At the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference, Dr. Gloria Horsley spoke with Dr. Judith Stillion about how to balance a positive life while in grief. It’s all about consciously choosing positive acts for yourself every day, with Dr. Stillion suggesting art or reading as a positive approach to healing. However, it may take some trial and error to find the positive approach that works best for you. Re-tapping into old, favorite hobbies as well as trying new ones can be a way to challenge yourself and re-direct your energy and thoughts into a more positive realm.
“Positive psychology is a way to approach grieving people to give them real tools to work with,” says Dr. Stillion. She runs widows groups and has been using exercises based in positive psychology. “Living the full life” requires the balancing of three critical things each day, starting with “the pleasant life.” This means doing enough for yourself while in grief, and feeding yourself (body and spirit) is important.
A Balanced Life
There are many ways to chase pleasant, from taking a swim to cooking a healthy meal. You also need to have a “happy, engaged life” that takes you outside of yourself. This is going with the flow, and may include getting lost in a book or getting into work-related tasks.
Finally, “the level of meaning” needs to be nurtured. It’s how we all make sense of the world and of meaning. This lets you move beyond yourself and helps you make sense of what’s happening around you. Having all three of these aspects is a must for taking mini-vacations from grieving. Positive psychology is rich with exercises, and you don’t necessarily need to be in a grieving group in order to research these measures and benefit from them.