In Positive Psychology, resilience, flow, optimism, gratitude, mindfulness and grit, are some of the important tenants of Positive Psychology, that if practiced regularly lead to greater well-being, happiness and success.

So, it struck me as I was reading about the concept of resisting happiness in Matthew Kelly’s recently published book called, “Resisting Happiness.” This is the realization that people do things in their everyday lives to resist being happy…you regularly resist doing what is good for you and what will therefore make you happy.

As a Positive Psychologist Life Coach, I see this in many clients who come to coaching. Many people find it difficult to accomplish a specific goal that they have set out to do, mostly as a result of resistance.

Kelly states that we encounter this resistance war every day, multiple times a day. In this war, the two opposing sides are one, doing the thing that is good for you versus the other, doing the thing that is not good for you. For example, choosing to write this article is good for me versus trolling Facebook, which is a distraction for me that would prevent me from doing the thing that I wanted to do.

Kelly states that resistance “masks itself as laziness, procrastination, fear, doubt, instant gratification, self-loathing, indecision, escapism, pride, self-deception, friction, tension, self-sabotage” and that recognizing and identifying when one of these actions/feelings is happening is the first step to overcoming it.

I recently encountered this with my high school aged son, who was procrastinating working on a History paper. Instead or writing the paper, he found himself busying himself with Snap Chat, FaceTime, and Instagram. This procrastination led him to a self-sabatoge—as each day passed by not writing the history paper, his grade declined.

This grade decline led him to a path of feeling disappointment, self-loathing and unhappiness. When he learned about and identified the resistance that he was facing, he was able to redirect himself to do the thing that was good for him, his paper. Completing his History paper made him feel accomplished, powerful, accountable and happier.

Kelly’s formula for winning the resistance war it to:

Recognize and identify the resistance + choose to do the thing that is good for you 

= Overcome the Resistance

Looking at resistance under the Positive Psychology lens—being mindful of our actions and focused on our intentions—we can retrain our brains to catch this resistance before it strikes. Similar to how we can retrain our brains to remove negative thinking, we can retrain our brains to remove resistance from our everyday life.

 


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