This past year I had a wonderful opportunity to take a certification course in Positive Psychology in New York (2 days of course work in NY each month and 3 hours each week on line) and it was a deep dive into the research and study of Positive Psychology, an area of Psychology I can’t get enough of! I will state at the outset of this blog, that you have been reading for years about the principles of Positive Psychology and powerful insights that make this study so interesting. Chet not only reads and studies the subject, he writes about it frequently right here.
What is Positive Psychology?
“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.”
Martin Seligman 2002
Martin Seligman is recognized as the founder of Positive Psychology. You may recognize his work as the author of “Learned Optimism”, “Authentic Happiness”, and most recently “Flourishing”, all of it truly ground breaking work and widely quoted in our BTL Playbooks, the 12 Essentials and the 8 Essentials, as well as quoted in Chet’s writing. Martin Seligman also started the first Masters program at Penn University in Positive Psychology and is widely recognized as one of the best programs in the world. I feel fortunate to have been a part of The Flourishing Center in NY, which was started by, Emiliya Zhivotovskay, and mentored by Dr. Seligman in the masters program at Penn.
Traditional psychology was based on a disease model of fixing what was wrong with people. From this perspective the best you could hope for is “neutral” or not being sick. Positive Psychology is about what’s right with you, not just fixing what’s wrong. To quote another founder of Positive Psychology, Dr. Christopher Peterson, “Positive Psychology is about helping people move North of Neutral.”
As Positive Psychology evolved over the past 15 years and new studies and research came to light, Dr. Seligman introduced a new theory of what makes a good life for individuals, for communities and for nations.
Dr. Seligman introduced the Theory PERMA, the 5 Elements of Well Being, let’s take a look, I’m sure you wil recognize some of the subject matter under each of the 5 Elements:
- Mindset, Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
- Gratitude, Degree of satisfaction about the past (Gratitude and Forgiveness)
- Optimism about the future, optimism and hope, explanatory style, the 3 P’s
- Savoring, Being in the moment
- Concentrated effort
- Deploying your highest strengths and talents to meet the world in flow
- Other people
- Transformational vs. Transactional relationships
- The pursuit of relationships is a bedrock bottom fundamental to human Well Being
- Serving a higher purpose
- Something you believe is higher than yourself
- A life dedicated to mastery
- You’re absorbed in what you do and you feel Positive Emotion when pursuing the activity.
- Peak Performance
After six months of study and course work in Positive Psychology I know two things for sure:
- I could study this field for the next 25 years and still understand I am a long way from mastery of the subject. I love it and I will continue my reading and study.
- I truly believe that any individual who was committed to a life of well being, a good life, could find many of the answers in our Playbook, The 12 Essentials of Personal Excellence and specifically the First Essential, Build Your CORE and most importantly, authoring your OPUS!