A few years ago I became especially interested in positive psychology as the way of world perception. I have read a lot of books and articles on this topic and felt that positive thinking really helps me to overcome hardships.
I decided to study positive psychology after I have accidentally come across an online article about this field of psychology. I was a blog dedicated to mindful living and there the author wrote about positive phycology as the thing which helped her to overcome a difficult period in her life. I believe it was a kind of a sign in my life because at that time I felt very anxious due to the fact that it was a turbulent period in my life when I was thinking a lot about the priorities in my life and the future of my family.
Recently, the conception of positive phycology began to be actively criticized as far as it fails to fulfill its main purpose and only gives the illusion of being happy. I may agree with these arguments as far as some conditions cannot be approached just with the help of positive psychology. Still, I have to admit that it helped me a lot after I have broadened my understanding of this conception after watching the video by Tal Ben-Shabar called ‘Happiness 101’.
I would like to make especial emphasis on this lecture as far as professor Ben-Shabar gives a different interpretation of the concept of positive psychology that I have come across before. A lot of articles I have read advised to view the world from the positive side, meaning try to look for positive in everything, even entirely bad and unpleasant things and events.
I must confess that it was really difficult for me and I could not really always do this. For this reason, I felt even more miserable since I had a perfect tool for happy living in my hands but was not good and smart enough to use it. Only later I understood that a lot of people faced the same problem due to the fact that the concept of positive psychology is overused, misused and misused, misinterpreted and misunderstood.
The peculiarity of Tal Ben-Shabar’s approach consists in perceiving the objective reality with positive and negative experiences. Ben-Shabar emphasizes that positive psychology consists not in denying negative emotions but understanding the true nature of things. This assumption seems to be extremely obvious and even cheap, however, it has a very important idea in its essence.
People tend to remember and concentrate on those things which bring them strong emotions. What is more, people tend to be more affected exactly by negative emotions which means that we exaggerate the influence of unpleasant events in our life. Thus, we believe that our life is bad and we are unsuitable for our work, we cannot establish good relations with our partner and cope with own children. It is called to be the observational selection bias.
The idea of Tal Ben-Shabar is that we should better understand the good and the bad in our life which means that we are likely to notice that the good and the bad are balanced. Thus, the professor wants us to fight the observational selection bias and become more conscious about life.
Another important piece of advice by Tal Ben-Shabar is using correct language means and asking correct questions. The language we use is one of the ways of shaping our understanding and perception of the objective reality. Thus, the wording and intonations can have a great influence on the way we live. Instead of asking of the reasons for failure, we should better think about the new experience and knowledge we acquired after a mistake and how it may be beneficiary for us.
One more important idea by Tal Ben-Shabar in this approach to happiness is the importance of appreciation. As I have noticed before, there are many positive and pleasant things in our life that we tend not to notice as we take them for granted. Having a house, family, work, etc. seems to be a kind of norm but we cannot even imagine how many people around the world are disposed even of the opportunities to have all these things.
We are so used to kindness and help of our close people that take it for granted as something that even does not worth talking and thinking about. Tal Ben-Shabar claims that we make a great mistake in this way but it may be fixed if we try to pay more attention to the small good things which are done for us every day, like making a cup of coffee or helping with the door. Saying ‘thank you’ costs nothing but it is priceless.
At first glance, all these pieces of advice are too obvious but they entirely make sense if they are taken seriously and reckoned upon with the reflection of own life experience. Still, these are only tips and each of us it to find own receipt of happiness.