To say we’re living through challenging times sounds like both a cliché & an understatement. In recent months, news about the pandemic, economic woes, and bitter political debates have triggered tremendous anxiety and sadness for many across the globe.
But when people look back on their lives, it is usually the most difficult challenges that gave them a new perspective or caused them to grow the most. Of course, in the midst of a crisis, it doesn’t feel that way. But there are steps you can take to cope during difficult times, using techniques from the field of positive psychology.
How can positive psychology help in trying times?
Initially, positive psychology focused mainly on pursuing rewarding experiences that made people feel more joyful. But psychologists soon realized this sort of happiness depends on fleeting experiences, rather than a more enduring sense of contentment. As a result, the field shifted to concentrate on cultivating satisfaction and well-being but staying open to the full range of emotional experiences, both good and bad. Contrary to what you might expect, trying to resist painful emotions actually increases psychological suffering. “Positive psychology is not about denying difficult emotions. It’s about opening to what is happening here and now, and cultivating and savoring the good in your life,” says Ron Siegel, PsyD, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
If you develop the habit of counting your blessings, for example, you may be better able to appreciate the positive aspects of life that remain even after a painful event like a job loss or a death. And helping others, even when you are struggling, can increase your positive feelings and help you gain perspective. Growing evidence suggests that positive psychology techniques can indeed be valuable in times of stress, grief, or other difficulties. They may also help you develop the resilience to handle difficulties more easily, and bounce back more rapidly after traumatic or unpleasant events. Here are three positive psychology practices you can try.
BE MORE MINDFUL
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgement. Learning to live more in the present is especially helpful when the future is uncertain. Formal mindfulness-based stress reduction programs have been shown to help reduce physical and psychological symptoms in people facing a variety of challenges, including cancer and chronic pain. To practice at home, you can try some of the free guided recordings of mindfulness meditations narrated by Dr. Siegel, available at www.mindfulness-solution.com.
Share some kindness
Research suggests that people who volunteer their time tend to be happier than those who don’t. Those who give charitable donations may even get a small mood boost. Try this exercise: When you have a free afternoon, flip a coin. Heads, do something self-indulgent (for instance, give yourself a manicure). Tails, do something to help your community or another person (for example, call or write to an elderly person). Notice how you feel at the time and in the hours and days that follow.
Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you receive, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, you acknowledge the goodness in your life. You can apply this to your past (by retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of your childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking things for granted as they come), and the future (being hopeful and optimistic that there will be good things arriving). Our brains are wired to take note of when things go wrong. But keeping a gratitude journal — writing down things you’re thankful for — makes you more aware of when things go right.
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Recently my father-in-law was admitted to hospital for Hyponatremia (low sodium); within 12 hrs. of admittance he had to be transferred to the ICU, he was in ICU for 7 days and now is recovering under observation in the hospital.
These are some of the positive aspects of the experience that myself, my wife, my brother-in-law and the other members of the family focused on that gave us the energy to face the challenges with a POSITIVE MINDSET , as it still continues, I have always maintained that gratefulness and humility are the most powerful human strengths. Some of the positive aspects that we experienced
BEING IN THE RED ZONE
– Admittance to hospital was seamless and effortless – in this COVID Scenario, thanks to a dear friend who maintains very healthy relation with myself and the hospital.
– Transfer to ICU was very timely.
– At the time of admittance my brother-in-law was overseas, he was notified and emergency repatriation was pressed by the Company Management, by the time he arrived, we managed to get my father-in-law out from the ICU.
– Despite my father-in-law hitting the absolute clinical low in the ICU and being on ventilator, his vitals stabilized within days, and ventilator was removed in less than five days, this eliminated the major risk of pulmonary pneumonia.
– Despite having COVID like symptoms, all the three test’s that were done were negative, a positive test would have implied that my father-in-law would have to be transferred on a COVID facility , where no family attendants are allowed, that would have been heart breaking for the entire family
– My wife’s entire family stood by myself with unconditional support of the decision I had to make on behalf of my brother-in-law in his absence.
– The doctor’s in the ICU were absolutely open and forthcoming to discuss with me their next plans, when I politely told them that I am trained as paramedic by St. John’s ambulance in the UK. They did absolutely everything to ensure that he recovers from the dip in the ICU, assured in the fact that the patient’s family attendant endorses their action. This is absolutely critical, the power of Faith.
– As I perceive the time in the ICU is the time where the VITALS are unstable and thus life threatening – This is the RED Zone.
– In the red one there is no time to evaluate a rapidly deteriorating condition, the doctors have to take a firm decision in a fraction of a second, INTENTION matters in such situation. I could almost sense that no doctor in the ICU wants to see a patient who fails to leave the ICU recovered.
– The hero’s of the ICU are the doctors in-charge of the ICU. Their immediate action, inaction or omission more or less dictates the results.
BEING IN THE ORANGE ZONE.
He is still in the hospital and is facing a challenge of overcoming AN infection. There are so many micro-organism that affect a weak and frail body that to identify the exact nature of the infection is an absolutely nightmare of a challenge for the doctors. The sign and symptoms that the body shows externally are more or less the same, thus identifying the nature of infection relies totally on blood sample culture test , which take a few days each time followed by a treatment and it’s result. If the treatment fails, it is back to the scratch board.
Things that I have observed in the ORANGE ZONE.
– For an old patient this zone requires the maximum amount of WILL by the patient to recover, the medical attendants and the core family members attending to the patient.
– It is also the most painful for the patient being bed ridden and dependent, especially for a patient who walked into the hospital and has been bed ridden since then.
– Here the hero’s are the nurses and the mama’s – They serve the patients with absolute humility and dedication. Their timely administration of medicine, monitoring vitals and maintaining general and patient hygiene (cleaning of biological excretion and biological discharge) is the key to a positive outcome.
Getting out of the ORGANE ZONE and into the GREEN will imply that the core family that ends us nursing the patient back to full recovery have a detailed action plan chalked out for them.
Some of the challenges that I faced and consciously CHOSE NOT TO FOCUS excessively upon.
– People who persistently focused on the negative, without actually being part of the action at that point of time.
– Condition where the dip was quite dis-heartening, I used the a simple yet very profound quote from the Bhagwat Gita
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन । मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भुर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥
You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty. – Bhagavad Gita, Chapter II, Verse 47
– The lapses of the doctors, the nurses and mama’s knowing that they too are humans and not beyond fatigue and their own life challenges.
– The words of my daughter and my wife resonate in my ears “Dad, I am proud of you” and my wife being absolutely grateful continues to be the source of my energy.
– My brother-in-law who has been an absolute personification of unconditional trust, humility and gratefulness.
– My mother-in-law, who has been dedicatedly doing hourly healing for the well-being of her husband and the family at large.
A dear friend who has defeated the fear of COVID , realized that I need a change and offered to take me on a wonderful days outing , where I met some amazing people and had a great time.
I, along with the core family, the doctors at the hospital continue to remain optimistic that he and we will soon overcome the orange zone and step into the GREEN.
I have personally learned for this experience that
– Courage to go where other’s fear – is an indication that GOD is alive within each one who is at the hospital serving the sick. Those who do it unconditionally are God’s chosen one’s.
– Humility and Gratefulness are the greatest POWER that we humans possess, never let anything move you away from being humble and grateful especially in testing times.
– Forgiveness is a strength only a few are blessed with.
– One’s presence and attention has to be 100% unflinching and unwavering. If you feel fatigued , get someone else to replace you . Because the energy of the attendant enthuses the patient towards recovery.
– Be an observer , observe and choose what is not required as part of the experience and select daily outcome and communicate and focus on these outcome.
– The results are the best when there is an existing loving , respectful and a healthy emotional bond between the patient and the attendant. As much as the attendant may transmit positive energy it should be received by the patient. Patience and kindness are also key strengths for the attendant to practice.
It’s not about the outcome it is about how you play the game and who is besides you that matter’s in life.
Hell and Heaven are NO WHERE, all is NOW-HERE!
THE GREEN ZONE!
To be completed.