Can we change our luck?

March 17, 2024
written by:Claire Brandon, M.D.

When St. Patrick’s Day comes around, I have a lot of positive feelings. It’s nearing the start of Spring weather and we get to have fun green treats to celebrate. Most of all, it gets me thinking about luck. Working as a psychiatrist many patients throughout the years have felt “unlucky.” Often this is us stuck in a more a pessimistic view of something that has recently happened. But if we’re feeling this way, can we change our luck?

Let’s consider something that we can do on our own. Positive psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on studying and promoting positive emotions, experiences, and traits that contribute to a fulfilling and meaningful life. Unlike traditional psychology, which often focuses on identifying and treating pathology, positive psychology emphasizes building strengths, enhancing well-being, and fostering optimal human functioning.

List of Positive Psychology Principles you can start doing today

In this type of work, we can think of using a range of tools and practices that can be applied to enhance well-being, foster resilience, and promote overall happiness. Here are several ways you can use positive psychology principles and interventions in your day to day and see how it might impact your mood and your “luck.” 

Gratitude Practice:

 Keep a gratitude journal where you write down things you are grateful for each day. This practice can help shift your focus toward positive aspects of your life, increase feelings of gratitude, and improve overall well-being.

Mindfulness Meditation: 

Practice mindfulness meditation to cultivate present-moment awareness, reduce stress, and enhance overall mental clarity and emotional regulation. Mindfulness exercises can include focused breathing, body scan meditations, and mindful walking.

Identifying Strengths:

 Use assessments such as the VIA Character Strengths survey to identify your core strengths and virtues. Once you know your strengths, find ways to apply them in your daily life, work, relationships, and personal goals to boost confidence, engagement, and fulfillment.

Positive Affirmations: 

Use positive affirmations to challenge negative self-talk and promote self-esteem and optimism. Repeat affirmations related to your strengths, goals, and positive qualities regularly to reinforce positive beliefs about yourself.

Engage in Flow Activities: 

Engage in activities that promote a state of flow, where you are fully immersed and absorbed in the present moment. Flow activities often align with your skills and challenges, leading to a sense of accomplishment, enjoyment, and fulfillment.

Practice Acts of Kindness: 

Perform acts of kindness regularly, whether it’s helping a friend in need, volunteering in your community, or simply offering a kind word to someone. Acts of kindness not only benefit others but also promote feelings of happiness, connection, and purpose.

Set Meaningful Goals: 

Set goals that align with your values, strengths, and aspirations. Break down large goals into manageable steps, create action plans, and celebrate progress along the way. Pursuing meaningful goals can provide a sense of purpose and motivation.

Cultivate Positive Relationships: 

Invest time and effort in nurturing positive relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and community members. Practice active listening, empathy, and kindness in your interactions, and seek opportunities to strengthen social connections and support networks.

Practice Self-Compassion: 

Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, especially during challenging times or when facing setbacks. Practice self-compassion exercises such as self-soothing techniques, writing compassionate letters to yourself, and recognizing common humanity in difficult experiences.

Seek Professional Support: 

If you’re dealing with mental health challenges or seeking personal growth, consider working with a therapist or coach trained in positive psychology interventions. They can provide personalized strategies, support, and guidance tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Conclusion

By incorporating these positive psychology practices into your daily life, you can work towards cultivating a more positive mindset, build resilience and enhance relationships. And maybe, by adjusting our view of the world towards the more positive, we can actually change our luck by being more in control of it.  

Claire Brandon, M.D.

Dr. Brandon is a dual board-certified psychiatrist in both adult psychiatry and consultation-liaison psychiatry (treatment of psychiatric illness in medically ill adults). She completed her residency and fellowship training at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and did a second fellowship in public psychiatry at New York University in New York City

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