Ten guidelines for a healthy life: Korean Medical Association statement (2017).
December 15, 2017 148 p (in English)

doi: https://doi.org/10.26604/979-11-5590-078-9-93510-6

Thinking Positively

Thinking Positively

Appreciate the little things and be happy with your loved ones!

Summary

◆ Background

Making a habit of appreciating the little things in daily life and cultivating good relationships with the people around you can improve the quality of your life as well as other people’s lives.

◆ Purpose

To promote happy and healthy lives by providing everyday guidelines on thinking positively, showing gratitude, and cultivating good relationships.

◆ Contents

1. Appreciate the little things

Research shows that people who appreciate the little things in life experience positive emotions more often and are happier and livelier than those who do not. You can see how a small change makes a big difference by making time to think about a good thing that happened to you today, no matter how small. Savor it for a moment, capture it in a photo, or write about it.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others, and be happy with yourself

Comparing yourself to others whenever you face a life crisis may give rise to an inferiority complex; instead, you can overcome adversity and build confidence by focusing on getting stronger every day.

3. Remember that happiness starts from good relationships! Empathy + communication + compassion!

It is desirable to try to spend time with people who are fun to be with and who share your hobbies, as well as to maintain good relationships with those around you. People with good relationships are not only physically healthier and experience more happiness, but also tolerate stress better when they face unexpected adversities or stressors.

◆ Expected impact

Appreciating the little things and making a habit of expressing your emotions can enable you to find strength and enjoy a healthy life by maintaining good and pleasant relationships.

Keywords: Thinking positively, Happiness, Relationship, Empathy, Communication

Best practices to follow

1. Appreciate the little things

2. Stop comparing yourself to others, and be happy with yourself

3. Remember that happiness starts from good relationships! Empathy + communication + compassion!

Martin Seligman, a psychologist specializing in positive psychology, proposed that an individual can live a happy and meaningful life by increasing positive emotions and living together with others [1]. Positive emotions expand one’s breadth of thinking, while also improving concentration, creative thinking, physical activity, and relationships with others. Furthermore, positive emotions neutralize negative emotions; hence, they improve physical health by reducing the physical tension that accompanies negative emotions. Positive emotions are experienced through activities rather than through thinking; in particular, they are induced by interacting positively with people and engaging in energetic physical exercise. People with strong, deeply-rooted positive emotions are active socially, mentally, and physically, and such emotions are helpful for mental and physical health.

Fact Sheet ➊

Appreciate the little things

1.1 Let’s start by asking a simple question, “What is going well for me now?”

According to positive psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, the questions that we ask ourselves have a special power [2]. What is a good thing about the place where I am at now? What helped me get here? What can be considered a valuable gift around me? How does it benefit me and others?

The first step to positive thinking is to acknowledge the good things that happen in your daily life. At the end of the day, if you can reflect on the good things that happened to you that day, savor them, and then write about them with gratitude, it can lead to tremendous changes.

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1.2 If you feel good and grateful, it is best to express it in your own way

Appreciation induces positive emotions that help open one’s mind and repay the kindness of others. When you feel appreciation, it is important to express gratitude in your own way.

Research has demonstrated that people who regularly express gratitude are happier and livelier, and also experience hopeful and positive emotions more often [3]. Finding and expressing gratitude can lead to not only positive thinking, which refers to acceptance of one’s present life as it is, but also has the advantageous effect of helping to develop solid relationships with the people around you. Take a small step, such as getting in touch with people for whom you have gratitude and expressing your appreciation. Consider engaging in the following activities by integrating the key practices of positive psychology articulated by Martin Seligman [1].

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Gratitude visit

Visit, call, or send an email or text message to someone you’ve always felt grateful to but haven’t expressed that gratitude to.

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Three good things in life

At the end of the day, recall three things that went well that day and write down why they went well. Go further by trying to find reasons for good things whenever they happen.

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You at your best

Recall the happiest or the most pleasant moment of the day and write down your strength that was discovered at that moment.

Fact Sheet ➋

Stop comparing yourself to others, and be happy with yourself

2.1 I made it through today, and I am better than I was yesterday

We tend to focus first on our shortcomings or mistakes rather than on good things. However, if you look carefully at the good things, some wonderful moments must have occurred, such as being more careful or humble, having more hope, or showing more kindness to others than usual. The positive personality displayed in those moments is called character strength, and we all have our own unique character strengths.

According to positive psychologist Martin Seligman, “Positive social science assumes that human goodness and excellence are as authentic as disease, disorder, and distress” [1].

People often face difficult and hard tasks, but they will be able to meet the day more happily if they can focus on their unique strengths and how they have progressed, rather than comparing themselves with others. In fact, it has been proven that a positive perspective on life, which includes finding one’s own strengths, is something that can be learned through training.

Fact Sheet ➌

Remember that happiness starts from good relationships! Empathy + communication + compassion!

3.1 Have a meal and a pleasant conversation with those close to you as often as possible

According to David G. Myers and Ed Diener, “Happiness grows less from the passive experience of desirable circumstances than from involvement in valued activities and progress toward one’s goal” [4]. A life of involvement means maintaining close relationships with others and fully demonstrating one’s individual talents to their best. Furthermore, the psychologist Michael W. Fordyce described the following 14 fundamental activities for happiness [5].

1. Spend more time socializing.

2. Strengthen your closest relationships.

3. Develop an outgoing, social personality.

4. Be a better friend.

5. Work on a healthy personality.

6. Lower expectations and aspirations.

7. Develop positive, optimistic thinking.

8. Value happiness.

9. Become more active.

10. Become involved with meaningful work.

11. Get better organized and plan things out.

12. Develop your “present orientation.”

13. Reduce negative feelings.

14. Stop worrying.

One of the most basic needs and motivations of humans is having positive relationships with those around them [6]. The feeling of positively ‘belonging’ with the people around you has a tremendous effect in many ways. Research has shown that people who think positively and cultivate good relationships with the people around them are physically healthier, experience happiness more often, and more easily overcome unexpected adversities or stress [7].

Find time to have a comfortable meal and pleasant conversation with family or acquaintances as often as possible. Although we have busy daily lives, spending part of our limited time with people around us can be a gift.

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References

1 

ME Seligman TA Steen N Park C Peterson Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions Am Psychol 2005 60 410 421

2 

BL Fredrickson The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions Am Psychol 2001 56 218 226

3 

RA Emmons ME McCullough Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life J Pers Soc Psychol 2003 84 377 389

4 

DG Myers E Diener Who is happy? Psychol Sci 1995 6 10 19

5 

MW Fordyce Development of a program to increase personal happiness J Couns Psychol 1977 24 511 521

6 

RF Baumeister MR Leary The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation Psychol Bull 1995 117 497 529

7 

JS House KR Landis D Umberson Social relationships and health Science 1988 241 540 545

8 

Positive School Available from URL:http://www.positiveschool.co.kr (accessed 25 April, 2017)

Notes

[1] Contributing associations:

Korean Association of Psychoanalysis: Study Group and Allied Center of the IPA

Korean Neuropsychiatric Association

Contributing experts:

Yu Jin Paek, Department of Family Medicine, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital