Posts in research
Positive Psychology 101 - The Science of Gratitude

Instead of focusing on maladaptive patterns and behavior, positive psychology focuses on helping people function at an optimal level. Positive psychology aims to better understand and apply factors that help individuals and communities thrive and flourish (Seligman & Csikszentmihay, 2000).

Well-being can be achieved or increased through deliberate interventions.

One of the earliest documented interventions involved guiding people to adopt traits present in happy people (Fordyce, 1977, 1983).

To date, many interventions have been developed that have been shown to increase well-being including:

Practicing forgiveness (McCullough, Pargament, & Thoresen, 2000)

Participating in happiness training (Goldwurm, Baruffi, & Colombo, 2003)

Keeping a gratitude journal (Emmons & McCullough, 2003)

Thinking about positive experiences (Burton & King, 2004)

Writing a gratitude letter (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005)

Engaging in acts of kindness (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, & Schkade, 2005)

Counting one’s blessings (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005)

Engaging in productive activities (Baker, Cahalin, Gerst, & Burr, 2005)  

 Reliving positive events (Lyubomirsky, Sousa, & Dickerhoof, 2006)

Nurturing relationships (Lyubomirsky, 2008),

Participating in goal-setting (MacLeod, Coates, & Hetherton, 2008).

seligman quote

One of the first things that comes up when you start researching Positive Psychology is GRATITUDE! Gratitude is strongly correlated with greater happiness and better relationships When we tap into a state of gratitude, we elevate our functioning and see improvement in a variety of areas.

This is a summary of over 40 research studies on gratitude. Click the picture to link to the source.

This is a summary of over 40 research studies on gratitude. Click the picture to link to the source.

A simple thing we can do to tap into gratitude is to create a gratitude journal. Just write down 5 things that you are grateful for. You can start a notes page on your phone, or can write these down on a piece of paper. Take a moment to rate your sense of well-being before writing down your gratitude list. Write down your list, then re-rate your sense of well-being.

P.S. This can work even if you go through the list mentally, but better if you write it down.

CBT Part 2 - Untwisting Your Thinking

The other day, I wrote a little about cognitive distortions. These are unhelpful thoughts that we all tend to have, that are not rational, and can likely cause negative feelings. Most of us do not pay attention to the way we are talking to ourselves; our internal dialogue. Identifying these unhelpful thought patterns is a first step in feeling better. https://www.drericafels.com/building-pathways-for-positive-change/2019/1/16/intro-to-the-cbt-perspective

Today, I present an antidote. Check it out and check yourself!

David Burns is arguably the father of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and has some amazing books and resources to help people with various mood related concerns. Check out his website, blogs, articles, and podcasts to learn more! https://feelinggood.com/tag/fifty-ways-to-untwist-your-thinking/

As always, if you are experiencing severe distress, any suicidal or homicidal ideation, or anything you need help to cope with, please call 911 or seek professional support as soon as possible.

As always, if you are experiencing severe distress, any suicidal or homicidal ideation, or anything you need help to cope with, please call 911 or seek professional support as soon as possible.

Cannabis: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Today I attended a talk with the same title, by Dr. Jeff Chen, MD/MBA. Jeff is the Founder and Director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative. This is one of the first university programs in the world that is dedicated to the study of cannabis. Did you know that endocannabinoids occur naturally in the body and that cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years? The first documented use was for pain relief and inflammation by an emperor in China over 2000 years ago. I also learned that prior to prohibition, cannabis was widely prescribed by physicians in America! There are many documented benefits of THC and CBD but most of the studies thus far have been on animals. Research is hopeful, and UCLA is one institution hoping to get human clinical trials going in the areas of cancer research, Alzheimer’s Disease and opiod addiction. More funding is needed to get these studies underway. The universities aren’t eligible for federal funding, and are in a race to get research out into the public domain, before Big Pharma gets the patents. See links to learn more.

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