Like you, I’ve had to face my share of challenges in life. Many of the problems I had to contend with were of my own making, and most worries never actually materialized. I’ve often wondered if there was a way to deal with life’s difficulties and be happier.
After many years of studying of psychology I found the answers in the new science of positive psychology – the study of optimal human functioning. Over the past decade I’ve been conducting research at a major academic medical center that has revealed six essential principles for achieving satisfaction and success in life.
I refer to these 6 positive psychology principles as PROPEL: Passion, Relationships, Optimism, Proactivity, Energy, and Legacy
My studies show that applying these principles is the formula for having a happy life at home and at work. Think of these as a six-cylinder engine. All of the cylinders need to fire or it won’t work properly.
Passion for creating a great life comes from having a vision of a life filled with all of the elements that have the most value to you.
Relationships are based on having an abundance of positive interactions. That sets the stage for being able to create win – win outcomes when facing problems that require finding mutually satisfying solutions.
Optimism defeats criticism and defensiveness by generating positive possibilities. It’s the key ingredient in generating hopeful outcomes for our future and confidence in our ability to help ourselves get there.
Proactive is the opposite of being reactive. Negative reactions to stress are fight, flight or freeze. Proactive responses to challenges come from knowing and using your strengths.
Energy involves counterbalancing stress by using all four forms of intelligence: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Legacy involves helping others to help themselves. We learn how to do that from the mentors in our own life.
While there are many studies showing specific strategies that can temporarily boost well-being, PROPEL is one of the first systematic approaches proven to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a high level of positivity and performance.
Any real accomplishment takes work, and becoming a happier person is no exception. Depending on how challenging your life has become, it will take you somewhere between 2-12 months to significantly elevate your level of well-being. But not doing the work condemns you to a lifetime of languishing or worse – suffering.
To create a roadmap for changing how you approach life, read through the questions below and take a couple of minutes to answer each question.
To enhance the amount of Passion you experience in life, ask:
» What are the biggest lessons I’ve learned from the ups and downs in my life?
» If I were to apply those lessons to change my life, what would be the benefits?
» What would my day-to-day behaviors look like if I engaged in activities that applied those lessons?
To improve your Relationships, ask:
» What enables me to be at my best at reading other people’s emotions?
» How can I create 3 times more positive than negative interactions with people?
» How can I improve my ability to ask people what they need before advocating for what I want?
To increase Optimism when facing problems, ask:
» What would my situation look like if I were able to manage the most pressing problem I’m currently facing in my life?
» What’s enabled me to successfully overcome previous challenges?
» How could I draw on those resources to help me achieve a positive outcome now?
To become more Proactive and less reactive in stressful situation, ask:
» When I’m at my best, what do I have a natural talent for doing well?
» How can I use my talents to create positive outcomes in the foreseeable future?
If you don’t know what your best traits are, go to www.viacharacter.org to take the Signature Strengths test.
To maintain a high level of Energy, ask:
» What behaviors do I believe would make my body healthy, my mind inquisitive, my feelings positive and my spirits uplifted?
» What would my day look like if I routinely practiced habits that regenerated my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy?”
To create a Legacy and take yourself to the highest level of happiness, ask:
» Who has helped me the most in my life?
» How did they do that?
» What did I learn from that relationship that would help me to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others?