Mindfulness and the enhancement of positivity

By now, it’s safe to say that almost every health care professional has heard of the term “mindfulness”. It has become an increasingly popular way to improve well-being. Mindfulness can be described as a form of awareness that arises from attending to the present moment in a non-judgemental and accepting manner. Somehow there seems to be a gap in the current mindfulness literature as it mainly focuses on negative variables (such as stress, anxiety and depression), while it neglects the potential role of mindfulness in the enhancement of positive ones (such as happiness and meaning). This is where Positive Psychology comes into play, which enhances the positive aspects in a person’s life.

In the context of positive psychology interventions (PPIs), it is important to know that experiencing positive emotions or events during PPIs does not automatically mean that an individual can fully savour them. As mindfulness is known to boost savouring, it therefore enhances the benefits of PPI practice. Building on this, Ivtan and colleagues (2016) propose a positive mindfulness cycle where PPIs and mindfulness enhance each other in a process leading to improvements in individual well-being. To find out whether this enhancement actually improves (individual) well-being, they conducted a randomised controlled study. They tested an 8-week online intervention-based Positive Mindfulness Program (PMP) that integrated mindfulness with a series of positive psychology variables . In comparison to pre-intervention data, the collected post-intervention data and 1 month follow-up data showed a significant improvement in all well-being variables (including gratitude, self-compassion, self-efficacy, meaning and autonomy). These positive results suggest that combining mindfulness with positive psychology interventions is effective in improving the wellbeing of non-clinical populations.

Ivtzan, I., Young, T., Martman, J. et al. Integrating Mindfulness into Positive Psychology: a Randomised Controlled Trial of an Online Positive Mindfulness Program. Mindfulness 7, 1396–1407 (2016). https://doi-org.mu.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0581-1

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