You might have heard about ‘the science of happiness’ or seen books with a big yellow smiley face on the whole cover. I’m not a fan of that yellow smiley so much, because it seems to reduce this important psychology to something simplistic (just smile a lot and you’ll be happy as a clam, just be positive! yea, right.)
While not an inherently difficult concept to grasp, what I am talking about is difficult to do. Understanding how to switch from life-long learned and established thinking habits into their flip side, completely and for always, poses quite a challenge.
As I learn about this positivity discipline – it’s only been around as a field of study in psychology for 20-odd years – I am slowly realizing that Positive Psychology is what I unknowingly applied in my life during my final period of depression back in 2010. My book, A Joyful Life, tells the story of what and how I did it and includes my tools and techniques. I thought it was pure magic how I was able to revolutionize my world from overwhelming chaos and dullness to a superbly joyful life through applying a number of positivity-based techniques. Methods that I sought out by intuition and following law-of-attraction principles. And spiritual guidance, for sure. Becasue I couldn’t have done all that alone. I sure could have used a coach in this stuff!!
Now, I am learning about university degrees that teach graduate students how to apply this growing discipline in their professions, as teachers, doctors, therapists, managers, occupational therapists, learning consultants, or nurses. And what they learn is based on hard evidence. There are online courses (Coursera) on how to apply the discipline in your own life (some are free). On TedTalks, you can hear a lecture by Dr. Martin Seligman, considered the father of the discipline and founder of Penn State’s Positive Psychology Department, the first university in the world to do empirical research on the phenomena, on what happy people have that the rest don’t, and how to get it. Universities across the world are now offering graduate degrees, in Britain, Europe, Australia, South Africa, South America, USA, and Canada – it’s facinating stuff.
When I learned of Seligman’s PERMA model, depicting the 5 things we all need in our life to “flourish”, (which adds some depth to the happiness word) I understood how I came to experience my life of joy, to which I alluded in my last blog entry on Post-Traumatic Growth. But PERMA explains why and how:
P – ositive emotions (gratitude journaling, 3 good things daily exercise)
E – ngagement (involving yourself in something that makes time stand still – flow)
R – elationships (healthy relationships are necessary for human connection)
M – eaning (and purpose, in something bigger than yourself)
A – ccomplishments (for personal satisfaction, achieving stretch goals)
I am smitten, alright! So why don’t I switch my Masters? I’m thinking about it, but I have found that most of the programs are designed for either of two groups: those already in a helping profession or those who want to become positivity coaches.
While I see myself becoming a positivity life coach, I am after a solid foundation for supporting and guiding individuals through their life struggles. I want to know how to properly assess a person’s condition or issues, and understand when to refer them to a better-qualified helper. I want to be held to the highest ethical standards and be accountable to a professional organization. I want to have a high sense of accomplishment when I graduate. I want to become an excellent helper first, all the while teaching clients how they can truly flourish. I’d like to make a difference in people’s lives.
Thanks for the chat! I needed that 🙂
P.S. Some links to whet your appetites:
- Dr. Martin Seligman
- Penn State U. – the first Positive Psychology Department
- Positive Psychology Canada – includes a bi-annual conference
- Independent US program with loads of free resources