International Success Coach and Positive Psychologist Niyc Pidgeon visited DrivenWoman last week to run a Positive Psychology Workshop for us for a second time. The event was sold out a month in advance, and for a good reason. Niyc is a living example of positivity and abundance – she simply knows how to flourish. But she has not always been like this. She, like everyone who’s become successful, has had to learn how to deal with her feelings and her fears, and how to change her mindset.
Here’s some of her top advice on how to use positive psychology to flourish.
1) Manifest intention
Write down your intention before starting your day, a meeting or a project. This will help you to be positive and keep going when you hit setbacks. You will have your mind work for you, not against you. Setting your intention in the morning for the day will significantly increase your everyday happiness.
Positive Psychology is the science of happiness. Where as Psychology looks at what is wrong with you, the mental illness and unhappiness, Positive Psychology focuses on enhancing your everyday life.
2) Aim to flourish
There are four stages of mental health, from low to high: mental illness, languishing, moderate mental health (most people) and flourishing. Positive psychology aims to move people from moderate mental health to flourishing. To lift yourself to the highest level – flourishing – you need to consider the following five areas in your life:
Positive emotions open up your brain for creative thinking. Your mind is 39% more productive when set in ‘positive’ mode. Every daily choice you make you can choose to see the ‘positive’ side or the ‘negative’ side of things.
Engagement in creativity
Creativity can be something as simple as cooking a wonderful meal for your family, or something more complex. It’s important to feel present in the moment and be able to concentrate in a creative process.
Nurture positive supportive relationships and build boundaries towards people who don’t contribute positively to your journey.
Meaning and purpose
Doing work where you feel you are making a difference or where you can help others can significantly increase your happiness.
Accomplishment and progress
We need a sense of accomplishment to feel happy. It is better to link it to enjoying the everyday progress of your actions than big goals. The sign posts keep moving, so if you are very attached to one goal, such as affording to buy a big house, once you get there it is not enough as there’s always more material things you could have. Focus on celebrating small steps and enjoying what you can learn from your work.
3) Create a ‘Done’ list
Write down all the things you’ve completed that day before going to bed. It creates a sense of accomplishment and gratitude in self. It can boost your self confidence and feeling that you are enough. If you only keep looking at your ‘to-do’ list you may always feel that you are lacking and falling behind. It’s important to celebrate small steps and be happy about the progress rather than the end results. And as we say at DrivenWoman… Enjoy the journey!
4) Only 10% of our happiness is based on our circumstances
Sonja Lyubomirsky has done research on how to increase happiness in our day-to-day lives. Many people focus on outside circumstances as the source of their unhappiness, but often our circumstances are not in our control. In fact, 50% of our happiness depends on our genes and 40% is in our control, it depends on our mindset. Focus on the things you can control to feel happier every day. Read Sonja’s book ‘The How Of Happiness‘ to learn more.
5) Change your mindset
Carol Dweck defines two types of mindsets: fixed mindset and growth mindset. If you have a fixed mindset you tend to strive for goals and focus on outcomes, you are defensive about your views and don’t want to hear any criticism or comments about your work. For a person with a growth mindset, life is a journey. She accepts both positive and negative feelings and takes failure or criticism as a source of learning. Carol’s book ‘Mindset – The New Psychology Of Success’ explains these differences in detail.
Furthermore, the secret to raising smart kids is to embrace the growth mindset. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on “process”—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life. Let your kids embrace struggle and contribute success to hard work rather than being clever.
If you are unsure about your mindset, you can start testing growth mindset by adopting it for a day or when going into a meeting. Be open to new ideas, try not to get insulted from comments and criticism and consider setbacks as an opportunity to learn new things.
6) Make your fears visible
You need to face your fear in order to reduce its power. As soon as you make the source of your fear visible to yourself it looses its grip in you. Niyc recommended a three step approach:
1) Name it, 2) Claim it, 3) Go through it
For instance, if you are afraid of failure, try to allow yourself 80% success rate instead of going for 100%. Remember that perfection kills progress!
7) Feel the abundance in your life
What does abundance mean to you? More money, more freedom, more happiness? Better health? More creativity? Perhaps all of the above!
It’s important to feel you have a lot (even if you don’t have that much) rather than be always lacking. A good way to do this is be thankful of the ‘amount’ you have right now (money, relationships, happiness, health etc) and to visualise the abundance you’d like to have in the future. Set radical goals and create a visual board to manifest it!
8) Be authentic
One reason why being authentic matters is that if you develop a gap between your authentic self and the way you express yourself outside and the choices you make you are bound to get sick.
Write down your talents and values and the way you want to live. (We do this work at DrivenWoman.) If this feels difficult, think about what you are afraid to share and why, and how would it benefit someone if you did share it.
9) Understand your 5 core strengths
The better you know yourself the more aligned you can be with your work and your goals every day. It’s easier to stay on your chosen path when you know you are putting all your core strengths into good use, because what else could you be doing?
Do this scientific test to find your core strengths. Then write down one thing you are going to do right away to put one of those strengths into use. There’s no use of knowing yourself if you are not going to do anything with it. (A DrivenWoman principle!)
10) Keep going when times are tough
We are all tested at times so it’s good to learn what you can do to bring yourself back up. When you hit a setback try to create positive emotions and write down what you are grateful for. These actions will help immediately and you are more likely to find the persistence to carry on.
These are the kind of topics we also explore and discuss in the DrivenWoman groups and online Academy every month. ~ Miisa
Niyc Pidgeon is Positive Psychologist MSc, International Success Coach, & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.