A Swimming Summer
Over the summer holidays I’ve had the opportunity to delve into a course of study: The Science and Practice of Wellbeing. This course of study focussed on positive psychology. It’s been produced by The Langley Group. The biggest takeaway for me is first and foremost to extend compassion to oneself and others. * This fits with Jesus’ command to “love our neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
What is Wellbeing?
Wellbeing embraces our basic need to belong/be connected with oneself and others. It’s the study of what makes life worth living in all its complexity so that we flourish and live fulfilling lives. Previous mental health models were about fixing what is wrong with us. Wellbeing models focus on repairing the worst aspects while also building and nurturing our best qualities. Hence Mental Health and Wellbeing is a suitable term. This can be shortened to Wellbeing.
What about my feelings and mood?
While this course emphasised the importance of the Big 3 ie Diet, Sleep and Exercise for being well, it also added positive emotions for Wellbeing. Sue Langley from The Langley Group states that, “The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of your emotions”. (1) The science posits that you need to be creating environments where your positive emotions predominate over your negative ones on a daily basis. This then allows for creativity, learning and personal growth. It also helps reset the negativity bias in your brain, which can then spark increasing spirals to amplify positive emotions which produce dopamine. This hormone dopamine helps to enhance your mood in a natural process, which then builds hope and sustains positive moments.
Emotions are neither good or bad. However they contain data about us, others and the world. Emotions are data for us to manage, and both positive and negative are helpful. However, when we have low levels of positive emotion we are languishing/suffering with emotional distress and lack of fulfilment. The aim is to increase our positive emotion and reduce our negative emotion for high levels of Wellbeing. When we focus on generating positive emotions, even small actions can make a positive difference to our mood. Each positive action or choice can impact us and enable us to spread happiness within our social networks. https://www.trailstowellness.org/feelings-wheel
The evidence-base neuroscience shows how positive psychology provides meaningful insight and strategies to help us benefit from positive emotions to build wellbeing. These same positive emotions build resilience and propel us in upward spirals into growth and wellbeing. These same upward spirals help to expand our thinking, our intellect, our physical wellbeing and social reasoning.
The benefit of Positive Emotions
The UPWARD SPIRAL OF LIFESTYLE MANAGEMENT contributes to long-term wellbeing. Positive emotions produce a dopamine-fuelled brain which produces an upward spiral to help you make HEALTHY CHOICES.
So look for ways to generate more positive emotions daily, as it’s FUEL for your brain’s best function. The following have been proven effective to boost positive emotion:
- Savouring (relishing positive moments to keep them more enduring) (2)
- Gratitude (connects to sense of life’s awe and wonder) (3)
- Optimism (expecting things to go well, with our planning)
- Humour (laughter releases serotonin, dopamine)
- Mindfulness (increases curiosity and awareness, and dials down anxiety)
*I now have lots of suggestions for raising your level of wellbeing.
- (1) Module 1, Unit 1
- (2) Martin Seligman 1998
- Suggested reading: Julia Baird, Phosphoresence