Positive psychology interventions encourage people to savour all aspects of experience including physical, sensory, emotional or social. Everyday experiences such as eating, smelling, or observing with focus on what we are attending to can help you to remain present which can reduse stress and increase Wellbeing. See the dropdown menu for different positive psychology interventions.
Positive Psychology Interventions (PPIs)
Empathy Positive Psychology Interventions
Empathy interventions place an emphasis on strengthening positive emotions in interpersonal relationships. Healthy social bonds in your profession and personal life are essential for happiness and inner peace. Self-love meditation, loving kindness meditation and mindfulness practices all promote empathy. These practices help people to create positive feelings towards themselves and others by being mindfully connected to the present. See below for a list of empathy interventions that you can use in your everyday life.
- Loving kindness meditation can help you keep others in mind and cultivate compassion This article provides a guide on how to practice loving kindness meditation and also highlights the benefits.
- Self-love meditation can help cultivate self-compassion and boost overall positive emotions.
- Put yourself in other people’s shoes: being mindful of others and respecting boundaries can strengthen social bonds and improve interpersonal relationships.
Kindness interventions based on compassion can include random acts of kindness, volunteering, donating or simply helping a stranger in need. ‘Prosocial Activity’ is an example of a compassion intervention where the person simply ‘pays it forward’ by paying for something for someone as a gesture of goodwill. It can be as simple as paying for a stranger’s coffee, paying for a meal for someone in need, or gifting something to a loved one. See the list below for examples of kindness interventions.
- Random acts of kindness: these acts can range from holding the door open for someone to paying for a stranger’s coffee. The Random Acts of Kindness webpage is full of idea and campaigns where you can get involved in kindness activities at work or in your community.
- Volunteering your time for a good cause: giving your time can be the kindest thing you can do for someone or cause. Even listening to and checking in on a friend, volunteering at local events and charities are all good ways to give your time. You can check out LIT's student volunteering website for oppertunities.
- Smiling and greeting people: sometimes a simple smile or greeting can change someone’s day. Remember, we never know what someone is going through and by showing kindness, you can improve their day and spread some happiness.
Optimistic interventions involve setting realistic expectations to create positive outcomes. For example, the ‘Imagine Yourself’ test asks people to write down where they see themselves in the future. Though this may seem like a simple task, evidence shows how non-directed imagination is an effective way for people to understand how positive they are about themselves and other people in their lives (King, 2001). The ‘Life Summary Technique’ is another optimism-based PPI where participants are asked to assume they are happy and prosperous in their lives and to write a summary based on that assumption (Seligman, Rashid, & Parks, 2006). Reviewing the summary helps the participants appreciate their strengths, achievements, and all the fruitful aspects of their lives so far. This PPI gives insight into what we think goes wrong in our everyday lives and what we can do to pursue the ideal lives that we want. Additionally, strength-building PPIs refer to internal capacities and values (Parks & Biswas-Diener, 2013). Research shows how awareness and acknowledgement of power can help in reducing symptoms of depression and increase self-contentment (Seligman et al., 2005).
- Creating a life summary is an effective way of reminding you of your strengths, positive qualities and achievements. Recommended reading: 12 Rules for Life (Peterson, 2018).
- Sometimes it is difficult for us to create a list of our own strengths, it can be a good idea to ask friends, loved ones or colleagues what they believe our strengths are and keep them in mind. Seeing yourself and your strengths from another person’s perspective can boost self-esteem and overall happiness. Think Up is an app which can help you incorporate positive affirmations into your everyday life. The app allows you to create your own affirmations or use ones from the app itself.
- Happify is an app which includes games and activities backed by research which help you change thought patterns and become happier and more optimistic.
- Memory building: taking a mental picture of an event, keep a journal record or scrapbook to document special moments. Recommended reading: Creating Your best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide (Miller & Frisch, 2009). You can also check out this article on digital scrapbooking, savouring and self-reflection here.
- Self-congratulation: acknowledge and savour individual or collective success to amplify positive emotions.
- Sensory-perceptual sharpening: focusing attention on specific features of an experience allow people to deepen positive experiences and explore it in more detail. For example: close your eyes at the beach and focus on the sounds of the waves to narrow your attention and enhance inner peace. If you can’t access the beach, you can use sounds available on Youtube such as this one.
- Absorption: similar to flow, absorption means being aware of positive emotions while immersed and engaged in a particular experience. Helps to slow down the moment and allows the positive emotions to be prolonged. Recommended reading: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Csikszentmihalyi, 2011)
- Expression: expressing positive emotions such as laughter, shouting and clapping to celebrate a positive event. Physically manifesting positive emotions amplifies a positive feeling.
- Counting blessings: being aware of and reflecting on positive experiences in life can promote positive emotions. The Live Happy app provides a range of positive activities to promote wellness, happiness and positive emotions including savouring, striving and expressing gratitude.
Practising gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and satisfaction, while also bolstering positivity and motivation.
- Journaling: recording things you are grateful for (big and small) daily. Try to record different things you are grateful for each day. This app gives ideas on how to create your own gratitude journal and is available for iPad or iPhone.
- Gratitude jar: get an old box/jar/any container and decorate it however you wish. Each day, write three things you are grateful for and put them in the container. When it is full, look back on your gratitude tokens and reflect on them.
- Gratitude box – a thoughtful way to share positive feelings with loved ones and cultivate a sense of gratitude. Write down a heartfelt message of gratitude for a loved one (thank you for/what I appreciate about you is/what I love about you is). You can also collect messages from others to add to the box. When it is complete, gift it to your loved one, this will cultivate feelings of warmth and appreciation for both you and them.
- Guided gratitude meditation.
Wellness and Mental Health
COVID and Wellbeing
- Coronavirus and Your Wellbeing is a self-help resource for those who are worried about COVID-19 and its impact on their wellbeing. It includes tips for coping with isolation and worry.
- MHPSS.net offer a COVID Toolkit for coping with the impact of COVID-19 on everyday life.
- Spunout.ie provide health information on topics including health, wellbeing, mental health, COVID, exercise, smoking, and drinking.