Therapy is excellent for when we are hurting, stuck in ruts, and struggling with how to move past the obstacles in our path. But what about after we’ve moved beyond our current trial? What then? In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I came that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.” We are not meant to merely survive and get by; we are meant to live richly!
Fortunately, we are learning even more about how to live life to the fullest through the work of Positive psychologists. Sonya Lyubomirsky is a happiness researcher and the author of The How of Happiness. These are some major points from her research on what enhances human flourishing.
1. Expressing gratitude
People who are consistently grateful have been found to be happier, more energetic, and more hopeful. It doesn’t have to be elaborate either, simply take a few minutes daily or weekly to list and think about the people and elements in your life that bring you joy.
2. Cultivating optimism
Try the “Best Possible Self” experiment. Journal daily this week for roughly twenty minutes about your best possible self – the self that you are currently becoming and will be in the future. Participants in this exercise were “more likely to show immediate increases in positive moods, to be happier several weeks later, and even to report fewer physical ailments several months thence.”
3. Avoiding overthinking and social comparison
You are on your own unique path and journey. Resist the urge to compare yourself to others.
4. Practicing acts of kindness
Giving back to others gives us immense joy because it is part of how God wired us. What is a simple way you can lighten someone’s burden today? A kind smile a stranger may mean more to them than you know.
5. Nurturing relationships
Life can be hectic and fast-paced, and it’s too easy to make excuses for not meeting friends and loved ones for quality time. This time is of the utmost importance though. We need one another to flourish, grow, and live joyfully.
6. Learning to forgive
By the grace of God we can find ways to let go of our wounds, even when they run deep. One of the best ways is by forgiving. If the hurt was severe enough it can take months or even years for someone to fully forgive, but doing so allows freedom and peace to emerge.
7. Doing more activities that truly engage you
Getting lost in something is a valuable experience, and often these are creative pursuits that enrich the world. Whether it’s cooking, writing, knitting, or some other activity, be intentional about your engagement in life.
8. Savoring life’s joys
It really is true that “it’s the little things.” No matter how chaotic or difficult life gets, there is always the rich color of a flower, the giggle of a child, or the feeling of a breeze to experience and enjoy.
9. Committing to your goals
Commitment to goals is what gives our life a narrative arc. God has fashioned each of us with distinctive gifts to serve the world with. What are the passions He has implanted in you? How can you use them to bless others?
10. Taking care of your body
Your body is your vehicle in the world and it will be for your entire life. Make sure you are being a good steward of it. Your moods, body image, health, and energy will thank you for eating nutritiously and being active.