Getting Positive with Paul

Welcome back. Last month we introduced you to Budapest resident happiness expert, Paul Pahil, founder of September’s “Budapest Happiness Week”. His professional mission is based on his belief that all people have the right to experience the richness and benefits of optimal living. This month we’ll continue our discussion on positive psychology.

Paul, Is a difference between Positive Psychology and positive thinking?

Yes, there is a huge difference! Positive thinking is not a science whereas Positive Psychology is a science which has gained vast amounts of research funding from corporate donors who find it attractive by providing users a competitive edge. Topics such as peak performance, resilience, creativity are very well received in the field of industry and commerce as it gathers data about positive human functioning. According to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s leading research, the more challenging flow-inducing activities we introduce into our lives, the more creative and motivated we will become.

Positive Psychology does not ignore the ‘negative’, instead it calls upon us to make a fundamental mind-shift. We know from recent neuroscience research that our brains are wired to focus mostly on the negative; assessing what’s wrong with a situation or people. This made sense in the early period of human evolution when it was critical to notice a wild animal about to eat you. Over the last 20 years it is not particularly adaptive to maintain focus in the same way, as wild animals are far less likely to eat us. What is required now in the workplace are the skills of emotional intelligence and creativity, unfortunately our brains have yet to catch up with the changing landscape. Positive Psychology, as a science, can add increased benefits by ensuring people address this balance and consider what is right with themselves and their teams. This will aid in engaging more.

What specific tools does the science of Positive Psychology offer?

Everyone has motivations which are unique. We need to discover what cultivates genuine and heartfelt positivity for you. Everybody is different when it comes to the optimal conditions that trigger positive emotions. This means that your own path to ‘flourishing’ (discussed in the previous issue) will be unique. Selecting the most personalised strategies increase the possibilities that you will succeed. For example, expressing gratitude could be effective for you in decreasing your stress while increasing your self worth and strengthening your existing relationships.

We all have a genetic happiness set point that accounts for 50% of our happiness, 10% of our happiness comes from our life’s circumstances, like where we live, what car we drive, how much money we make, etc. The remaining 40% comes from how we choose to be happy everyday (i.e. our daily activities). These strategies focus on developing and refining the remaining 40%.

Once you find the strategy that fits your current position you tend to find other complementary activities to boost that 40% of your happiness which is within your power to change. You can select from activities that best match your personality, resources, goals and needs. Each of the activities is presented with empirical evidence on its ability to produce desired results and makes suggestions for related activities that might also fit. These activities represent habits rather than goals, and as such, could be put into practice most days. For example, savouring the moment is very different than being in flow. Being engaged in flow is being fully immersed in the moment, whereas savouring involves stepping out of the moment to fully appreciate it. The answer to becoming happier and flourishing is a diverse matter which may be worth pursuing.

I would like to thank Paul for sharing his insight and experience with on the topics of flourishing, Positive Psychology, and tools to help us live happier, more positive lives. Please look for more information this summer regarding the free events that will be held in both English and Hungarian during this September’s ‘Budapest Happiness Week’. You can also find out more from all the topics covered on Hungry 4 Learning’s webpage eleteroweb.eu

Paul Pahil is able to recall his first experience of flow in Karate, he was of 12 years of age. Further flow experiences led him to become British and Regional Karate Champion at the age of 14. With his interest in sports and his goal to enhance his performances in national competitions, he undertook studies in sports science at university. By then he was regularly coaching adults to increase their performance and well-being. Upon completion, Paul continued training teams of diverse nationalities at British Airways until he moved to Budapest in 2004. It was only natural for Paul to undertake studies in psychology and post-graduate studies in positive psychology. Fundamentally Paul believes we need to build and extend our emotional resilience on a daily basis. Finally you can bend without breaking and you can rebound back feeling stronger about your future.