Welcome back! We are excited to bring to life the science behind human flourishing, emotional intelligence, and neuroscience in 2023. Let’s start the year by summarising our top seven positive psychology practices.

These are practical and research-backed ways to increase happiness, wellbeing, and effectiveness – in life, at work, at home and with the people you care for, help and lead. Together we can change the world, one neuron at a time!

1. Positive Emotion

Generating positive emotions helps broaden and build our resources and moves us toward greater wellbeing. Positive emotions allow us to think more flexibly and creatively. We develop more ideas, and they tend to be of better quality.

According to Barbara Fredrickson, who developed the Broaden and Build Theory, they also make us more willing to try new strategies and reach out to others.

The psychological and social resources we build when we experience positive emotions buffer life’s challenges, keep us optimistic and curious about the future, and propel us in an upward spiral of happiness and wellbeing.

“Positivity puts the brakes on negativity. In a heartbeat, negativity can spike your blood pressure; positivity can calm it. Positivity works like a reset button.”

– Barbara Fredrickson –

2. Mindset

Adopting a positive attitude and growth mindset enhances learning and opens our minds to new ways to raise happiness. According to Carol Dweck, a Stanford University professor who discovered the concept of growth mindset, the attitudes that make up our mindset aren’t as set as we think.

When we have a fixed mindset, we believe basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are static traits, so we may avoid developing them. When we have a growth mindset, we see ourselves as a work in progress. They believe they can nurture their abilities through dedication and hard work. Their love of learning makes them more motivated, resilient, and successful.

To practice a growth mindset, emphasise what you are learning each time you try something new. Focus on your progress toward a goal and challenge self-limiting assumptions.

“In a Growth Mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than say, oh, I am going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here is a chance to grow.”

– Carol Dweck –

3. Mindfulness

Learning to be mindful allows us to stay present in the moment. When we approach the world with mindful awareness, we can more accurately assess and respond to situations and people. By noticing and separating ourselves from old beliefs and anxieties, we become more accepting of ourselves and others.

Ellen Langer, a mindfulness expert and early positive psychology researcher, defines mindfulness as “the process of actively noticing new things.” She believes it’s the opposite of mindlessness, drawing us into the present.

A mindful state has three qualities:

  • Relaxation – settling the body in its natural state
  • Stillness – avoiding movement to quiet the mind
  • Clarity – careful, focused attention on the mind itself moment by moment.

“Mindfulness is the essence of engagement. It’s energy-begetting, not energy-consuming.”

– Ellen Langer –

4. Resilience

Resilience is the capacity to withstand and adapt to the challenges life throws us. There are many ways to build resilience.

Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte identify four ways people use resilience: to overcome the difficult circumstances or negative consequences of childhood, to steer through daily stressors, to bounce back from setbacks, and to reach out to pursue new goals and a stronger sense of self. Reaching out allows us to move past our urge to protect ourselves and be open to new experiences and challenges.

Resilience can be practiced through any strategy that helps you manage your emotions or dispute negative thoughts, advises Sue Langley. She recommends cultivating a range of tactics.

“Brain science shows that our emotions, brain and body are intricately linked. We can change the way we feel by adjusting how we think or hold our body.”

 – Sue Langley –

5. Optimism

Optimism is a tendency to expect the best possible outcomes. We can learn strategies to be more optimistic.

If we are optimistic, we tend to see more solutions. We tend to be more successful as we believe they will work. We stay motivated.

Martin Seligman, one of the fathers of positive psychology, explains that we see the world through three lenses: personal, permanent, and pervasive.

When a problem occurs, an optimistic thinker believes they are not entirely at fault and circumstances may have played a part; the situation is fleeting and changeable, and the problem will not affect their whole life.

“Flexible, realistic optimism is about seeing the rocks in the road as well as a path through them.”

– Martin Seligman –

6. Strengths

When we use our strengths, we enjoy what we are doing, do it better, and feel we are working toward our potential.

Alex Linley defines a strength as “a pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking or feeling that is authentic and energising to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance.” In other words, our strengths allow us to be our best selves.

When combining our strengths with others and assisting them in using theirs, we build stronger and more cooperative relationships, enabling greater collaboration and teamwork.

“Research shows that when people use their strengths, they feel happier and more confident, are less stressed, more resilient, and more engaged in their self-development.”

– Alex Linley –

7. Gratitude

Practising gratitude makes us aware of the good things that happen and connects us to a sense of life’s wonder.

There is no diminishing return for gratitude. Thanking others makes us more tolerant of differences, creating a sense of camaraderie and belonging.

Researchers also associate gratitude with psychological growth and a coping style known as positive interpretation. When we appreciate something, it increases in value, and we are more able to realise its full worth.

Ken Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky found that when people with high appreciation experience significant life changes, they are more likely to value the experience and feel glad it happened. Continued appreciation of positive changes – a new romance, dream job or successful weight loss – counteracts the natural tendency of humans to adapt and revert to previous levels of happiness.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

– Marcel Proust –

Ready for more learning?

We look forward to inspiring you and others to live a happier, more engaged, and more fulfilling life.

We are excited for 2023; discover our upcoming course list here.

Register your interest for the Diploma of Positive Psychology with Langley Group Institute here.

To learn more, join Learn with Sue for eBooks on 7 Ways to Apply Positive Psychology, 10 Brain-Friendly Habits and How to Lead with the Brain at Work. Plus a range of tools to help yourself and others, including questionnaires, values cards, posters and more.