By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Three steps to a flourishing life.
Mental health programs frequently stop at just treating mental illness. We’ve learned that merely treating your depression or anxiety or other mental illness does not create a happy, flourishing life. When I ask people what makes them happy, many people struggle for an answer.
It’s easy to confuse happiness with temporary bursts of pleasure. The only way that many adults know how to have fun is to use drugs, alcohol, or engage in sex or other risky behaviors. It turns out there’s a lot of ways to have a pleasant, contented life that don’t involve the so-called adult pleasures.
Over the last couple of decades, a new movement has emerged in the mental health and wellness field called positive psychology. Positive psychology tries to look beyond reducing pain and temporary bursts of pleasure to the creation of those peak experiences that are sometimes described as the good life, flourishing, or experiencing episodes of flow. Here are some steps to take you to whenever you would subjectively describe as your good, ideal life.
Decrease your negative emotions.
Some negative emotions are an essential part of living life. Anxiety can be a productive emotion when it warns you of danger. If something awful happens in your life, when someone you love dies, when you lose a job, or a relationship ends, it’s reasonable and even normal to be sad for a while. But suppose your life is overwhelmed by anxiety and depression. In that case, we diagnose those as mental illnesses, and the first part of the journey to a good life is overcoming those excesses of negative emotions. Unfortunately, treating mental illness is where most mental health treatment programs end.
Increase your positive emotions.
The more you can experience positive emotions, as the quality of your life improves. The human brain is biased. It places a premium on recognizing danger and unhappiness. It’s easy to walk right past beauty and positive experiences without ever noticing them. Learn to become a happiness expert. Stop and smell the roses. Along the way don’t forget to smell all the other flowers and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Many people can readily recall all the problems they’ve had in relationships. It’s common for couples who come to marriage counseling to have a list of their complaints about their partner. What is usually missing are any memories of the happy occasions. If you want a flourishing life, make sure you collect as many positive feelings and memories as possible.
Create a flourishing life full of zest and vitality.
The people who say that they have a good quality of life are almost uniformly full of zest and vitality. Sometimes these two terms are used interchangeably. Vitality generally refers to physical health. The term zest, more commonly, is applied to emotional enthusiasm. If you enjoy what you do every day, you will have a subjectively more joyous life.
People who lack zest for life drift into inactivity and can become couch potatoes. They may burn out on their work and relationships. The best way to create a life worth living is to engage in the activities that energize you rather than wear you out. When you enjoyed the work you do for a living, it won’t wear you out or pull you down. If you want an exceptionally good life, emphasize the things that energize you.
Increase your life satisfaction.
In all these ways, seek to increase your life satisfaction. You only get one life. You can live each day burdened by your cares, or life can be a grand adventure in which every day adds to your quality of life.
I’ve listed some simple takeaways from the articles I’ve read on positive psychology and having a better life. Does the life you’re living bring you joy? What activities do you engage in which give your life meaning and purpose? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!
My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seems like the right time to publish it.
Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.
Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.
As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.
Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?
Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.
For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel