«I recommend writing about yourself two or three times a week»

Reading that you can handle everything in a cup will not make you stronger, in the same way that hearing that everything will be fine will not make life change to your liking. This is sad, but realistic. However, although we cannot change by magic, we can learn to be happy and constantly grow personally.

Iago Taibo, psychologist and author of 'Positive psychology: learn to be happy with the science of well-being'
Iago Taibo, psychologist and author of ‘Positive psychology: learn to be happy with the science of well-being’ – ITEM

The tools can be obtained through the positive psychologywhich is not the same as positive thinking, in case you had thought about it.

The psychologist Iago Taibo wants to transmit this way of living positively and the tools you need to achieve it, something that began with the PositivArte project and that he now includes in his book ‘Positive psychology: learn to be happy with the science of well-being’ (Desclée De Brouwer).

What is positive psychology?

We could summarize it as the science of well-being. Since it emerged in 1998, within psychology we realized that it was necessary to complement what was being done up to then, since it was excessively focused on negative symptoms: discomfort, stress, anxiety, depression, phobias… And we must also study positive factors: sense of humor, optimism, how happiness or positive emotions work… Of course, this must be done with the same rigor and scientific basis as more traditional psychology. What’s more, if it doesn’t have a solid foundation, we shouldn’t frame it within positive psychology, since it would be something invented and unfounded.

“If you want you can”. Is this positive psychology?

Not at all. In fact, it makes us quite angry when we are confused with this, which is a very different and almost opposite movement known as ‘positive thinking’. We would like everything to be as easy as reading on a cup that everything will turn out, but this does not guarantee that life will be as you want. We’d love it to be that easy, but it’s not. Life is not what we want, life is what it is.

Sometimes we only focus on the negative. What can we do to identify the positive that happens to us on a daily basis?

There is a very good exercise that consists of creating a routine before going to sleep, writing down at least three positive things that have happened to us during the day and the influence that we have had in making them happen. It is a very simple strategy that only takes a few minutes. If we commit to doing it, little by little we will be more attentive when something positive happens to us throughout the day and we will tend to remember it more, because writing about anything facilitates the impact it has on our brain.

«Competitiveness, fear of making a mistake, criticism or comparisons are habits that reduce well-being», Iago Taibo.

In this sense, what else do positive emotions bring us?

They facilitate efficiency in memory processes, because when we are relaxed, we remember better; they improve the visual field, the opposite of stress, which narrows it; we are able to open ourselves more to perceive; they increase creative thinking; the diversity of connections in the brain is also increased… They also have many health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, and altruism, for example, occurs more when we feel happy.

What are the obstacles we encounter to achieve this positivism?

I believe that certain trends in the educational system are favoring negative styles when it comes to thinking. In addition, the social should enhance our positivity, because it has been that way for a long time in our species, but it is not working well at the moment. Competitiveness, fear of making a mistake, criticism or comparisons are habits that reduce well-being. But for me the main cause is that self-esteem is not right, as well as excessive stimuli. This is overwhelming and makes us not know what to prioritize. It is becoming really complex to live due to the amount of stimuli.

“First you have to know yourself to be able to strengthen your weak points later”, Iago Taibo.

How can we manage this?

An essential factor is to know yourself and be consistent with your values. That’s why I recommend everyone to write about themselves two or three times a week, even for 10 minutes. If you do not have a clarification system that tells you how you are living, how you want to live and how you can unite these two points, discomfort will appear, and it is very easy for this to happen.

First you have to get to know yourself to be able to strengthen the weak points you need to have a good level of well-being: in some it may be a sense of humor, in others optimism…

What is the importance of emotional intelligence in all this?

It is one of the most important factors in positive psychology. My emotional intelligence allows me, for example, to ignore the thoughts that come into my head when I’m tired or not to argue with my partner if I don’t have a good level of consciousness. In the end it is a great compass that shows us how we and others are and how we can manage what we feel.

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