Many people find the road to happiness after a long journey of struggle, but Michelle McQuaid (http://www.michellemcquaid.com/) had everything one could want in order to be happy. Yet, she felt this strong sense of dissatisfaction and struggled just getting out of bed, despite the fact she had a great job, her family, and her health.
McQuaid’s Journey to Positive Psychology
She found herself drawn to Positive Psychology, as it was not about how to gain material things, but on human flourishing and the ways in which to live a full, authentic life. It was there she learned to reduce her self-doubt and increase her confidence, as well as enjoy her present moments. Not only did it result in positive outcomes at work, but it was so effective that she now teaches these practices and strategies to businesses, professions, and now to US!
Michelle’s 5 Simple Steps
McQuaid’s steps are practical and simple enough for anyone to integrate it into their lives.
Step 1: Feel Good
Sounds almost too simple right? Don’t worry, as with every step, Michelle first gives the science behind the goal for each step and then gives four to five ways in which we can apply it.
The first practical thing that is asked for us to do is to open ourselves for positive emotions to flow: joy, gratitude, hope, pride, amusement, love, anything that will make you feel more optimistic, resilient, and accepting.
She backs this up by presenting research conducted by Barbara Fredrickson that shows that our brain performs better when it’s positive.
One of the applications she provides us if we want to feel good is the simple exercise of practicing kindness. Doing good to others and for others will undoubtedly make us feel more positive emotions, as we feel a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.
Step 2: Be Engaged
In this step we are meant to identify in ourselves what Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow”, in other words this to find our special thing. The reason being is that when you have a goal that balances our strengths we no longer feel bored or anxious because we are doing that is challenging, but enjoyable.
For those who have trouble finding their flow, this quote by Carl Jung can be helpful:
“What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.”
Finding your flow doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever fix a weakness of yours, but to invest more of your time on building your strengths.
Step 3: Get Connected
Research has shown that the more connections we have, the better we function. Sharing positive emotions with others, mirroring their body language, or embracing mutual feelings of care with others will make you feel much more closer to that person. In fact, research has shown that it takes only a micro-moment to make a genuine connection with someone.
A very simple way to apply this is just by showing appreciation and gratitude towards someone in your life. The moment you do that you will feel a social bond that will eventually result in better functioning.
Step 4: Live Purposefully
This goes hand in hand with step two of being engaged in whatever activities you’re participating in. Live your life in a way that you wake up every single day knowing that there’s something to do today that will serve a purpose to yourself, your family, and/or to others.
Focusing on your calling will help you that much more to living purposefully.
Step 5: Keep Growing
The final step is to never to stop growing or think that you have grown enough. When we believe that we are born a certain way and that trait is fixed then we are more likely to avoid challenges or we become unwilling to challenge ourselves.
One way to change this fixed mindset is to pay attention to the stories we tell ourselves when we are faced with criticism or failure. If we believe that our identity is those criticisms then we will never grow.
Generating alterative explanations to challenge our negative beliefs will help us take on more challenges and risks to help us discover something new about ourselves.
On top of the five steps McQuaid also suggests guiding our lives by eating well, valuing our habits (e.g. making positive ones), and to always try something new to keep it fresh.
This was a very well written book that used clear and precise language to give sensible steps and advice. It is only 26 pages long but there is a plethora of information to digest if you want a little help to make a positive change. Of course, how easy the applications are depends on you and if you are ready to take on the challenge. It may get a little uncomfortable but these practical steps show that its well worth the struggle.
What I am interested in knowing more of from Michelle is how she found that motivation to make those changes. Many of us get this short burst of fiery motivation and we feel ready to take on the challenge, but many times the fire burns out after about a month or so.
It would be nice to see if she would be willing to also give us strategies on how to keep that motivation going on a long-term basis. Another thing I am interested in knowing more of is how to know if we do not live a life that is functioning and flourishing. Many of us live on standby and we can’t tell if we are happy or simply comfortable in our routine. Knowing how to recognize if we are living in a bubble of our comfort zone could also be another interesting feat she takes on. Overall, this was a great eBook and I suggest you all to go on her website and get it.
Go to Michelle’s website to sign up and you’ll get an email with her ‘Five Tested Practical Steps To Move You from Functioning to Flourishing’.