WHAT IS POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY
Before I answer specifically here are two stories to demonstrate positive psychology ‘in action’.
My teenage life was turbulent. I was frequently and fiercely at odds with my mother, (You can the read the story behind this in my book, Stitch Your own Silver Linings). We would later reconcile but at the age of 17 I was still living at home and was miserable most of the time.
Even at 17 I was hugely interested in human potential and personal development. I wanted answers to why people behaved in certain ways; to why I behaved in certain ways. So, when it was suggested to me that I go to see a psychotherapist – I was not against the idea.
One night, in the middle of the night, I woke up sweating and screaming but couldn’t remember having had a nightmare. Once awake I could hear noises that I couldn’t explain. Too scared to go back to sleep, I would lie suffering until the morning.
This became a pattern. Every single night for quite some time, I woke up screaming and shaking, unable to go back to sleep. I thought I was going mad. Eventually, I went to see the doctor who suggested I go to see Richard – the Psychotherapist.
Richard was a young, trendy, no nonsense kind of guy and I took to him straight away. I only saw him about three or four times but I looked forward to the sessions enormously. Our visits concluded when it was determined that there were birds in the chimney breast which ran down through my bedroom, and the noises would eventually stop – which they did.
And, he told me TO LEAVE HOME!
Richard told me, ‘It’s your choice. You will not be at peace until you leave the family home and take control of your own life.
And, if I am honest – once I heard him say it, I knew he was right.
Years later, long after I had left home – during a full and frank conversation between us, I told my mother what Richard had said.. Her response was to tell me a story of her own.
Most of her married life, mum suffered from violent migraines; the kind where she would have to lay down in a darkened room until the pain subsided. As a child, I remember she would often be in her room for hours before the pain eased. Finally, when she felt she might go ‘insane’, she went to see the doctor, who knew the family well. . He didn’t offer medication or suggest she see a therapist…
Instead, he told her she needed to SHOOT HER HUSBAND!
She did not shoot her husband but she did eventually leave him. My mother never had a migraine again.
The moral to these stories? Very often you don’t need to be ‘fixed’ – YOU HAVE THE POWER. You have the power within you to change your life and you have much more control than you think! THAT’s why I was drawn to and am now so passionate about teaching and working with the science of Positive psychology.’
TO THE THEORY
Psychology as usual – the understanding, and treatment of mental illness. In effect it is about ‘fixing’ what’s wrong.
And it has been very successful – we are now able to measure and treat such kinds of previously abstract concepts such as anger, depression, schizophrenia and many others.
You may hear positive psychology described as, The science of happiness or The science of what makes life worth living. I like both of those descriptions. However, the formal definition, according to one of its founding father’s, is the following:
Positive psychology is The scientific study of optimal human functioning. It aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive. (Seligman, 2002)
This diagram explains.
A person badly struggling with a clinical illness, lets put them at minus 4, can be treated by traditional psychology and helped back to 0 at neutral where there is no illness.
But what happens then? Being free from illness does not make a person well. In addition, what happens to those of us who have problems but not necessarily clinical problems/illness? We are left at neutral with a possible risk of slipping downwards to -1 and even further down that negative route to struggling. Positive psychology takes you from neutral at 0 to +1 – + 5 which is flourishing and where we all want to be.
Back to our stories –
My mother and I felt impotent in our respective situations. I felt ‘under my mother’s control and she felt under my father’s.
We were intelligent and capable women and yet for one reason or another, practical or emotional we each felt trapped. We were not on the clinical spectrum of mental illness but we were not flourishing either.
Building on what is right
By Increasing self-awareness and understanding, discovering and building our individual strengths and harnessing support from those around us – we were both able to resolve our situations. Equally, as important, experiencing the process of doing that, built resilience in my mother and in me and contributed to our personal growth.
THIS WAS POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY IN ACTION because it looks at what is going right (self-awareness, strengths, support, resilience) and builds on that, utilizing those things to help move forward to flourishing.
HOW CAN POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY HELP YOU
Thanks to scientific research we now know more than ever about happiness – about what makes us happy and what doesn’t. By introducing scientifically proven to work interventions and strategies, positive psychology can help you – to increase your self awareness, to discover your strengths and how to utilize them, to build your resilience and go on to achieve success in your life – what ever that means to you.
As a Positive psychology practitioner, I believe you have your own answers.
You have control and you have the power within to achieve your goals and live a flourishing life.
By using the scientific research and evidence based strategies that are proven to work I help my clients to go from neutral at 0 to flourishing at +4
***If you are ready to live a flourishing life– FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HOW TO WORK WITH ME
***To watch the Happy stuff and fluff video, POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY VS TRADITIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
Look forward to your comments.