Positive Actions Cards
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Build your well-being skills and develop your psychological potential using evidence-based validated positive psychology interventions.
Organised into seven categories around the acronym of ACTIONS (Active, Calming, Thinking, Identity, Optimising, Nourishing and Social interventions), these attractive and informative cards provide detailed suggestions of how to build new positive habits in your life. An essential resource for any positive psychology practitioner, these cards can be utilised in any coaching or training setting, in one-to-one or group work, even for personal application.
Over the past few years, the notion of a “positive psychology intervention” (or PPI) has risen to prominence, as it was discovered that certain intentional actions can be effective in increasing and sustaining happiness and other positive states, as well as in reducing depression and anxiety. A good definition of what constitutes a positive intervention is “treatment methods or intentional activities aimed at cultivating positive feelings, positive behaviours, or positive cognitions” (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009, p. 467).
How do we know what works and what doesn’t? What is effective, and what is less so? Here is where the science comes helpful! Positive interventions come tested through Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT). RCTs involve the random allocation of participants to two or more groups and comparing the proposed intervention with another exercise intended as a placebo. All of the actions in the set have been tested through RCTs AND have appeared in one or more meta-analyses. Considered the gold standard of applied research, a meta-analysis evaluates the overall impact of a group of interventions on our functioning.
The 64 intervention cards are organised into seven categories, which add up to the ACTIONS acronym. (1) A stands for Active interventions; concerned with sport and physical activity. (2) C stands for Calming interventions; concerned with mindfulness and meditation. (3) T is for Thinking or taking stock; working through and integrating past events, whether negative or positive, into our present situation. (4) I is for Identity related actions; concerned with personal strengths and one’s representation of oneself. (5) O is for Optimisation; actions that enable you to set goals, look to the future, and to potentially improve the current situation. (6) N is for Nourishing; actions concerned with self-soothing, taking pleasure and care of yourself. (7) Finally, S is for Social actions; to do with establishing and maintaining positive relationships.
Although any individual could make use of this tool to enhance their own well-being, Positive ACTIONS are a treasure box for any coaching or training professional. Too many positive psychology interventions rely mainly on cognitive processes leaving client/s with very few ways to really explore well-being. This may also result in challenging group dynamics, where the take-aways of a session are abstract and difficult to remember. Positive ACTIONS allow you to introduce, test and vary your interventions, resulting in higher engagement and probability of continued use.
“The Positive Actions cards captures the excellence of evidence-based positive psychology interventions to offer an innovative platform for practitioners to showcase their distinctiveness and craft towards engendering Positive Action with and for their clients. A remarkable tool set that raises the bar for positive psychology coaching practice.” Dr Aneta Tunariu – Head of School- School of Psychology University of East London.
Here are some ideas to get you started. These activities are written with the end-user in mind, so if you are a coach, trainer or a therapist, please note that by “you” we could also mean “your client”.
Alone or with a friend or a coach/helper, look through the set of cards and identify actions that you are using at the moment or have tried in the past. How did/do they make you feel? Have you noticed any changes in yourself as a result of their implementation? If so, what were they? Would you like to continue or re-start using any of these actions? If so, which ones, why and how?
What is your best fit?
Look through the cards, select the action that feels the most natural to you, another (or the same) that feels the most interesting, and another (or the same) that feels the most important. How many cards have you got? One, two or three? This action, or actions, are probably the best fit for your personality. On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to try this action/these actions out?
Baby steps to happiness
Even though many of us dream of making radical changes to our lives, these are often doomed to failure. It is far more reliable to start with very small changes. Select one new action from the pack and plan how you could realistically start implementing it. Don’t worry if you are unable to follow the instructions or timings precisely. Instead, think of what you are able to do, and of the very first baby step you can take towards integrating a new habit into your life.
Well-being at work
Use these cards during any training, coaching or team-building session. First, ask each member of the group to share their habitual ways of taking care of their well-being, before working together to develop a team-level ACTIONS plan.