Positive Psychology: The Happiness Within

A couple of weeks back, I attended a webinar that spoke about positive psychology and what I heard intrigued me enough that I wanted to learn more about the topic. This blog post is the result of that learning and research.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living, focusing on both individual and societal well-being. It studies “positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions and aims to improve the quality of life.” A new domain of psychology, positive psychology began in 1998 when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as the president of the American Psychological Association.

Positive Psychology is a reaction against past practices, which have tended to focus on mental illness and emphasised maladaptive behaviour and negative thinking. It builds on the humanistic movement by Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, James Bugental, and Carl Rogers, which encourages an emphasis on happiness, well-being, and positivity, thus creating the foundation for what is now known as positive psychology. It is a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behaviour, with a focus on strengths instead of weaknesses, building the good in life instead of repairing the bad, and taking the lives of average people up to great instead of focusing solely on moving those who are struggling up to normal.

Positive psychologists have suggested several factors may contribute to happiness and subjective well-being. Social ties with a spouse, family, friends, colleagues, and wider networks; membership in clubs or social organizations; physical exercise; and the practice of meditation can help. Spirituality can also be considered a factor that leads to increased individual happiness and well-being. Happiness may rise with increasing financial income, though it may plateau or even fall when no further gains are made or after a certain cut-off amount.

Positive psychology focuses on eudaimonia, an ancient Greek term for the good life or good spirit and the concept of the reflection on the factors that contribute the most to a well-lived and fulfilling life. Eudaimonia is considered an essential element for the pursuit of happiness and good life and emphasises cherishing that which holds the greatest value in life and other such factors that contribute the most to having a good life. While not attempting a strict definition of what makes up a good life, positive psychologists agree that one must be happy, engaged, and meaningful with their experiences. Martin Seligman refers to the good life as using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification. Positive psychologists often use the terms subjective well-being and happiness interchangeably.

Positive psychology complements, without intending to replace the traditional fields of psychology and has placed a significant emphasis on fostering positive self-esteem and self-image. The basic premise of positive psychology is that human beings are often driven by the future more than the past. It also suggests that any combination of positive experiences/emotions, past or present, leads to a pleasant, happy life.

Positive psychology isn’t limited to feeling a sense of individual well-being itself, rather proponents of this science often refer to the Three Levels of Positive Psychology which include the Subjective level that centres around feelings of happiness, well-being, optimism, and similar emotions or feelings as they relate to your daily experience, the Individual level that combines the subjective level feelings of well-being with the qualities or virtues that make you a well-rounded person, such as forgiveness, love, and courage and the Group level which focuses on positive interactions with the community, and includes traits like altruism, social responsibility, and other virtues that strengthen social bonds.

Those who practice positive psychology attempt psychological interventions that foster positive attitudes toward one’s subjective experiences, individual traits, and life events to minimise pathological thoughts that may arise in a hopeless mindset and develop a sense of optimism toward life. Positive psychologists seek to encourage acceptance of one’s past, excitement and optimism about one’s future experiences, and a sense of contentment and well-being in the present.

According to Seligman and Peterson, positive psychology addresses three issues: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Positive emotions are concerned with being content with one’s past, being happy in the present and having hope for the future. Positive individual traits focus on one’s strengths and virtues. And, positive institutions are based on strengths to better a community of people.

Seligman proposed the PERMA model to explain and define well-being in a broader sense. PERMA is an acronym for the five elements of well-being, and it has become a widely recognised model in the field of positive psychology. In the PERMA model,

  • P stands for Positive emotions – Experiencing positive emotions has a major impact on boosting well-being. Positive emotions may spring from fostering gratitude and forgiveness about past events, enjoying oneself at the moment, and being optimistic about the future.
  • E stands for Engagement – To enhance well-being, it is also important to develop a sense of engagement which can be done by completely absorbing oneself while doing something they enjoy and excel at. This sense of engagement produces an experience known as ‘flow’, a sensation one has when their skills are sufficient for a particular challenge with a particular goal in mind. The concept of “flow” was coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, a leading figure in the field of positive psychology.
  • R stands for Relationships – As social beings, individuals often rely on building connections with other people to thrive, and the support they derive from these connections can give life purpose and meaning.
  • M stands for Meaning – Experiencing positive emotions alone is not enough to lead a happy life. Seligman suggests that finding meaning is the highest form of happiness. Meaning can be achieved by applying their strengths to the service of something larger — like a social cause — a substantial contribution to a community they’re a part of or a charitable duty.
  • Lastly, A stands for Accomplishment – There is no doubt that when one achieves their goals and succeeds, they feel a sense of fulfilment. If the drive to accomplish these goals doesn’t exist, a true sense of well-being is difficult to attain.

Positive psychology’s main aim is to encourage people to discover and nurture their character strengths, rather than channelling their efforts into correcting shortcomings. Positive psychology highlights the need for one to shift their negative outlook to a more optimistic view to improve quality of life. Each of us routinely experiences both good and bad outcomes but it often feels easier to focus on the negative outcomes, ignoring the ways we could harness the effect of good things to remedy the bad. Positive psychology is important because discovering what leads people to live more meaningful lives can translate to better strategies for managing mental illness, correcting negative behaviours, and increasing happiness and productivity.

In general, the greatest potential benefit of positive psychology is that it teaches the power of shifting one’s perspective. This is the focus of many techniques, exercises, and even entire programs based on positive psychology because a relatively small change in one’s perspective can lead to astounding shifts in wellbeing and quality of life. Injecting a bit more optimism and gratitude into your life is a simple action that can give you a radically more positive outlook on life.

So how do we incorporate positive psychology into our daily lives?

Practise Gratitude – Gratitude is one of the most popular positive psychology approaches and for good reasons. People who practice gratitude regularly experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. I’ve spoken about keeping journals before, so you could incorporate a few things you are grateful for in your daily journal. I started doing this at the beginning of the year, then missed writing my daily gratitude for a few months now, so this is a reminder for me to restart practising daily gratitude. Gratitude is a great buffer against negative emotions because it involves a focus on the present moment and appreciating what is instead of focusing on what could be.

Practise Mindfulness – I’ve written about mindfulness and mindful meditation many times, but one of the easiest ways to incorporate positive psychology daily is to practise mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation is a focus on the present moment achieved through the directing of attention towards one’s immediate experiences, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sensations. It involves paying attention to thoughts and feelings with a sense of acceptance and non-judgment. In very simple terms it implies that instead of focusing on what one should be feeling or experiencing, they are present and aware of how they are feeling. It is not about trying to change anything, just tuning in to the experience of the moment.

Use more Humour – There’s a reason that videos of laughing babies and goats in pyjamas are so popular, they make us feel better by quickly shifting our focus onto something fun, hopeful, and uplifting. We all know from experience that laughter is good medicine and research confirms that laughter reduces physical pain, improves mood, counteracts stress, and increases resiliency. So, spend some time daily laughing as much as you can, it’s a time well spent!

Smile more – It turns out that one doesn’t need to have a good belly laugh to experience mental and physical health benefits. The simple act of smiling can shift the mood from negative to positive. Smiling not only increases happiness and emotional well-being but also reduces stress, makes one more likeable and appear more competent, and is associated with longer-lasting and more fulfilling marriages. To harness some of the amazing powers of smiling, all one has to do is smile more. Since smiling is contagious, try to spend more time around others who smile often. One can also watch something funny or do something silly to get smiling.

Be more self-compassionate – Most people are incredibly hard on themselves and are judgmental and critical, finding fault with every little imperfection. By fixating on and amplifying mistakes and flaws, they train themselves to focus on the negatives. Not only does this damage their self-esteem and self-confidence, but it also dampens the mood and interferes with their ability to enjoy positive experiences and events in their lives. Self-compassion is the natural antidote for self-criticism. When one treats themselves with kindness and grace, they are acknowledging their imperfections and struggles and loving themselves anyway. People who practice self-compassion are less likely to suffer from depression, insomnia, and physical aches and pains. And self-compassion is associated with greater psychological well-being, motivation, and greater relationship satisfaction.

Visualise success – Another way to stay motivated and think positively is to visualize oneself acting in new ways. This creates a mental picture of success which strengthens their confidence and reinforces optimistic thinking. To do this, find a quiet place to sit, relax the body, and close the eyes. Paint a mental picture of yourself completing the big work assignment or giving a presentation with confidence. Tune in to all the details from the voice and posture to self-talk. Visualisation exercises help to relax the body and mind and create a sense of calm and well-being that can translate into greater confidence and focus and less stress and tension. If this is difficult, visualise a desired state of mind, such as relaxation, contentment, or peace of mind. Imagine yourself in a comfortable, pleasant place someplace that you associate with your desired mood and create a visual image of yourself in this place by imagining every detail and using all your senses. Notice how your muscles relax, you breathe deeply, and you feel a deep sense of peace and contentment. A guided visualisation like this is a mini-vacation for the mind.

Anticipate, Savour and Remember – There are three simple ways to increase the enjoyment of pleasurable experiences. One can boost happiness using anticipation by spending time anticipating the job of an upcoming enjoyable event. All activities leading to the event should be seen as part of the enjoyment rather than as chores. The second part of amplifying happiness is to savour the good times. Life is so rushed that it’s easy to let things pass without fully engaging in them. The idea behind savouring an experience is to be fully present. So put everything aside and enjoy the moment at hand. And the final way to increase pleasure is to look back and reflect on the good times. Most of us do this by looking at photos and retelling stories. One can also make scrapbooks, keep a journal or make videos. Remembering in these ways helps sharpen the memories and allows us to re-experience some of the joy that was felt when the event first occurred.

Other ways one can be happier are focusing less on attaining wealth and spending more on experiences rather than on physical and material possessions. Oxytocin may provoke greater trust, empathy, and morality in humans, meaning that giving hugs or other shows of physical affection may give one a big boost to one’s overall well-being and the well-being of others. Those who intentionally cultivate a positive mood to match the outward emotion they need to display benefit by more genuinely experiencing the positive mood. In other words, putting on a happy face won’t necessarily make one feel happier, but putting in a little bit of effort likely will.

Someone who practices a positive psychological outlook in life is more likely to be successful, be it at home or work. Not only does success make us happier, but feeling happy and experiencing positive emotions increases our chances of success.

Here are a couple of Ted Talks from the people who brought us positive psychology that I hope you will find as interesting and useful that I did.

Mental Agility: The ability to be flexible always

Bill Gates once said, “Success today requires the ability and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react and reinvent” And this means we have to be alert to constantly be able to react and reinvent ourselves.

The human mind is a very complex matter, and simplifying it may be one of the hardest tasks. Being able to simplify thoughts and transfer them effectively, think on your feet and solve problems in the most efficient way and learn in the most effective manner requires mental agility. Mental agility is the capacity to respond to events in a flexible way and be able to move quickly between different ideas. If you’re mentally agile, you can take in change and find the best course of action to move forward despite unpredictable events. It’s not about having all the answers – but about being confident that you can figure out a new way of doing things to get where you want to go.

One of the key skills today and in the future is mental agility. This ability to switch between tasks and ideas will be a very valuable asset everywhere and especially in the workplace in particular. Mental agility is linked to an area of research called psychological flexibility. Studies have shown that those that have higher levels of psychological flexibility are less likely to be depressed, anxious or stressed and more likely to report well-being in general because of the way they think about situations and how they choose to respond to events.

But how do we achieve it and why is it important for us and our children? One of the most important benefits of an agile mind is the ability to learn fast, however, that’s not all. For children, there are many benefits of mental agility like better problem-solving skills, creativity, the ability to stand up for themselves, calmness, evolved reasoning skills, greater comprehension of events, improved social skills and strong communication skills. For adults, the benefits of mental agility include being more efficient at home and at work, being more organised, feeling less stressed, open to new opportunities and being able to adapt to mandatory changes.

Here are some ways we can use mental agility to thrive in the uncertain world we live in:

Accept the situation: Sometimes things happen that throw us off course and if it’s a change that we’re unhappy about, it’s natural to want to fight against it. However, when the situation is beyond our control, the first thing to do is simply accept the new circumstances we find ourselves in. This isn’t always easy, and it’s OK to process emotions around major shifts in order to get to that acceptance, but the important thing is to acknowledge that we need to move forward in a different way.

Stop and think: We often react quickly and emotionally to unexpected events, which sometimes leads us to act in ways that aren’t useful. I am especially guilty of this and this tip is spot on for me! If you can give yourself some space and time to think before doing anything, it can mean that you approach the situation more strategically. Take at least a few moments to breathe, take in what is going on around you, and ensure your response is appropriate to the situation and not just an automatic panic reaction.

Get creative: When faced with difficulties or in a rut, it’s easy to fall back on using tried and tested ways of dealing with problems but this isn’t always the best solution. Brainstorming ideas, seeking out differing opinions, and thinking about all the different courses of action you could take to solve the issue are some way to see the issue. Consider various possible scenarios and how you could respond to each. If you can, test new approaches and see what works best for you. Sometimes, doing what you’ve always done will end up being the right move, but examining whether you could do things differently will get you in the habit of looking at situations from different angles, which is useful for building your mental agility in the long run.

Have a growth mindset: Believing that you can always continue to learn and develop, even if you’re an expert in your field, helps you keep growing, stay ahead of the competition, and understand what you can do to up your game. A growth mindset is key to mental agility, as it will ensure you regularly challenge your perspective and come up with innovative ways to tackle challenges. It will also help you to view failures as learning opportunities. Not everything you do will always work the first time, but it could be a step in the right direction and you’ll learn something from the experience.

Focus on support: Support is important when building resilience. Building a support network can be challenging in a virtual world, when how we work, socialise and interact with other people has changed so drastically. But having someone to bounce ideas off of, debrief with, or simply who can lend a listening ear, whether that’s a colleague, friend or mentor, can help a person work through a problem and decide how to respond to an event.

Fight Sameness: Expose yourself to the unfamiliar and go places you don’t normally go; read books and see movies that wouldn’t traditionally appear on your list. Stimulate your brain by operating outside your routine. This will allow you to be able to react fast and easily.

Embrace the Unknown: Visualise the problem through a story-board or pro/con list. Ask questions to tease out the problem. Ask questions like what’s missing? What else could be true? Why does that work? Treat mistakes and failures as learning lessons and don’t curl up in a ball if it doesn’t work the first time.

Read More: Reading is great exercise for your brain with varied and impressive benefits. Reading helps relieve stress and it improves cognitive functioning skills. It’s entertaining, it helps increase empathy and it can even improve your memory. So, while unwinding by scrolling social media during your downtime on your phone might be tempting, try picking up a book instead. Reading can help protect memory and thinking skills, especially as they start to decline with age. It slows this decline by improving mental flexibility overall and keeping important parts of the brain working. Research found that the brain scans of individuals who had recently read poetry showed increased activity and connectivity.

Focus on finding lots of possible solutions, not just the best one: Part of the reason why it can be hard to think on your feet is that you want to do a good job and come up with the “right” answer. You’re setting the bar awfully high when you’re overly focused on trying to find the best solution. Instead, start with a brainstorm. Allow yourself to think of as many potential answers or solutions to a challenge that you can. A study from 2011 assessed folks’ levels of divergent thinking by asking them to come up with as many uses for a paper clip as they could. Some came up with 10 or 15 uses, but others generated a list closer to 200. This exercise can help you sharpen your divergent thinking skills. Practice coming up with multiple answers and not just one answer, when challenges come your way. The more you do this, the easier it will become.

Exercise: Regular exercise correlates with a host of physical and intellectual benefits. It boosts your energy, improves your mood and helps you sleep well at night. If you want to boost your mental agility, committing to getting more exercise is a great move. Your exercise routine doesn’t have to be strenuous in order for you to benefit. In fact, studies have shown that walking just two miles a day, five times per week lowers your risk of dementia. And, being in nature also helps to both ease and sharpen the mind. It boosts mood, concentration and overall wellness.

Be protective of your mental energy: Another great way to boost your brain power is to learn to be more careful about how you spend it. Expend your mental energy wisely. Don’t waste it ruminating about things you can’t control. The past is over and there isn’t anything you can do about it. And, you can’t control what others do or think either. So, instead of spending your time and energy worrying about things you can’t do anything about, focus on only those things you can control. You’ll be better prepared for the future if you spend your energy on finding solutions and making preparations. Making a conscious effort to shift your focus isn’t as hard as it sounds. The more you practice being protective of your mental energy, the easier it will become. When you direct yourself away from thinking about things you’ve deemed a waste of time, you’ll begin to form new and healthier habits.

Try new things: Staying in your comfort zone can be relaxing and restorative and there’s certainly a time and place for that. However, you’re more likely to improve your mental agility if you learn something new once in a while. Trying new things can help prevent memory problems in older adults, but there are many benefits to learning new skills, at any age. Challenging yourself with activities that exercise entirely different parts of your brain can help keep you sharp. For example, if you love to do crossword puzzles, keep it up. But, maybe learn chess on the side, too — especially if it’s something that you’ve always wanted to do. If you love to read, try picking up a book from a different genre. You might also sign up to take a cooking class or learn to play a new sport. Pushing yourself to do new things can help boost your mental agility.

Eliminate distractions: Your ability to focus waxes and wanes according to your environment. It stands to reason that it’s more difficult to think clearly when you’re being interrupted all the time. Still, work environments that are rife with these kinds of distractions are still the norm. Minimising distractions can go a long way toward boosting your ability to focus and your mental agility. If possible, set aside a time and place for some quiet and focused work each and every day. It doesn’t have to be for long. Even just an hour of uninterrupted work time can go a long way. Also, when you are doing focused work, try to do just one thing at a time. The science on this is clear — multitasking just doesn’t work. So, don’t try to get more done by doing a bunch of things at once. It won’t work. You’ll be more productive if you focus in on just one task at a time.

Let go of self-consciousness: Nothing kills creativity faster than self-consciousness. It’s impossible to be creative when you’re worried about being judged by others. If you want your abilities to really shine, you have to believe in yourself. Research shows a relationship between self-efficacy — or, your belief in your ability to perform specific tasks — and workplace performance. It turns out that how you see yourself has a big impact on your ability to learn and perform at your best. The voice inside your head is more powerful than you might think. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you can’t do something, it’s going to have an impact. And, the opposite is also true. So, if you really want to strengthen your mental agility and perform at the top of your range at work, be aware of this effect and use it to your advantage. You’ll be better equipped to face the cognitive and intellectual challenges you encounter if you do.

Write down as many approaches as you can: When something happens that requires you to rethink your path forward, focus on working through all possible ways of responding to the situation and put them on paper. Think not only about what you would do, but about how others might respond. Challenge yourself to write as many solutions as you can think of within 30 minutes. Doing this will flex your problem-solving muscles and help you see options more clearly.

Learn from the past to direct your future: Look back at how you have responded to challenges in the past – this is probably something many of us have had plenty of practice with in 2020. What did you do well and what could you do better in the future? Is there anything you would replicate or change about your reactions and behaviour? Write your thoughts down so that you can go back and look at your notes later.

Review and refine: Once a week as you’re working through challenges, take some time to reflect and jot down what has gone well, what hasn’t, and what you’d like to do in the future. This shouldn’t take a long time – while the above is a greater reflection exercise, this should be simple, just a few lines focusing on the here and now. Putting pen to paper will help you understand the situation, boost your self-awareness, and visualise how you can improve.

Hope the above tips will help you (and me) to become more mentally agile as we navigate a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

Adaptability: The Simple Secret to Success and Survival

Today’s world is fraught with risk and uncertainty, of risk and unstability. You just have to look at 2020 to see what I am talking about. Our world is constantly changing and we can’t remain as we were, because if we do, we run the risk of losing out.

According to the Cambridge English dictionary, Adaptability is an ability or willingness to change in order to suit different conditions. What this means is that you need to change or be willing to change yourself so as to adapt yourself to the different situations you will come across in life.

So why is adaptability so important today? I believe it is a life skill that if not innate, should be learnt and fast so that as an individual you are agile and are able to tackle any issues or problems in your life, be it at work or in your personal life. Actually we are constantly adapting. The easiest example I can think is in the kitchen. Sometimes you don’t have all the ingredients at hand while cooking, so we substitute ingredients, adapting in the process.

Adaptability is not just about changing something or adjusting to a situation. It encompasses being able to effect changes in a course of action with smoothness and timeliness, without any major setbacks. For as long as there are many uncontrollable factors in our environment such as laws and economic factors, it is necessary to acquire this skill. It is one of the key skills or factors that keep many multinational companies running and the reason why some professionals are always in demand. This skill is important because as new technology evolves, employers are looking for employees who can demonstrate strong adaptability skills and become company leaders.

Adaptability in the workplace means being able to change in order to become successful. In the work environment, adaptability is a soft skill that refers to the ability to rapidly learn new skills and behaviours in response to evolving circumstances. Employers typically look for adaptability when hiring new staff, and the skill is increasingly included in job descriptions due to its importance for growth and development within a role. Someone who demonstrates adaptability in the workplace is flexible and is able to respond effectively to their working conditions, even in situations where things do not go as planned. They typically work well on their own and with team members. The need for adaptability in the workplace – to learn and unlearn – is crucial to future success.

People in leadership positions are often expected to manage unusual situations without explicit instruction. Therefore, an adaptable leader must be able to resolve problems in a fast-paced environment and trust their judgment when making tough decisions. However, at the same time, still recognising that what worked before may not necessarily work every time. So adaptability is a critical leadership skill and potential leaders need to be adaptable and flexible at all times to succeed.

How important can being adaptable be? Well, the short answer is very, as it’s a skill that has no bounds in the ways it can be applied in the workplace. Being adaptable means working without boundaries, and being open to finding diverse and unexpected solutions to problems and challenges in the workplace. Without limitations on thinking and actions, challenges become something not to dread, but to seize and enjoy working through. An adaptable person gets to engage a variety of people with diverse skills to get the job done and builds broad networks of highly engaged and capable people. An adaptable person also becomes a better leader because such people know that change is inevitable and don’t shy from it and remain positive in the face of adversity, keeping their teams and employees focused and motivated through tough or lacklustre periods. Those who are adaptable and willing to change or shake up conventional ways of doing things will remain relevant throughout their working lives because they’re comfortable experimenting. Workplaces are changing faster than ever before, and if you’re not willing to constantly adapt, then expect to be left behind.

Everyone can all benefit from adaptability but, in an ever-changing world, it is particularly crucial for leaders. Leadership roles become more complex as you progress through an organisation, requiring more subtle influencing and persuading skills. Additionally, as a leader’s seniority increases, they must learn to empower, delegate, form strategic alliances and let go of some of the skills that enabled them to perform effectively in previous roles.

Adaptability skills are skill sets that encompass a person’s ability to adjust to changes in their environment. Being adaptable in your career can mean you are able to respond quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes at work. Being adaptable also means possessing soft skills like interpersonal, communication, creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

As a soft skill, adaptability requires a number of other soft skills in order to be applied successfully. You must be able to learn quickly and put that learning into practice. Additionally, you must be able to recollect what you’ve discovered, so you can identify trends and make decisions accordingly. So what constitutes an adaptability skill?

An ability to learn: People with adaptability skills are never discouraged by failure. For them, failure is just a part of learning. These people are always learning and willing to take risks, as long as it means that they can develop personally and professionally. Skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, research, show continuous Improvement, have an attention to detail, be observant and have a great memory.

Persistence: People who adapt well rarely feel the pressure to quit. Every challenge is exciting, and remaining dedicated to their job means pushing through even when things get hard. Likewise, they are able to stay positive and encourage their team members to stay focused during difficult times. Skills that are emblematic of persistence include resilience, positivity, tolerance to stress, motivation and being able to manage expectations.

Resourcefulness: Often the goal is clear, but the path to get there is not. The traditional way of conducting business may not be possible or effective, because there may not be sufficient funding or staffing. That’s where adaptability can be an asset. An adaptable person will be able to source new resources and techniques that less-adaptable colleagues haven’t considered. An adaptable person will show resourcefulness by demonstrating skills like the ability to notice patterns, be creative and innovative, a problem solver, show initiative and curiosity and budget well.

Curiosity: An adaptable person doesn’t get scared by anything different. If anything, it makes them more curious and they want to investigate it further. They are not afraid of ideas, suggestions, or constructive criticism and often demonstrate open-mindedness, investigation, positivity, active listening, nonverbal communication skills and diversity.

Other skills that showcase adaptability include leadership, integrity, determination, team building, analytical, inductive and deductive reasoning, project management and team work, empathy, resource, conflict and time management, problem solving, strategic thinking and being able to conceptualise, flexibility and commitment, being proactive and open and having excellent negotiation, oral and written communication skills.

Being adaptable can depend on how effectively you communicate with your teammates and managers.

Adaptability is a natural skill, but it can be developed and mastered as well. Here are some tips to help improve this skill:

Observe and monitor changes in the environment: People do not see the need for a change until they notice changes in the environment. Adaptability must not be easy, but timely as well. Always make a conscious effort to monitor trends, values and attitudes and compare present observations with past ones and find out what has changed.

Develop a growth mindset: Being adaptable also means being willing to learn and try new things. Developing a growth mindset can positively influence the ability to take on new challenges, find new opportunities to develop knowledge and contribute to new projects. The willingness and motivation to keep improving skills can also show potential and current employer a commitment to professional growth.

Be willing to learn: Observation alone is not enough. If the result of observations suggests a need to learn something new, do not hesitate to do so. While people can learn some things on their own when furnished with appropriate educational resources, others may require tutorials from specialists. Don’t decline to use the services of a professional tutor if necessary.

Avoid procrastination: Don’t just be willing to learn. Take the necessary course of action. Remember that adaptations are more effective when the action is taken earlier.

Acknowledge the fact that changes are bound to occur: Though it is difficult to let go of norms, it is people who matter, not an individual.

Set goals for one’s self: Another method that can help develop adaptability skills might be to set personal goals to improve those aspects of the skillset that are felt to be lacking so the individual can improve their overall ability to adapt to changes in the workplace.

Ask for feedback: As people develop throughout their your career, they might think about requesting feedback or constructive criticism from managers to help them improve on their weaker skills. Positive and constructive feedback can be beneficial for setting goals and achieving success in their career.

Learn to acknowledge and accept change: It can also be highly beneficial to accept change as it occurs. Learning to acknowledge changes in their career can help prepare and adapt to differing circumstances. Additionally, learning how to be willing to accept change can be an effective step toward recognising when adjustments need to be made to make transitions smoother.

Other than the above, some additional tips to help adaptability skills in the workplace include asking for clarifications from peers and superiors to help better process transitions when there are changes to processes, procedures or operational practices. Offer to request for opportunities to work on tasks that may be new or offer to take on responsibilities that require creative approaches. If sharing your ideas with colleagues is something that causes anxiety, set a goal to contribute to team meetings and collaborations. Try getting all aspects of work organised like documents, paperwork, projects and other work information, so everything is prepared in case there are transitions within a job.

An individual can also highlight adaptability skills on resumes or cover letters by showing concrete examples of successes due to these skills. During an interview, highlight adaptability skills by providing the interviewer with examples of how these were applied in past roles and use past experiences and achievements to help answer the interviewer’s questions in a way that shows adaptability.

Being someone who is adaptable is a skill that will stand in good stead all your life, whether in the personal or professional life. Learning how to adapt to change is a soft skill that will not only make the individual a top candidate when applying for roles, but one that has the capacity to give them a renewed optimism about work. It’s a brilliant life skill that has great application in both personal and professional life, so if an individual does not yet have those skills, its time to start implementing these tips to strengthen the adaptability skills today.

Being in the Moment

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. – The Buddha

We’ve heard this before that instead of looking backwards or forwards, we should live in today. But is that something that is easy to do, especially in today’s fast-paced world, where you have so many demands on your life and time? There’s always something coming up that we need to prepare for or anticipate, and our lives are so well-documented that it’s never been easier to get lost in the past. Given the fast pace and hectic schedules most of us keep, a base level of anxiety, stress, and unhappiness is the new norm. We may not even realise it, but this tendency to get sucked into the past and the future can leave us perpetually worn out and feeling out of touch with ourselves.

The cure for this condition is what so many people have been saying all along – conscious awareness and a commitment to staying in the “now.” Living in the present moment is the solution to a problem we may not have known we had. But what does it actually mean to “live in the present moment?” How could we be living in anything but the present?

Living in the present is not just an arbitrary term or a popular phrase—it’s a recognised and evidence-backed lifestyle that psychologists are quick to recommend for those struggling with anxiety and stress in their day-to-day life. Being in the present moment, or the “here and now,” means that we are aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by ruminations on the past or worries about the future, but centered in the here and now. All of our attention is focused on the present moment.

Why is being present minded so important? Being present minded is the key to staying healthy and happy. It helps us fight anxiety, cut down on our worrying and rumination, and keeps us grounded and connected to ourselves and everything around us. Although it has become a popular topic in recent years, living in the present is not just a fad or trendy lifestyle tip, it is a way of life that is backed up by good science. Being present and exerting our ability to be mindful not only makes us happier, it can also help us deal with pain more effectively, reduce our stress and decrease its impact on our health, and improve our ability to cope with negative emotions like fear and anger.

Living in the now is so difficult because we are always encouraged to think about the future or dwell on our past. Advertisements, reminders, notifications, messages, and alerts are all so often geared towards the past or the future. Think about how often we are busy doing something else, perhaps even fully engrossed in it, when we are jolted out of our flow by our phone’s sudden “ding!” Our phones are incredible pieces of technology that allow us to do so much more and do it so much more efficiently than ever before, but we really need to take a break from our phones at least once in a while. Other factors that contribute to our inability to live in the now include the fact that we often edit out the bad parts of our experiences, making our past seem more enjoyable than it really was, we face a lot of uncertainty when we live in the present, which can cause anxiety and our minds simply tend to wander! It can be tough fighting these factors, but luckily we are not slaves to the tendencies of our brains and it is possible to overcome our more destructive or harmful urges and make better choices.

We need to have a balancing act between the past, present, and the future. We need to look back over our past successes and mistakes and learn from them and be planned for the future or prepare ourselves for what is to come.

It’s essential when we want to a healthy life to spend some time thinking about the past and the future, but it’s rare that we don’t think enough about the past or the future—usually our problem is focusing too intently, or even obsessively on the past or the future.

One of the aims of mindfulness and a key factor in living a healthy life is to balance your thoughts of the past, the present, and the future. Thinking about any of them too much can have serious negative effects on our lives, but keeping the three in balance will help us to be happy and healthy people. It’s hard to say what the exact right balance is, but we will know we’ve hit that when we worry less, experience less stress on a regular basis, and find ourselves living the majority of our life in the present. So how do we ensure we get to this healthy balance? Here are some guidelines to keep in mind. Think about the past in small doses, and make sure we are focusing on the past for a reason, perhaps to relive a pleasant experience, or maybe identify where we went wrong, or figure out the key to a past success. We should think about the future in small doses, and make sure we are focusing on the future in a healthy, low-anxiety way which means we don’t spend time worrying about the future and think about the future just long enough to prepare for it and then move on. And lastly, we need to stay in the present moment for the vast majority of our time. It’s easy for me put these down here and I also struggle, but if we keep doing this, we will get better with practice.

So how can we live in the moment, but also plan for our future? It may seem complicated to figure out this delicate balance, but it’s not as complex as it seems. When we engage in mindfulness or present moment meditation, we are not ignoring or denying thoughts of the past or future, we are simply choosing not to dwell on them. It’s okay to acknowledge and label our past and future-focused thoughts, categorise them, and be aware of their importance. The important point is to not allow yourself to get swept up in thinking about the past or future. When we are aware and present, we don’t need to worry about getting caught up in thoughts of our past or anxiety about our future—we can revisit our past and anticipate what is to come without losing ourselves.

Present moment awareness is a great way to cut down on how much you worry. The following six steps will help us become more attuned to the present and rid ourselves of excess anxiety. We should cultivate unselfconsciousness and let go and stop thinking about our performance. We must practice the art of savouring which means avoid worrying about the future by fully experiencing the present. Another step is to focus on our breath and allow mindfulness to make us more peaceful and smooth our interactions with others. And then find our flow and make the most of our time by losing track of it. We should also improve our ability to accept, move toward what is bothering us rather than denying or running away from it. Lastly we should enhance our engagement and work on reducing moments of mindlessness and noticing new things to improve our mindfulness.

For yoga practitioner, it is an excellent way to get connected to the present and stay in the moment. Yoga has many reasons that it is helpful for mindfulness, but one of the biggest is certainly the focus on the breath. However, for people like me, who are yoga-challenged, I believe that breath control and meditation helps in the pretty much the same way. Set aside some time every day, preferably in the mornings and meditate. It is not an instant cure, I will be honest. I used to meditate on and off previously, but since about April this year, I have start meditating seriously and it has taken me about six months for me to actually see results. I feel I am now more aware and also less stressed and things that used to cause me anxiety and stress have actually reduced. The best thing, I have started not worrying about things that don’t really matter and have started to beome non-judgemental and disengage myself from stressful situations which earlier used to make me spend hours worrying about.

I have found five execises which help to strengthen present moment awareness. The first is a mindful body scan, which I love and try to do at least twice a day, once in the morning to energise me and the second in the evening to help me relax. So how do we do a body scan? Sit or lie down and take a few deep, mindful breaths. Notice the way the breath enters and exits our lungs. Starting with your toes, focus the attention on one part of the body at a time. Pay attention to how that area is feeling and notice any sensations that are being experienced. After a few moments of focused attention, move up to the next part of your body, so from the toes to the feet to the calves, abdomen etc. If you are doing a body scan to relax, start from the top of your head and work your way downwards. Not only is a good method for putting you in a mindful state right off the bat, it can also help you notice when your body is feeling differently than normal. You might catch an injury or illness that you wouldn’t normally notice, just by taking a few minutes each morning to scan your body.

Another good exercise that can help set the right mindful tone for the day is to write in a journal. I have spoken about this previously and I like to use Google Docs for this as this allows me to sync the page across my different digital devices. For a more mindful day, when you start your day, take a few minutes and make an entry and write what is in your mind and clear it. Journaling like this allows us to remove all the thoughts from our heads and allow us to relax. The best thing, at least for me, is that these pages are very confidential and nobody other than me can access it. A physical book on the other hand, may land in hands you would rather not read what you have written. You can also visualise your goals which will make it more likely that they will be followed through and become mindful on a more regular basis. I like using project management tools to track my tasks for a week and when I check them off, it is a wonderful feeling. And when I finish my weekly tasks before Sunday, it is a serious high! People also say that taking a mindful walk among nature is a good way to cultivate mindfulness. Just engage all your senses and stay aware of what’s happening both around you and within you, be intentional with your awareness; notice your feet hitting the ground with each step, see everything there is to see around you, open your ears to all the sounds surrounding you, feel each inhale and exhale, and just generally be aware of what is happening in each moment. Lastly before you end your day, take a few minutes and review your day. Think back to the start of the day and remember your mindfulness exercise that kicked it all off. Think about how it made you feel. Think through the rest of your day, being sure to note any particularly mindful moments or memorable events. Take stock of your mood as you moved through your daily routine and end your day on the right note.

You can become mindful at any moment just by paying attention to your immediate experience. You can do it right now. What’s happening this instant? Think of yourself as an eternal witness, and just observe the moment. What do you see, hear, smell? It doesn’t matter how it feels—pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad—you roll with it because it’s what’s present; you’re not judging it. And if you notice your mind wandering, bring yourself back. Just say to yourself, “Now. Now. Now.”

Here’s the most fundamental paradox of all: Mindfulness isn’t a goal, because goals are about the future, but you do have to set the intention of paying attention to what’s happening at the present moment. Become aware of being alive. And breathe. As you draw your next breath, focus on the rise of your abdomen on the in-breath, the stream of heat through your nostrils on the out-breath. If you’re aware of that feeling right now, as you’re reading this, you’re living in the moment. Nothing happens next. It’s not a destination. This is it. You’re already there.

Meditation – To open your eyes, close them

Wikipedia defines Meditation as a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Scholars have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions and within them.

Meditation has been practiced since 1500 BCE antiquity in numerous religious traditions, often as part of the path towards enlightenment and self realization. The earliest records of meditation or Dhanya as it is called in Sanskrit, come from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism. Since the 19th century, Asian meditative techniques have spread to other cultures where they have also found application in non-spiritual contexts, such as business and health.

Meditation may be used with the aim of reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increasing peace, perception, self-concept, and well-being. Meditation is under research to define its possible health benefits which could be psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular as well as other effects.

Meditation has been associated with all the major religions of the world, be it Hindusim, Islam, Jainism,Buddhisim or Christianity. There have been many religious practices which has its roots in meditation, be it chanting the lord’s name with a rosary or sitting in one position and comtemplating the infinite.

I have written about meditation previously, but even though I have tried meditating in fits and bursts, after a few days, I usually find myself starting to slack. Earlier this year, I restarted meditating again. It started with someone asking if I was interested in being a part of a group for Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation course. Intrigued, I said yes and started the programme. During the programme, I also came across an app which was giving free access to all their meditation programmes for a year because of the current situation and I decided to take them up on their offer. Initially, I used to meditate at night before bed, but soon started falling back on old habits and trying to miss one day thinking it was no big deal. Then I switched it up. I started waking up about 30 minutes earlier daily to meditate and to my big surprise, this really worked for me. I found that I really liked being awake early enough when the house was in silence and the 15 minutes I spent on my practice started paying off. These days, I find myself waking up early even on weekends and public holidays, when I would normally sleep in, just because I want to meditate in silence and darkness (or with minimal light). I have now been consistent with my practice for more than two months and it has done wonders in my own behaviour. I feel that I have become less anxious and also feel more positive these days, with the cloud of negativity that usually hangs around me, lessened to a great degree. I am also trying to be more grateful to things around me, which is a positive thing.

Mediation is a practice and you only get better the longer you practice it. Every meditation practice is unique in its own way and even if you feel you did not have a good practice, incrementally you are getting better. Meditation is great for both physical, mental and spiritual well-being. It lowers your blood pressure, improves blood circulation, lowers heart rate, reduces anxiety, slows down your respitory rate, reduces anxiety, lowers blood cortisol levels, reduces stress, gives you feelings of well-being and improves and deepens your sense of relaxation.

Contemporary researchers are now exploring whether a consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among meditators. Yet it’s worth repeating that the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher may say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It’s simply to be present.

Meditation is not as difficult as we think. All we need to do is sit in a quiet place with no distractions. Close your eyes and start focussing on the one thing we all have and do – our breathing. Just breathe naturally, there is no need to to changeyour breathing style and technique. If you mind wanders, and this is common and natural, just acknowledge it and go back to focussing on your breathing. You may also feel phantom itches and perhaps pain. When this happens, again acknowledge it and go back to your breath. When you start, you can start at 1-2 minutes and then once you become comfortable, slowly start increasing the time and you can go as long as 15-20 minutes. The longer you practice meditation, the more your focus becomes sharper and you can after some time, focus on your breathing without your mind wandering for the entire duration of the meditation.

During times like this, when we are anxious on so many levels and worry about our health, finances and scores of other things, a meditation practice will help you manage your anxieties and help you get a grip on things so that you don’t get overwhelmed.