What Matters Most?

Using your strengths to impact well-being

Top 5 Blog Posts of 2013

Check out these popular posts that are all practice-friendly and science-based.

Happy 2014! To get us off on the right foot, I have assembled my 5 most popular blog posts from last year. As you can see, the most popular entries are those that are very practice-oriented, outlining step-by-step approaches for particular exercises. Those that relay lists of research findings in the science of positive psychology are also well-received.

Here they are, starting with the most popular:

1)  New Happiness Strategy: Mentally subtract the positive from your life. From the article:

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a) Select something good in your life that falls under one of the following categories: education, health, safety/security, possessions, weekends/holidays, support from others, or personal achievement.

b) Imagine your life without that one good thing. Picture the impact clearly. How do you feel?

c) Write down how your life would be different. Describe your feelings.

d) Refocus on the present moment. Re-evaluate how you feel about that good thing.

e) Have you activated any of your character strengths?

2) 5 Lesser-Known Tips for a Positive Relationship: Learn about relationships from the best positive psychology movie of 2013. Before Midnight is a quintessential “dialogue film.” This helps it be an outstanding “teacher” of positive relationships. Not only does it capture some of the everyday ups and downs—the joys and struggles—found in normal relationships, but it illustrates new scientific findings on positive relationships. For example:

a) Turn your strengths other-oriented.

b) Don’t stop being curious.

c) Practice mindful relating to people you care about.

d) Deploy your strengths of judgment and prudence.

e) Respond to others actively and constructively.


3) Top 10 Things Most People Don’t Know About Mindfulness: Important observations and findings to boost your understanding. A couple examples from the article:

a) Present moments last 3-4 seconds on average.

b) The scientific definition of mindfulness involves self-regulation and curiosity.

c) The first step in learning mindfulness is “Catch AP-ASAP.”

d) Decentering is one of the critical explanations for why mindfulness is so successful.

e) Since the start of this millennium, mindfulness research has increased 20-fold.

4) What is Your Best Possible Self?: Use this exercise to boost your hope and well-being. From the article: Here are some steps to help guide you in imaging a positive future:

a) Take a few minutes to select a future time period (e.g., 6 months, 1 year, 5 years from now) and imagine that at that time you are expressing your best possible self strongly. Visualize your best possible self in a way that is very pleasing to you and that you are interested in.

b) Imagine it in close details where you have worked hard and succeeded at accomplishing your life goals. You might think of this as reaching your full potential, hitting an important milestone, or realizing one of your life dreams. The point is not to think of unrealistic fantasies, rather, things that are positive and attainable within reason.

c) After you have a fairly clear image, write about the details. Writing your best possible self down helps to create a logical structure for the future and can help you move from the realm of foggy ideas and fragmented thoughts to concrete, real possibilities.

d) Be sure to write about the character strengths that you observe in this image.

e) And, what character strengths will you need to deploy to make this best possible self a reality?

5) From Mindless to Mindful: Learn how to make an impact on one of your bad habits. From the article:

a) First, select one of your “bad” habits or vices. Pick something you are struggling with or bothered by and that you do each day.

b) Then, consider one way you will bring greater mindfulness to the habit or vice and one way you will use one of your strengths with it.

c) Finally, apply the strength and mindfulness to your autopilot mind each day as you do the activity.

Resources

VIA Survey (the research-validated test)

VIA Institute (the nonprofit organization)

VIA Classification (the system of strengths and virtues)

VIA resources for practitioners

 

References

(for a more complete list of references check out each individual article or click here).

Koo, M., Algoe, S. B., Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2008). It’s a wonderful life: Mentally subtracting positive events improves people’s affective states, contrary to their affective forecasts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1217-1224.

Niemiec, R. M. (2014). Mindfulness and character strengths: A practical guide to flourishing. Boston, MA: Hogrefe.

Niemiec, R. M., & Wedding, D. (2014). Positive psychology at the movies 2: Using films to build character strengths and well-being. Boston, MA: Hogrefe.

Peters, M. L., Flink, I. K., Boersma, K., & Linton, S. J. (2010). Manipulating optimism: Can imagining a best possible self be used to increase positive future expectancies? Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(3), 204-211.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, D.C.:  American Psychological Association.

Veldorale-Brogan, A., Bradford, K., & Vail, A. (2010). Marital virtues and their relationship to individual functioning, communication, and relationship adjustment. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(4), 281–293.

 

Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D., is the education director at the VIA Institute on Character.

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