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    Happiness Series: How to Find Your Purpose

    We have come to the last installment of the Happiness Series. In this post, we will discuss how we can find our purpose in life and how purpose contributes to our happiness. If you want to read the two previous posts, you can click the links below:

    Gratitude and Optimism

    Resilience

    Purpose

     

    WHAT IS PURPOSE?

    Have you ever felt lost in life? Do you feel unsure of the reason why you exist? If so, you are not alone. I am sure there are also people who feel the same. I, for one, feel this way too. There are people who are saying that most of us do not really know what we are doing or if the things we are currently doing have any impact. This feeling of being lost in life is also known as a “crisis” such as quarter-life crisis, third-life crisis or mid-life crisis. The antidote to this kind of feeling, I believe, is reconnecting to one’s purpose.

    Purpose is a person’s reason for being.

    Without purpose, life would be chaotic and depressing. The feeling of meaninglessness is one of the symptoms of depression. We can overcome depression if we will be able to feel that there is still a good reason to continue with life. It will also help if we are optimistic and resilient.  The feeling of being purposeful helps us to be happy and fulfilled.

    Martin Seligman considers having purpose as a pillar of happiness. Happiness is the state of feeling positive emotions, capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly and holding a sense of purpose. The more we are able to fulfill our purpose, the happier we are.

    There are a lot of things that are attributed to purpose. Sometimes, it is related to someone’s responsibilities. For example in the Filipino culture, we take upon ourselves the responsibilities of providing for our families even when we already have our own. The purpose of Filipino children is often to get his family out of poverty. Other times, purpose is attributed to doing charitable acts towards the less fortunate. Sometimes, it is our calling or our vocation. A person’s definition of purpose may differ to the other. It is up to us on how we will define our purpose.

    MY JOURNEY TOWARDS PURPOSE

    In high school, I was this shy, insecure girl who does not know what she wants to be. My Mama suggested I should be a teacher like her while my Papa wants me to take up Accountancy because he believes it is a high paying job. Although I appreciate their suggestions, I have never thought of becoming a teacher nor an accountant. I dislike the idea of teaching noisy children as I believe that I tend to be impatient with them. I never considered taking up Accountancy because I believe I am terrible with Math and the course is filled with it.

    I was tempted to take Mass Communication because I was influenced by my cousin who took the same course. I considered it because one of my passion is writing. However, I later talked my self out of it because I dreaded public speaking. I do not believe that I would be an effective speaker.

    When I asked my friends what they would be taking up in college, they answered different courses. Some plan to take up Human Resource, some want to take up Nursing. Others want to be teachers. Again, I was persuaded to try applying for colleges and courses they applied to. I did not want to be separated from my friends because I value them so much. However, I realized that it is inevitable to be separated from them as we have different interests and goals in life.

    So, I started reading books and magazines about college life. It has been my habit to read about the things I am going to experience because it will help me prepare for it. In one section of a teen magazine, I read a column from a counselor answering a letter sender’s question about what the course Psychology is about and what jobs she could do when she finishes the course.

    Psychology.

    It was a new term for me. I even pronounced it as phy-si-ko-logi. Despite being unfamiliar with the term, I got interested with the counselor’s answer. She told the letter sender that Psychology studies about human behavior and a graduate of that program has a lot of career options to choose from. I researched more about Psychology and the more I learned about it, the more I become interested.

    I hoped that there is someone I could talk to about my thoughts and help me arrive to a decision. I even tried writing to the counselor in that magazine to help me. I read in the internet that it is a counselor’s job to help students with career problems. However, guidance counselors in the public schools in the Philippines are known to be disciplinarians. I thought I might be scolded by just reaching out to them so I did not pushed through meeting with one.

    After some serious pondering, I decided to take Psychology as my course in college.

    In college, I learned how fascinating Psychology is and that I was good at it. I excelled in class and I was a consistent dean’s lister. In my fourth year, I was greatly inspired by my professors in my major that I aimed to be an academician too. My desire to teach and guide the youth was fueled within me.  

    LIVING MY PURPOSE

    A few months after graduation, I applied to a guidance counselor position in a private university near our home. I was not expecting it but I got accepted. I was shocked because I applied to different companies as an HR associate but I was not accepted to any of it. Now, I am hired as a counselor. The realization that maybe I am meant to be in this field hit me.

    I encountered a lot of students who struggled with mental and emotional health concerns in my work as a counselor. I strived to be that person that helps students with their personal and career problems. An assistance I did not have access to when I was still studying. I realized that a lot of teens struggle with the same concerns I struggled with in high school and college. They need help and I want to be of help.

    A few months being a counselor, I realized that my purpose is to help people with their mental health concerns. I want to guide them in reaching their fullest potential and living the best life they could ever have. I want to teach them to love themselves and build their self-esteem because it is very important in achieving success.

    My goals may have evolved now but that purpose to educate people about mental health and guide them through life still remain. This is even the purpose of this blog. I am combining my love for psychology and writing in this passion project. It makes me so happy to be seeing the people I helped grow and improve.

    I can confidently say that I already found my purpose or my ikigai.

    HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR IKIGAI?

    Telling you about my story makes it look like I had it all figured out but let me tell you that is not true. I was not able to appreciate what I experienced and kept on looking for my purpose. I stumbled upon the term ikigai, which is the Japanese term for purpose and I realized after some thought that I am already living it.

    Here is a helpful worksheet from Lavendaire which I got from Pinterest. She also has videos about finding your sweet spot which I find very helpful. You can check out her channel too. She is one of my favorites.

    Find what you love

    This could be your interests and/or passions. For me, my passion is teaching or sharing what I learn. I am passionate about writing and I advocate strongly for mental health. Try assessing yourself about the things you are inclined to do.  What are the things you are interested about? What causes do you stand for? What sparks joy in you?

    Discover what you are good at

    I will not buy it if you will tell me that you are not good at anything. We all have talents. Some may be shy about it while some are not yet aware of it. But I encourage you to rationally think about your strengths. Reflect on your achievements even those small victories you had. Think about what things you excel at. Consider the things other people tell you that you are good at. Sometimes, other people can see things we are not aware of. In my view, I know that I am good in Psychology and I can work well with people.

    Learn what the world needs

    Technology have evolved in such great lengths but I am sure that not all of the problems experienced by the world are already solved. There is still something that needs to be addressed. Find that thing that you advocate about and stand up for it. Try volunteering to different causes to find out what you resonate deeply about. What services or help can you offer to others? For me, I really feel deeply towards mental health.

    If you think that the field you are interested in is already saturated and that everything has been done already, listen to me when I say that you are still needed. Do not get discouraged. I watched this video from Marie Forleo wherein she taught a very valuable reminder. There are people who are waiting for you to speak up so stand up and do so.

    Explore opportunities that you can be paid for

    Truth be told, money is an essential tool in life. It provides for our basic needs as well as our wants. We use it so that we can be of help to others and fulfill our purpose. Find out what jobs you can do that will provide you with enough financial resource.

    CALL TO ACTION

    There are things you can do to find it out. You can use the worksheet above and you will realize a lot of things. Take the time to sit down and ponder about these things. It will be truly worth it as you will not only find what your purpose is but you will also expand your awareness about yourself.

    Here are some things you can do:

    • Find out what your purpose is by using the worksheet. List down all the things that is asked for in a sheet of paper: what do you love, what are you good at, what does the world need and what can you be paid for.
    • Identify what are some of the hindrances that prevent you from living your purpose. What are some of the things you can do to break these hindrances?
    • Connect with me through my social media accounts which you can find at the top right corner of this website and let us talk about the realizations/takeaways you have obtained from this post.
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    Mental Health

    Happiness Series: Resilience

    In celebration of the Mental Health Awareness month, all the blog posts for May will center on Happiness. The following topics will be discussed:

    Gratitude and Optimism

    Resilience

    Purpose

    “Life doesn’t get easier and more forgiving. We get stronger and more resilient”


    Steve Maraboli

    Have you ever felt so down because of life circumstances yet in your own little way you continue to push through with life and believe in a better future?

    If yes, then you are able to practice resilience.

    WHAT IS RESILIENCE?

    Resilience is a person’s ability to adapt to challenges and “bounce back” after a fall. This is related to happiness as resilient people tend to feel the most joy.

    When hardships fell upon resilient people, they will surely feel down but their strong belief that there is a good reason why they experience such challenge in life push them to continue on. They have good self-esteem and they believe that they have what it takes to overcome the challenge. They have a strong social support but are also highly differentiated from others. Differentiated people do not base their worth to someone or something.

    I have seen a video of the Iron Lady of Pakistan in my Facebook newsfeed last time and thought that she is a perfect example of a resilient person. She has experienced so many hardship that made her lose a lot of things like her ability to walk and conceive an offspring. However, she rose above her challenges and came out stronger. If you want to watch the video, I linked it here. You would not help but be inspired too.

    Filipino people are said to be resilient. The Philippines encounters a lot of natural disasters and experience extreme poverty but we can still smile, be happy and go on with our lives. The country even ranked 69th in the United Nations Annual World Happiness Report for 2019.

    Resilience need not be shown only in severe situations. In fact, according to American Psychological Association, resilience is ordinary. A lot of people exhibit it. May it be in a simple stressful situation (e.g. you forgot your wallet in your home while you’re on your way to school or work), or a severe one (e.g. death of a loved-one, break-up or hitting rock bottom with finances), resilience can be demonstrated by not thinking about the situation as a “paralyzing event but instead taking this situation as a learning opportunity”. With this information, we can be confident that we can also develop strong resilience in our selves.

    But why is it important to build resilience? I believe that most mental health concerns, like depression, are rooted to the underdeveloped self-esteem and self-efficacy which results to instable resilience too. Resilience is important so that we can go forth with our lives despite all the challenges we are facing.

    Resilience is also linked with happiness. Let us go back to the definition stated by Martin Seligman about happiness which I discussed in the first installment of this series. You can read the first post here.

    Happiness is the state of feeling positive emotions, capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly and holding a sense of purpose.

    One facet of happiness is our ability to recover from the negative emotions and I interpreted it as resilience.

    HOW CAN WE BUILD RESILIENCE?

    I am writing this blog post about resilience for myself just as much as it is for you, my dear reader. This is something that I am still working in myself too. I researched on this so that I will know how I can develop resilience and I am sharing with you what I learned. Here are some of the things that I learned:

    Work on your self-esteem.

    People with healthy self-esteem are confident and positive. They know their strengths well and they are accepting of their weaknesses. They trust themselves that they are capable enough to surpass the challenges they encounter

    People with low self-esteem have a tendency to sabotage their selves. They talk ill about themselves and judge themselves critically. However, when we are in a difficult situation, the last thing our selves need is another mental torture. Imagine having a friend who is grieving from a loss or a failure, how would you approach that friend? Would you bring him down further or would you support him as he thrive to overcome the adversity? You would surely choose the latter, right? Treat yourself the way you would treat that friend.

    How can we apply this tip? Take a day (or even only just a few hours) and do some self-reflection. Do a little SWOT analysis and identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Through better self-awareness, you will be confident in solving your problems and will contribute to the improvement of self-efficacy.

    Strengthen relationships.

    Social support is a very integral factor in overcoming problems. Withdrawal from interacting with loved-ones might cause feelings of loneliness and discouragement. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Nobody is an island. It is okay to share your feelings and problems with someone. It does not mean that you are adding burden to them. More often than not, people are willing to help. Just reach out to someone you trust. If you think you have no one to talk to, remember your family, friends, significant others, colleagues or even a mental health professional. There are billions of people in the world. Surely, there is someone who would listen and empathize. There is someone who would inspire or help you get out of the rut you are in. There is someone who can help.

    How can we apply this tip? Re-connect with a friend or a family member. Meet up and do a catch-up session about the current happenings between the two of you. Call someone you love and chat. If you can, hug someone. Hugs are said to be instant stress reliever. Enjoy the warmth and comfort that hug brings.

    Look forward with faith.

    Resilient people trust life. They know that life is a series of ups and downs. They have accepted that life is and will never be perfect. They are thankful with rock bottom situations as this entails the opportunity to “bounce” back even higher.

    Hope is another important thing in life. When you have hope, you believe in positive things that will come in the future. We can develop hope when we opt to look at the brighter side of life. We can have hope if we trust ourselves and the Higher Being governing us that there is truly something to look forward in life.

    Aside from hope, purpose/meaning is also very vital. When a person knows what his purpose is, he can effectively bounce back after a challenge as he knows what it is he needs to do. Positive thinking is also a key factor.

    How can we apply this tip? Set goals that you want to accomplish in the near future. Write your own bucket list of the things you want to do. Look back to these things when you feel unmotivated or down. Choose to always look at the brighter side of life.

    MY PERSONAL STORY

    Although I am still a work in progress when it comes to resilience, I had my fair share of triumph after hitting rock bottom. Let me share my own personal story. After a break-up a few years ago, I thought that life is meaningless. I thought there is nothing better for me. I was very bitter, negative and cynical. I lost hope that I would ever find love again. I believe this attitude was brought by my low self-esteem. I have nothing to look forward to. Until a church leader counseled me and he said that “the best antidote to a broken heart is giving or being charitable.” I took his advice and focused on my work as a counselor and with my duty in the church. I also reconnected with my family and bonded with my friends.

    True enough, I regained my purpose when I realized how much impact I can make to other people. I realized that the world does not end with my broken heart. Instead, I can use it to make a difference in the world. I learned how loved I am by my family and friends. I realized there is so much to life than having a romantic partner.

    The healing after a break-up was when I also felt the prettiest. I took the time to take care of myself. I worked out and I ate right. I started meditating and journaling. I started a new set of good habits and I felt great. However, I needed to work more on my mindset as I tend to be pessimistic. This was the time I read a lot of self-help articles, dived in to self-development and assessed my values in life. I held on to the belief that a friend once told me, “every heart break is a step towards the right person.” I started to find out what my values really are and what my goals are. I learned how it is I like to be treated by a future boyfriend. Finally, I realized my worth.

    During that difficult time in my life, my life saver were my friends and family members who supported me all through out. They reminded me that love never ran out of my life after that person left me. They reminded me that they are still here no matter what happens. I also held on tight to the hope that there is something better in store for me. Though it is not easy, I learned to trust the timing of my life. Finally, the new knowledge I learned about myself pushed me to be a little more confident. My purpose in life is not dependent to that person. I learned I have the capability to create it myself.

    Being okay after a rock bottom is not easy. Sometimes you will see you are moving forward, other times you will feel that you are going back to the bottom. It is normal, my dear. If you ever feel impatient with overcoming your setback, remember this:

     

     

     

     

    ANNOUNCEMENT:

    I have decided to disable my blog’s IG account and connect my personal account to this blog. I realized after three weeks of managing both the blog’s IG and FB account plus maintaining my personal accounts too is difficult. I knew I needed to lessen the accounts I am managing so that I will be able to give more value to my audience.

    If you want to follow me outside this blog, you can click on the links below. I promise to give value and positivity to your feed.

    INSTAGRAM

    • This is my personal account where I post bits and pieces about my life. I often post IG stories too about my realization on things as well as my advocacies (e.g. mental health and environment).

    FACEBOOK

    • This is where I post recent blog posts as well as other uplifting posts. If you are looking for a break from a toxic feed full of rants, horrible news and other things, you will surely enjoy the things I post here in the FB page. Like us now and tell your friends about it!

     

     

     

    References:

    Philippines A Happier Country in 2019, Says UN Study. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/21/19/philippines-a-happier-country-in-2019-says-un-study

    Resilience in Positive Psychology: Bouncing Back and Going Strong. Retrieved from https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-in-positive-psychology/

    The Road to Resilience. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience

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    Mental Health

    Happiness Series: Gratitude and Optimism

    In celebration of the Mental Health Awareness month, all the blog posts for May will center on Happiness. The following topics will be discussed:

    Gratitude and Optimism

    Resilience

    Purpose

     

    “How to be happy”

    “How to increase happiness?”

    “How to find happiness?”

    If you will check my Google search history, you will see that these are some of the topics I searched for. I did this because of three reasons: (1) I am curious about happiness, (2) It is a topic I was assigned to talk about in a seminar, and (3) it is a pep talk for me whenever I feel down and lonely.

    Happiness is the summon bonum, meaning it is humans’ ultimate goal. We work hard for money because we want to be happy. We aim for fame because we want to be happy. We search for freedom and for love because we want to be happy. All our goals lead to our desire to be happy.

    WHAT IS HAPPINESS?

    We cannot achieve happiness if we do not know what it means to us. We can set our own definition of what happiness is ( sometimes food means happiness, right?) but Martin Seligman, a psychologist and pioneer of the Positive Psychology theory, defined happiness as:

    The state of feeling positive emotions, capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly and holding a sense of purpose.

    If we will break down the definition, there are three things that define happiness: positive emotions, recovery from the negative and sense of purpose. I believe that if we will work on these three aspects, we will be able to increase feelings of happiness.

    In each blog post this month, we will digest each of these three aspects. For this first post, we will discuss about positive emotions.

    Positive emotions are considered “tiny engines” of Positive Psychology. To feel positive emotions, gratitude and optimism are key factors. Researching about happiness, I saw this list of things we can do to increase happiness that Sin & Lyubomirsky (2009) enumerated (they are both positive psychologists). They listed expressing gratitude and thinking positively about the future (a.k.a optimism) as two of the three things we can do to be happier.

    WHAT IS GRATITUDE?

    Harvard Medical School defined gratitude as:

    “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives… As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature or a higher power”

    This is the definition I have shared because it captured the whole essence of what gratitude is. But in simple terms, gratitude is feeling and expressing thankfulness.

    I believe that cases of depression and anxiety increase because people do not practice gratitude as much as they should. We tend to compare ourselves to others and we focus on things they have that we think we do not have. The things we believe we lack are magnified to us by our own minds and we feel inadequate.

    I have been a victim of the Comparison Trap myself.

    I would see other successful people who seem to have it all and I would compare myself to them. Instantly, all the good things I have, all the blessings I received and all the achievements I gained seem non-existent. This has lowered my self-esteem. The fear of not being good enough has taken over me. It prevented me to experience things which I would have enjoyed and learned a lot of things from.

    Convinced that I need to improve my mindset, I decided to journal the things I am grateful for each day. It could be big things or mundane things, tangible or intangible. I just list it all down. By doing so, I am able to reflect on my day with “positivity” glasses on. Gratitude journaling also helped me realize my skills and talents which make me feel more confident and happy with myself.

    GRATITUDE BREEDS OPTIMISM

    Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

    If you feel grateful and you appreciate that your glass has water in it, you will take the half-full mindset. You will think that you are blessed no matter how much content there is in your glass.

    We live in the world we think we live. Our mindset affects how happy we are in life. If we hold a pessimistic mindset, what we will see are all negative, dark and sad. But if we work on seeing the positive, our lives will feel happier and lighter. Plus, optimism can be contagious too. You have the power to have that positive influence to others.

    The concept of manifestation and law of attraction are created through the practice of optimism. Believers of this concept think that if we set our mind into that thing we want or if we behave as if we are already in the place we are dreaming of, our desires will manifest into reality. In addition, optimistic people are more likely to live longer because they feel less stressed than their pessimistic counterparts. There are truly a lot of benefits in just taking a positive mindset.

    Moreover, cognitive psychologists also believe that our mind is a very important factor to what we feel and how we behave. Therapies like Cognitive Behavior Therapy center on reframing the negative core beliefs of a person to more positive and helpful beliefs. It is challenging to change and improve our mindset but it is certainly doable.

    What can we do then? Choose gratitude and optimism every day.

    CHOOSE TO BE POSITIVE

    One thing we can do to improve our mindset is to consistently choose to be grateful and optimistic. When you hear your inner critic reprimanding you for not being good enough, try to think of counter arguments that do not support the lies it is telling you. Acknowledge your skills, talents and achievements. Be grateful of even the most mundane things. Do all this consistently until it becomes a habit.

    But I know this is not easy. It needs consistency and determination to really change our mindset. Good thing is we can start small.

    CALL TO ACTION

    I lost my habit of journaling a few months ago. This time, I want to re-build habits I think will be helpful for me to live my life to the fullest. I want to do journaling again and list down all the things I am thankful for. I want to be more mindful and more optimistic. Journaling would be one habit I can do to develop these traits.

    I invite you to join me in this week’s challenge. You may choose one (or you can choose all three) action below and do it for seven (7) days straight.

    What can we do to develop gratitude and optimism?

    • Start a gratitude journal where you can list and write about all the things you are grateful for each day
    • Reflect on your skills, talents and achievements. Write it all down on a notebook. Then create a mantra you can tell yourself whenever doubt and pessimism knocks.
    • Post in your social media accounts (Facebook timeline, Facebook My Day, IG feed or IG stories) about the things you are grateful for. You can post at least one thing per day. Use the hashtag #GratefulOptimist so that I can see your posts (and I will know I have accountability partners! Yay!) or tag The Uplifting Space to your posts.

    Start cultivating a happy mind and you will see that success will follow.

     

     

     

    References:

    Positive Emotions and Well-Being by Dr. Marianna Pogosyan. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-cultures/201611/positive-emotions-and-wellbeing

    TED Talk: How To Make Stress Your Friend by Dr. Kelly McGonigal

    The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

    The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha

    What is Gratitude and Why is it so Important. Retrieved from http://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-appreciation

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