Positive Psychology & Golf

If you haven’t read “Flourish” by Martin Seligman I highly suggest you do so.  He is a professor at UPENN and a guru of happiness.  His book “Flourish” is all about how we can implement Positive Psychology into our lives and society in order to increase the well-being of the world’s population.  It is really amazing stuff in general, but a lot of what he is talking about can be applied to golf and increasing your level of play as well as your level of enjoyment of the game.

There is one quote in general that I want to touch on.  Seligman writes the following (I am paraphrasing this quote) It is the belief in adversity, not the adversity itself that creates the feelings we have towards that adversity.  I want you to take a second and read that last sentence again.  Think about that and how it applies to your golf game.  How many times have you stepped into a shot and thought about all the negatives and pitfalls that surround that shot instead of imagining success?  I think back on my rounds and I constantly find myself thinking about what will happen to my score if I miss my next putt instead of envisioning the putt going in.

The adversity of having to make a shot or putt out on the golf course never changes.  The shot is what it is.  We putt extra pressure on ourselves by letting emotions like fear over take our mental thought process.  It is incredibly hard to “let go” and just play, but it can be a game changing exercise for a lot of players.  Imagine what you would feel like if you stepped over every shot and pulled out positive thoughts and emotions of past shots that are similar and pulled all of that positive energy into your next shot instead of worrying about what could go wrong.  Think that would help your game or make you enjoy playing more?  I do.

Another prime example of this is how many people say they shoot their best rounds when they don’t keep score.  I know a few golfers who have shot their lowest score after they didn’t keep score.  It allows you to just play the game by hitting shots and reacting.  If you allow your feelings and beliefs surrounding the adversity consume the situation then you are pretty much admitting defeat.  Take the opportunity to see the situation for what it is and don’t allow your fear of messing up interfere.  Think about times you have hit good shots and succeeded on the course and be confident that you can do whatever it is you need to do on the course.  If you are able to use positive emotions on the golf course you will be shocked by how much more you enjoy the game.

Give it a shot!


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