Last night Caroline Wozniacki made it into her first Grand Slam semifinals at the US Open. An absolutely fantastic accomplishment. But what I think is even more amazing is the way the 19-year old consistently uses her psychology to her advantage. Minutes before yesterday’s match against home favourite, 17-year old Melanie Oudin, reporters asked her how she felt about having the entire home crowd against her and she replied: “They won’t be against me – they’ll just be cheering for Melanie”. An incredibly cool, cheerful and mature statement at a moment when her adrenalin must have been pumping round her body. The type of statement, which has owed her the new nickname “Sunshine” for her consistently positive attitude – both on and off the tennis court.
What Caroline is seemingly mastering to perfection at an early age is called positive psychology and it’s a major science these days. What most people don’t know is that everybody can apply some of the basic techniques and get results almost instantly. Most people tend to focus on overcoming or improving on their weaknesses. In fact, for many years coaches and psychologists focused almost exclusively on “minimizing negativity”. The result was a focus on negative aspects of life. Positive psychology does the exact opposite. It focuses on “maximizing positivity”. That simple change of focus is fundamental and can produce stunning results.
I particularly like the “3 positive things” technique. It’s easy and simple to apply. Buy a small notebook (not the computer version) and start today. Write down 3 positive things (some people call them blessings) every day. It can be anything, big or small, private or business. You can write them down as you go along or you can recap at the end of the day. You’ll find that even the worst possible day will contain at least 3 positive things. Ask yourself why it (the positive thing) happened and what you did to make it happen. It’s called the positive explanatory style for the cause of good things and the goal is to make the positive things:
- Permanent (so they will keep happening to you)
- Global (so they will have good repercussions in all areas of your life)
- Internally generated (so you can take personal credit for them)
By forcing your mind to focus on positive things (even if the whole world is against you), you start shifting your entire outlook on life. I was able to detect the first results after about 1 week – I found that I started looking for positive things and noticing positive things. Experts say it takes about 3 weeks for most people to experience very clear, sustainable results. Three weeks! Think about it – and it will affect the rest of your life.
So what are you waiting for? Get started! You may not win a Grand Slam tournament, but it’s guaranteed to improve your happiness :)