Positive Psychology Exercises (List)

It is the core belief of positive psychology that the people can lead a joyful, more meaningful, and satisfying life by shifting their focus away from the pessimistic to a more balanced viewpoint. 

The abundant, accessible, research-based activities mean that professionals have a rare ability to help clients achieve greater satisfaction, purpose, and contentment.

Many activities in positive psychology are considered classics-and for a valid reason. Although practices such as journaling appreciation and reflection on loving-kindness have been proven to contribute to successful results, the purpose of this blog is to include a number of fresh and innovative positive psychology exercises.

To help your clients experience the fundamental pillars of positive psychology including good life, pleasant life, and meaningful life, and teach to reciprocate (in terms of psychology), the following exercises can be applied in several clinical settings.

You can also get help and learn skills in the Foundation for positive Mental health.

1. Self-Care Vision Board

This exercise is great for enhancing self-care, self-compassion, creativity, and inspiration in individuals. It can be performed either in groups or individually. This activity requires about 60 minutes.

Self-care is the intentional practice of self-care exercises to enhance social, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Empathy, immunological regulation, and reduced rates of anxiety and depression have been shown to be correlated with the desire to respond to and fulfill personal needs by self-care (Schure, Christopher, & Christopher, 2008).

Self-care activities also have the capacity, according to Baker (2003), to improve awareness about self, self-regulation, coping, self-balancing, and so forth.

For this activity, clients must make a list of as many prospective self-care activities as possible, making certain that to include those activities only that they would enjoy completing and that match up with their way of living and beliefs. Clients should then find uplifting and optimistic images and come up with words and phrases corresponding to their chosen self-care activities for each of the activities listed.

Clients should then compile their vision board and position it in a popular, recognizable location to serve as a tangible image that represents self-care concepts and as a motivator for self-care changes and execution. 

You can get detailed instructions on this exercise from here.

2. The Passengers on a Bus Metaphor

This is a great exercise for enhancing the knowledge of individuals about their values, increasing acceptance in them, improving their insight about their emotions, and self-criticism. This activity can be performed either in groups or individually. It requires 10 minutes to be done individually and 30-40 minutes when performed in groups. 

Metaphors are effective, concrete ways to talk about interactions and fill the void between what is or has been, and what will be (Burns, 2017). Within the therapy setting, metaphors serve the purpose of helping clients to efficiently and effectively accomplish their goals.

The passengers on the bus metaphor exercise explain how our lives apparently are driven by personal experiences. The metaphor may be used to illustrate the likelihood of an existence in which the choices are not made by these experiences; instead, they are embraced and briefly remain in the mind like passengers on a bus.

For this activity, you ‘re a bus driver, the bus represents your mind and the passengers portray your thoughts. Some passengers sit silently on your voyage while others are making skeptic and irritating remarks, or shouting directions as you drive.

You can decide whether and how to react to the passengers just like you can decide how to respond to critical thinking. You can permit those passengers to noisily shout and chat while keeping your attention focused on the journey toward your objective.

The passengers on the bus metaphor may be reintroduced whenever, during subsequent appointments, a person encounters emotions, perceptions, or actions that could hinder or threaten their advancement. The practitioner might ask, referring to the metaphor, “Which passenger is intrusive and irritating?

For more details about this exercise, click here.

3. Positive Reminiscence

Positive reminiscence activity is another interesting activity that helps enhance positive emotions in individuals, enable them to savor good moments, helps them improve thier self-confidence, and so forth. This activity is performed individually. It requires only 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

Savoring is the conscious awareness of enjoyment and the recognition, appreciation, and enhancement of positive experiences. A complementary counterpart to coping with, savoring can help clients go through negative life events (Bryant & Veroff, 2006). When clients know how to savor little pleasures of life, they continue to understand and maintain the positive emotions that come with those experiences.

The Positive Reminiscence activity will help individuals improve savoring techniques and create optimistic feelings by reliving a pleasant experience from the past. 

Clients will take some time during the activity to talk of an incident from their memory that evokes meaningful thoughts, visualizes the occurrence in as much depth as possible, and reflects on the good feelings felt at the moment. The aim of the client will be to restore the interaction and improve both the duration and intensity of the good emotions.

4. Gratitude by Mental Elimination

This exercise is a very effective way of enhancing feelings of gratitude, awareness about self and others, and mindfulness. It is to be performed individually. This activity requires only 5 to 15 minutes to be completed.

According to Koo, Algoe, Wilson, & Gilbert (2008), affective conditions are more enhanced by consciously ignoring successful experiences relative to constantly worrying regarding the occurrence of these incidents. To put it plainly, consciously deleting a good experience will help reassure people of how lucky they are and how it would be had the incident never occurred.

To begin the exercise of Gratitude through Mental Elimination, direct the client to think at the present moment, about something good in their life, and then take a moment to imagine what life would be like without that one good thing. Without this one good thing, clients should then note down the ways their lives would vary. To know more about this activity, click here.

5. Beauty Lists

For this activity, you are supposed to find beauty around you. Take a couple of minutes to seek out and find beauty in 5 things around you. Focus on your surroundings, senses, pleasant sights, sounds, smells, sensations, or tastes. Do this occasionally or as frequently as you wish. 

This activity prepares us to experience happiness, motivation and contentment in things we ignore and take for granted in particular.

6. The Gratitude Journal

For this activity, you have to take out about 15 to 30 minutes every week. Identify 3 things for which you feel truly grateful.  Describe in detail about them, how they happened to come to be in your life, and how they have a positive impact. 

Experiencing gratitude deliberately nurtures an attitude of optimism and hope about the world. This changes our view from fear of danger and poverty to one of comfort and confidence.

7. Mental Subtraction

This activity takes about 15 to 30 minutes to be completed. For this activity, you have to identify one meaningful life experience. Write down the effect of the successful incident on your life in detail for 5 minutes. Take into account your life without such a positive event for the second half of this activity, and the positive influence that stems from it. 

This practice cultivates a world-famous disposition of contentment and appreciation.

8. Acts of Kindness

Target to do 5 acts of kindness in 1 day for most effect. Do so with the aim to display love to everyone you meet in a day. Any gesture, however big or tiny it may be, counts! 

Examples of kindnesses include a smiling face, a nice comment, giving a little gift, holding open a gate, writing a token of appreciation, or offering to help a neighbor or coworker. This exercise of great for enhancing feelings of joy and gratitude.

9. Make an Effective Apology

For this activity, you have to apologize, keeping in mind the six significant components of an apology. These 6 important components include acknowledging the offense, seeking responsibility, expressing remorse, offering redress, coming otto repeat the same act, and behaving empathetically as well as genuinely.

This exercise is a great source of developing feelings of contentment and pride in an individual.

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10. Three Funny Things

Write down three humorous items that you encountered in a single day, and why it occurred. For instance,  was this something that you were involved directly in, something you witnessed, or something unexpected? 

When you are able to laugh about yourself and your situations, it means you are not taking life too seriously. Laughing is contagious, of all the best!

If you’re unable to deduce your boundaries or limits and have difficulty because of it, you should try the Setting Boundaries Exercises.

You should also try out the self-acceptance exercises as their aim is the same as positive psychology exercises.

Recommended Books 

What are the three main pillars of positive psychology?

The three main pillars of positive psychology include positive experiences, positive individual traits, and positive institutions.

What is positive psychology in psychology?

Positive psychology is the research of the strengths that allow individuals and communities to succeed. The field is based on the belief that individuals want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, nurture what is best within themselves, and significantly improve their affection, work, and play experiences.

What are the goals of positive psychology?

Many who pursue positive psychology seek therapeutic strategies that promote optimistic attitudes about their own emotional perceptions, personality characteristics, and incidents in life. The objective is to minimize pathological thoughts that may arise in a hopeless mindset, and to develop a sense of optimism towards life instead.

How is positive psychology applied?

What does “making life better” signify? Positive thinking at its highest is more facilitative than prescriptive. It’s not supposed to tell us how to be but instead to inspire us to specify our own goals and help us accomplish them. It appears to apply to the life generally, and thus to the individual as well as society.

What are the principles of positive psychology?

The Three Pillars: Positive psychology has three main concerns: positive experiences, positive individual characteristics, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions involve studying fulfillment with the past, present-day happiness and optimism for the future.

How can positive psychology improve life?

The research which comes from positive psychology is very interesting. Evidence suggests you can increase your degree of satisfaction significantly and quickly just by doing something good about someone else. These people are happier, they have better relationships, they love others more and they feel better about themselves.

This blog mentioned various positive psychology exercises. If you have any questions or queries regarding this blog, let us know through your comments. We will be glad to assist you.

References 

19 Positive psychology Exercises To Do With Clients or Students by Elaine Houston (2020)

Positive psychology | Exercises for building happiness – Part 1

6 Exercises from Positive psychology to Boost Your Happiness

Amazon.com 

Unsplash.com 

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