How to be Positive by Martin Seligman

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Strategies for enhancing happiness

Relationships

  • Mate with someone similar, communicate kindly and clearly and forgive faults
  • Maintain contact with your extended family
  • Maintain a few close friendships
  • Co-operate with acquaintances
  • Engage in religious or spiritual practices

Environment  

  • Secure physical and financial safety and comfort for yourself and your family, but don’t get on the hedonic treadmill of consumerism
  • Periodically enjoy fine weather
  • Live in a geographically beautiful environment
  • Live in an environment where there is pleasing music and art

Physical state

  • Maintain good health
  • Engage in regular physical
  • exercise

Productivity

  • Use skills that are intrinsically pleasing for tasks that are challenging
  • Achieve success and approval at work that is interesting and challenging
  • Work towards a coherent set of goals

Recreation

  • Eat quality food in moderation
  • Rest, relax, and take holidays in moderation
  • Do co-operative recreational activities with groups of friends like music, dance, physical work projects, and exhilarating activities (sailing/surfing)

Habituation

  • For excessive striving for material gain to increase happiness, accept that you will inevitably habituate to material goods and situations that initially bring increases in happiness

Comparisons

  • For low self-esteem due to negative comparisons with media images, judge yourself against your immediate local reference group and those worse off than yourself, not the false images of the media; check the validity of resources and happiness of media images.
  • Set realistic personal goals and standards consistent with your abilities and resources Inequitable reactions to losses and gains
  • For disappointment associated with inequity of reactions to gains and losses, expect to get small increases in happiness from large gains and successes; and large reductions in happiness from small losses and failures

Distressing emotions

  • Avoid distressing situations; focus on non-distressing aspects of difficult situations,
  • Assertively challenge distressing people, challenge pessimistic and perfectionistic thinking
  • Challenge threat oriented thinking and practice courage by entering threatening situations and using coping strategies to reduce anxiety
  • Avoid provocative situations, focus on non-distressing aspects of difficult situations
  • Assertively ask provocative people to be less provocative, stand back and practise empathy

Source: Based on Argyle (2001); Seligman (2002); Diener et al. (1999); Buss (2000); Myers (1992); Lykken (1999).

Quoted from Positive Psychology by Martin Seligman, 2004, Brunner-Routlege, New York, NY (page 39-40).

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