Twenty years ago when I struggled with depression, I had no idea about the tools I needed to stay mentally happy until my psychologist introduced me to them. Then I thought, “Why am I only hearing about this now?” We don’t wait until people have heart attacks to teach them about healthy eating habits or regular exercise so why are we not teaching people how to stay mentally healthy before they encounter difficulties in life? Life is hard and wonderful at the same time. Let’s empower people with the knowledge they need to not only stay in the game but also up their game! And that is exactly what positive psychology is all about.
Positive Psychology is the scientific study of psychological well-being and human flourishing. These videos will give you a good understanding of what positive psychology is all about and some of the history of the positive psychology movement.
In positive psychology we study what keeps people mentally healthy and happy. As part of that study there are many topics we cover – some intuitive – some not so intuitive. For example, do you know that how you approach decisions every day can have a significant impact on your daily well-being? Do you know that how you respond to your loved ones’ good news can have a greater impact on your relationship than how you respond to bad news? Did you know that exercise can have a greater positive impact on depressive feelings than anti-depression drugs for some people? I could go on and on with another 200 topics we cover – all that have an impact on our mental well-being. So what are the major sources of well-being? Dr. Martin Seligman describes five major sources of well-being, in his book Flourish. These are Positivity, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement (PERMA). As practitioners we take Dr. Seligman’s PERMA model and add one more: Health (physical health) to the equation.
Scientists have discovered that in order to be healthy and happy we need to experience many more positive emotions in a day than negative emotions. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson is the leading expert in the study of positive emotions.
We are happier when we are highly engaged in life and at work. Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a pioneer in the field of studying optimal engagement.
Nothing is more important to our well-being than nurturing positive relationships in our lives. ALL relationships. Here are some of the leading researchers in this area.
Another important source of well-being is our desire to live a meaningful life and to have a purpose in life. No one has done more research than Dr. Victor Frankl in his illuminating book Man’s Search for Meaning; more recently, Emily Esfani Smith talks about creating more meaning in our lives with this recent TED Talk.
As human beings, we have a strong personal need to be productive, to feel we are achieving good things and striving to gain mastery in certain domains of our lives. Most researchers in this area study what makes us great achievers, how we can maintain a high level of productivity and focus, how can we can motivate people to do their best work and the ingredients for positive leadership. Some of the greatest minds in this area study and work at The Center for Positive Organizations, based at the Ross School of Business. The Center has been the hub of research on Positive Organizational Scholarship since 2002 and brings research to students and leaders through articles, books, events, tools, teaching, and organizational partnerships. It takes courage and confidence to play a bigger game in this world and to achieve great things. I describe a science-backed formula for a more action-oriented confidence that equips people with the courage to act in my book "Wire Your Brain for Confidence."
Over the years positive psychology researchers have discovered the mind/body connection. In fact, I always say there is no mind body connection, the mind is the body and body is the mind. What we eat, how often we move our bodies, how we hold our bodies and sleep all have a significant impact on our well-being. Dr. Kate Hefferon, reader of psychology at the University of East London, specializes in the somatic side of well-being: how our physical selves and perception of our physical selves affect our thinking and influence our well-being and confidence. Her book "Positive Psychology and the Body" is a great start.