of things that I wish I had done differently, situations I wish had gone differently, things/places/people I wish I had given more of my attention to, etc...

It takes intentional effort to force myself to leave those negative emotions in the past and to focus, instead, on the things that DID go well and the things that DID turn out great (even when I want to focus on the positive and I want to let go of the negative- it's not easy!)

I would rather celebrate what is going well versus harp on what's not. I want to feel proud of what I've accomplished while pushing a little harder in areas I know I can be better. And of course, I want to spend time with the people who make me smile. I'm willing to bet most of us want some variety of these things, too. The question is: how?

Enter: Positive Psychology

What is Positive Psychology? Well, according to Martin Seligman, (who is seen as the founding father of Positive Psychology), Positive Psychology is:

The scientific study of human strengths and virtues...[It is] the study of what constitutes the pleasant life, the engaged life, and the meaningful life.” (Read more here)

Martin Seligman created the PERMA model (Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments) to help us better understand what leads to feelings of happiness, which then dictates where to focus our time and energy. He believes anyone can find happiness by focusing on the things that have the potential to lead to happiness and letting go of the things that don't/can't. Simply put:

it's focusing on the positive versus getting stuck in the negative.

It really is that simple (in theory, anyway - it can be very difficult in practice).

[Check out this infograph from for a nice overview. Download a printable version HERE.]

Seligman believes that it doesn't take huge changes to cultivate happiness; it can be small things - like a tiny adjustments in your focus - to generate large amounts of happiness.

So, my 2019 New Years resolution is to cultivate a little bit more happiness in my life by finding the positive in every situation, engaging in activities that make me smile, spending more time with the people that bring me joy, and congratulating myself for what I have accomplished.

Don't get caught up in the could've, would've, should've's - leave all that exactly where it was...

in 2018.

When 2019 rolls around, cultivate a little more happiness in your life by focusing on positive emotions, engaging in activities that bring you joy, focusing on relationships that make you smile, looking for meaning in the things you do, and acknowledging your accomplishments.

Wishing you gobs of happiness in 2019,



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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]

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