​​Positive psychology was first introduced by an American Clinical Psychologist, Dr Martin Seligman in 1998. The main purpose of positive psychology is to promote the idea of discovering and developing resilience within every individual. People can use such resilience not only to properly manage the challenging periods in their lives, but to thrive amidst these challenges.

Positive thinking is the integral part of positive psychology. According to Dr. Seligman, most of us tend to think of the worse scenario almost immediately when something negative happens in our lives. This is the “ABC” thought pattern of a person affected by negative circumstances:
A - Adversity - You believe you have no ability to change the adverse situation that you are in
B - Belief - You eventually believe that you are “powerless”
C - Consequence - You think that no matter what you do and how hard you try, you will still get a negative result.
To counteract such debilitating thoughts, add two more steps once you are aware of the above negative thought pattern.
D - Disputation - Begin to challenge the distorted thoughts and start to look for a solution.
E - Energising - Empower yourself by reviewing how you are able to solve the problem.

Positive thinking celebrates these acts of resilience, no matter how small. It takes time and conscious effort to overcome automatic negative thoughts. If necessary, individuals may seek professional help from clinical psychologists or therapists to cultivate the beneficial habit of positive thinking into a life changing experience.

​​Mindfulness has its roots in Zen Buddhism and shares similar traditions with Roman Catholicism. However, in the context of Western medical practices, mindfulness is often presented without any religious connotation. In the 1970s, Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn started to incorporate the approach into Western medical practices, for instance Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which was targeted to help clients handle stress, pain, and chronic illness. Mindfulness is now widely integrated into many therapeutic approaches such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Being mindful allows us to notice these, and subsequently give us the choice to switch to a “being” mode – we may notice thoughts as thoughts, accept emotions whether they are comfortable or uncomfortable, and gain an awareness that we can choose an action that is perhaps more in line with our values.

The following script will​ guide you in practicing mindfulness of your breath, and serves as a good introduction to the skill. Do consult a specialist if you experience any discomfort or distress:​

  1. Find a place where you will not be disturbed.
  2. Prepare yourself by sitting upright on a chair, adopting a dignified upright posture. Uncross your legs and place your feet flat on the ground. Relax your shoulders and place your hands on your thighs.
  3. Close your eyes, or focus on a spot in the distance. Gently, turn your attention to your breath, starting with your nose. Observe the sensations of air fl owing through your nose. Breathe normally.
  4. You may find your mind distracting you, bringing you away from your focus on your breath. That happens. When you are aware that your mind has brought you away, notice where your mind brought you. Gently thank your mind, and then choose to gradually shift your attention back to your breath. As often as your mind distracts you, allow yourself to gently return to the focus on your breath.
  5. After several breaths, shift your attention to your shoulders. Notice how your shoulder rise and fall with each breath. Breathe normally.
  6. After some time, move your focus to your lungs. Observing how your lungs expand and contract with each breath. Breathe normally.
  7. Next, shift your awareness to your stomach. Noticing that your stomach expands when you breathe in and it deflates as your breath out. Focus on the sensations of your stomach expanding and contracting. Breathe normally.
  8. Bringing the practice to a close, slowly and gently open your eyes if they were closed, and look around and notice everything around you. Stand up slowly and give yourself a good stretch.

​​Motivational Interviewing (MI) is both a treatment philosophy and a set of techniques which focus on the potential benefits of change. MI draws on the individual’s own motivation and commitment by examining their current behaviour, how it fits with their value system and how it affects the people around them. It is collaborative and respects an individual’s choices, even if the individual chooses not to change.

The main goal is to move the individual’s conversation from sustain talk to change talk. For example, we want to move the conversation from “I don’t have a problem and I am fine where I am at the moment” (sustain talk) to “I think I should change” or “I don’t think I can carry on this way anymore” (change talk).

MI was originally developed to treat problem drinkers. Through clinical experience and research, MI has been found to be effective in various settings ranging from education to career coaching.

In short, MI is all about relationship building, good listening skills and demonstrating empathy. It is also about offering suggestions or alternative perspectives. Its collaborative and inclusive approach helps to resolve conflicts or misunderstandings.

Motivational Interviewing: Agent for Change