On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness information for all Oklahomans, published three times a week.

Think Positive and Give Thanks!

Ask one hundred people if they want to find happiness. Chances are you’ll hear a universal “yes” from 100 percent of those folks. Undoubtedly, every one of us wants to be happy.
 
Many people think happiness is a fleeting, sometimes elusive state that comes over us passively. But did you know that happiness is a choice? And that happiness can be taught? Scientists and researchers say that you should think of happiness as a skill, and that with the right tools, you can train your brain to become happier.
 
In fact, the study of happiness, and how to teach it, is one of the newer approaches to mental health and is a popular, emerging branch of psychology. Doctors and therapists call it “Positive Psychology.”
 
While traditional psychology focuses on treating dysfunction — mental illness and other psychological problems — positive psychology focuses on how to be happier, healthier and more productive. Some of the "themes" of positive psychology include happiness, mindfulness, flow, optimism, resilience and hopefulness.
 
Dr. Martin Seligman, the “father” of the positive psychology movement, has created various positive psychology exercises to help people live happier. Probably the most effective and best known positive psychology exercise is something called “Three Good Things.”
 
Briefly, in this method, people write down three things they enjoyed in the previous day, and then they ponder and write a sentence as to why that good thing happened to them. For example, you might write something like, “I had a great lunch date with Susan. Why? Because I enjoy deep conversation and people like to open up to me.”
 
Studies show this simple positive psychology exercise can increase one’s level of happiness by up to 25 percent. Why not give it a try, practice building happiness like a skill, and see if your brain can be trained to feel happier?

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