Using Positive Psychology & Personal Development To Get Out Of My Rut


Okay, confession time: I think the beginning of 2017 brought me a quarter-life crisis, albeit a mild one in the grand scheme of things. I’m not sure exactly what happened: solidifying my mid-twenties era realizing soon I’d be sliding to the late twenties or feeling stuck in a monotonous cycle of work/grad school. Largely, I’ve attributed it to the fact that I’m not at where my 16-year-old self (who like Jon Snow knew NOTHING) thought I would be. And frankly, I am so thankful that I’m not at where I thought I would be.

Anyways, 2017 decides to roll around and I feel as though I am stuck in a bit of a rut. In Fall of 2015, I took a Positive Psychology course and my professor had us do different exercises weekly to show how we had the power to change our mindset. I defined my perfect day, practiced gratitude, meditated, exercised, did breathing exercises, and tried about 50 other things. Some of it stayed with me while other habits fell off. I hit my quarter life crisis, wallowed in it for a little bit (ok, maybe a month or two), and then I started to think back to my positive psychology toolkit.

In this aspect, I’m lucky as I have a background in psychology, work for a mental health provider, and have personal knowledge of activities that work for me. Finally fed up of complaining, I started to take action. In my experience, people think of personal development as a dirty term – something that is beneath them or people spouting pseudoscience. The books that I have read that usually live in the self-help section have changed my life and perspective. To get myself back on track this time, I used the 8 Domains of Wellness (Emotional, Social, Financial, Intellectual, Spiritual, Environmental, Occupational, Physical) to set up a few writing prompts about my current situation, my goal situation, my dream situation, and what I can do to support such goals. I also purchased Gabby Bernstein’s “The Universe Has Your Back,” which I’ve been meaning to read forever! It’s funny how writing a few sentences and reading brings me balance.

In your own rut, and ready to try to find your way out? Here are some resources I found helpful:

Learn more about 8 domains of wellness
Gabrielle Bernstein has a number of great books
Shonda Rhimes, “Year of Yes”
Kelly Cutrone: “If You Have To Cry, Go Outside”
Martin Seligman, “Learned Optimism”
Cheryl Strayed, “Brave Enough”
James Altucher, “Choose Yourself”
Meera Lee Patel, “Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration”

There are so many resources out there! Go, explore. Let’s stop only focusing on career development and start incorporating some personal development into our routines. And if that’s too much for you to handle right now, just keep going.

Kyle Kennedy is a Project & Data Manager for a nonprofit that provides mental health services. She lives in the Boston area & loves to explore the city. Kyle is a health & wellness enthusiast, runner, and firm believer in retail therapy.