Have you been exposed to the surging growth in the “Happiness Movement”. It’s appearing everywhere for me…social media, television and in print. I just discovered a link to the “Happiness and Its Causes” conference taking place in Sydney in June this year. Here, for close to $2000 over 4 days, you can hear top speakers in the field of psychology, mindfulness and behaviour change (just to name a few) share and uncover what will bring “lasting, genuine happiness for you, those you love and those in your care”.
Overall, happiness has to do with the positive experience of emotions.
My questioning has led me to ask…but why confine ourselves only to the pursuit of happiness? Is happiness the end of the road? How do we measure happiness and know when we have reached our capacity for it (if there is one)? Can we have too much of a good thing? And what about negative emotions (like mad, sad and afraid), those shadow parts of ourselves, what is their role in this search for being a happy person.
And so I discovered the concept of FLOURISHING.
Recently I undertook a 10 day Flourishing Mission.
Some of you may have followed along with me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/thejoyspaceau/
The “Mission” was created by Kari Henley, a writer for the Huffington Post, and is based on the work of Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a leading scholar in positive psychology.
In her book, Positivity, Dr. Fredrickson explores the 10 most common positive emotions that can promote a state of flourishing in ourselves.
and of course, LOVE.
The invitation was to bring each of these emotions into our awareness consecutively over the course of 10 days and to experiment to see if we can take in the essence of each emotion and bring it out in others.
The results of such an experiment would vary for every individual and their circumstances. For me personally, it was a meaningful experience and one that furthered my ability to label and identify my emotions. But it also went beyond just providing an increased awareness of my feelings. I felt as though I was able to really embody these positive emotions by bringing a spotlight to them.
I woke in the middle of the night a couple of days after Day 10 and had an overwhelming sense of falling in love with myself…not in an ego sense, but from a place of divine self-love. I doubt I will ever forget the comfort, the peace, the strength, that this feeling evoked in me…and for that I am eternally grateful…being able to love myself right where I AM.
What particularly resonates with me about Dr. Fredrickson’s approach to positive psychology, is her acknowledgement that we cannot live only in positive emotions. She promotes a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions for flourishing, whilst also noting that “higher is better, within bounds.”
I love to honour my shadow.
In a Qoya class, the embodied movement practice that I am training to teach, a safe space is provided for acknowledging and embracing the shadow parts of ourselves…the negative emotions. The Shadow Contrast Dance allows these parts to have a voice. We invite ourselves to reflect on what it feels like in our bodies when we experience a negative emotion or feeling and then we move deeper into those feelings through the modality of free dance to music. In doing so we provide a contextual appropriateness for the negative emotion to be seen and heard and possibly healed.
I believe in happiness, I believe in the power of positive psychology, I believe in loving all parts of myself and honouring my shadow AND I choose to shape my experience of life to have maximum opportunity to access this 3:1 ratio.
I see many references to shapes in psychology; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs triangle, the circle of the Happiness Pie or the Strengths Wheel, the curvature and intersection of the lines in Giselda Wending’s theories of liminal pathways to change.
I see these shapes reflected in my journey through life and I trust that life does not always need to be linear, that it is the shapes that bring growth and a richness to my experience.
I invite you to take a moment to reflect on what shapes you see in your life.
I am planning to bring the Flourishing Mission to my workshops and events soon and hope that we may be able to share in this experience…so watch my space, The Joy Space.