In recent weeks I’ve been researching positive psychology for guest posts that I write for a UK newsletter. I’ve been considering how the principles of positive psychology can increase retirement happiness.
The field of positive psychology is largely attributed to the work of Martin Seligman. Positive psychology seeks to understand the nature of happiness and well-being.
The basics of positive psychology relate to positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and life achievement. These key elements are considered necessary for a flourishing life.
Positive psychology principles have been applied to leadership development, organizational behaviour, child development, education, family and marital therapy, and wellness. Life coaches and athletic coaches use positive psychology in their work.
Positive Psychology and Aging
Very little research has been conducted to determine how positive psychology affects aging. Barbara Frederickson in her book, Positivity, asserts that there is a correlation between expressing more positive emotions and living longer.
Because emotions tend to be fleeting, it’s important to increase the number of positive emotions in any day to flourish and feel satisfied with life.
One’s daily affairs of life need to be regarded as satisfying. That morning walk, the aroma of fresh coffee, the colour of a new bloom — these ordinary things must be positively perceived to bring feelings of optimism, energy and inspiration. Attitudes about life, the approach to routine chores, acceptance of life circumstances, both good and bad, enhance positive emotions.
Frederickson advocates mindfulness, paying attention to human kindness, going outdoors in good weather, and using strengths and skills learned through experience as methods of increasing positivity.
Her advice can easily be applied to happiness and to successful aging. Adopting a positive attitude, using the extra time in retirement for meaningful activities, and continually adapting to life as changes occur are simple techniques that all of us can practice. They make common sense.
Retirement happiness is about attitude and mindset. Positive psychology techniques are simple to understand. They are available to everyone. By employing these techniques we can all enjoy a flourishing and happy retirement.
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