Positive Psychology and You
eBook - ePub

Positive Psychology and You

A Self-Development Guide

Alan Carr

  1. 414 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (adapté aux mobiles)
  4. Disponible sur iOS et Android
eBook - ePub

Positive Psychology and You

A Self-Development Guide

Alan Carr

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À propos de ce livre

This broad and innovative self-development guide shows readers how they can use scientific findings from contemporary positive psychology to enhance their lives. Containing dozens of practical exercises and real-life examples, it helps bring positive psychology findings from the lab into day-to-day life.

Divided into six parts and covering a wide array of themes, this book is designed to help people with or without mental health problems enhance their well-being. It answers questions like: what is well-being? What are the main determinants of well-being, and how can we sustain it? There are also chapters on physical exercise, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness meditation, savouring pleasures, creative solution-finding and developing compassionate relationships.

This non-technical and highly accessible book will be of interest to those from all backgrounds with an interest in self-development, as well as mental health workers and related professionals.

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Informations

Éditeur
Routledge
Année
2019
ISBN
9781000556568
Part 1
Creating resilience
1 Positive psychology
Positive psychology is about well-being and human strengths. It is about the scientific study of these things. It is also about how to apply this scientific knowledge in clinical settings, schools, organisations and most importantly in our day-to-day lives to help us to thrive.1 This book will tell you how to apply important findings from positive psychology in your life to improve your well-being. In this first chapter, you will read about some of the most important ideas in positive psychology. You will read about:
‱ Well-being
‱ The effects of happiness on physical health and longevity
‱ The main causes of happiness
‱ How we adapt to positive and negative life events
‱ How most of us are poor at judging what will make us happy in future, and
‱ Positive psychology exercises that have been found to enhance well-being.
You will also have invitations to do exercises to assess your PERMA profile and the ratio of positive to negative emotions in your life. This chapter sets the agenda for the rest of the book, and lets you know about the practical skills you may learn by doing the exercises described in Chapters 2–18.
The idea that psychology can be used by all of us to improve our lives has a long history. In this book, we will be talking mainly about modern positive psychology which began around about the year 2000.2 Professor Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania in the USA is the founder of modern positive psychology.3 He was trained originally as a clinical psychologist. He became increasingly disenchanted with the emphasis of clinical psychology on disorders, disability and dysfunction. He reviewed a lot of research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy and medication in helping people overcome mental health problems. He found that they alleviated symptoms in about two out of three cases. However, in most successful cases clients did not feel fulfilled at the end of treatment. Many felt empty. They no longer had symptoms, but they lacked a sense of well-being. As for the one in three cases who did not benefit from psychotherapy and medication, traditional mental health interventions had little to offer these people.3 Seligman concluded that they required a different kind of intervention that would help them experience well-being rather than emptiness.
It was these considerations that inspired Martin Seligman to develop an approach that focused on what was right with people, rather than on what was wrong with them. He wanted to use the scientific methods of clinical psychology to find out about well-being, human strengths, personal resilience and resourcefulness. The idea was that positive psychology would complement rather than replace traditional clinical psychology. With support from a core group of colleagues, mainly in the USA, he established positive psychology as a rigorous scientific discipline. Since 2000 Martin Seligman has drawn together a network of academics in major universities from all over the world who conduct research in the new field of positive psychology.4 He has arranged philanthropic funding to support this research.5 Members of the international positive psychology network publish their scholarly work on this discipline in academic journals and books on positive psychology.6 Since the year 2000 the number of publications in the field of positive psychology has grown exponentially. Professionals are being trained in positive psychology in the growing number of master’s programmes in positive psychology that are being established at universities around the world.
The main thing that distinguishes modern positive psychology from ‘pop-psychology’ is the bedrock of rigorous science on which it is based. In this book, I will be letting you know about things you can do to improve your well-being. This advice is based on scientific evidence, which I will summarise throughout the book. I will also illustrate how positive psychology has been applied in day-to-day life with stories and case examples.
The PERMA theory of well-being
According to Martin Seligman’s theory, well-being is based on five main elements:
‱ Positive emotion
‱ Engagement
‱ Relationships
‱ Meaning
‱ Accomplishment.7
Let’s look at each element in a bit more detail.
Positive emotion
Our well-being depends on the extent to which we experience positive emotions like happiness, joy, excitement, contentment and so forth.
Engagement
Our well-being also depends on the degree to which we are involved in engaging, absorbing activities like sports or skilled work. The experience of being so absorbed in an activity that the sense of self and time is suspended is referred to as being in a state of flow. You will read more about flow in Chapter 7.
Relationships
Our involvement in supportive relationships with family members and friends also contributes to our well-being. Close relationships provide us with the experiences of attachment, support, being valued and being loved. You will read about enhancing relationships in Chapters 11, 12 and 13.
Meaning
The extent to which we have a purpose in life and a direction in which we are going also determines our well-being. This often involves pursuing highly valued goals or serving something bigger than ourselves like a sports club, community, charity, work organisation, political party or religion. These things give us the feeling that life is valuable and worth living. You will read more about highly valued goals in Chapter 2.
Accomplishment
Finally, well-being depends on us having positive accomplishments in our lives. These accomplishments may include completing daily tasks and responsibilities, reaching goals, achieving success and winning. They may be in the domains of work or leisure activities. These accomplishments may give us feelings of mastery and achievement.
This way of thinking about well-being is referred to as PERMA theory. There is a diagram of it in Figure 1.1. PERMA is an acronym based on the first letter of each of the five elements of the theory (Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment). In the pursuit of well-being, we may focus on one or more of these elements. Where we focus predominantly on one element, we can be said to be living a particular type of life. For example, if we primarily pursue positive emotion, we may be said to lead ‘the pleasant life’. If we mainly seek engagement or the flow state, then we may be said to lead ‘the engaged life’. Where we see relationships or serving something greater than ourselves as the most important thing, this leads to ‘the meaningful life’. We lead the ‘achieving life’ if we prioritise accomplishment.
PERMA theory was first presented in 2011. Before and since, within positive psychology, there have been many views on how best to conceptualise well-being. A useful distinction may be made between the hedonic and eudaimonic traditions.8 The hedonic approach defines happiness and the good life in terms of pleasure-seeking and pain-avoidance. The eudaimonic tradition, in contrast, defines happiness and the good life in terms of achieving one’s full potential. The hedonic tradition may be traced back to Aristippus and the eudaimonic tradition to Aristotle. Both were Greek philosophers in the fourth century bc. In the eudaimonic tradition it is acknowledged that while the pursuit of pleasure may sometimes lead to well-being, this is not always the case, and in some instances the pursuit of pleasure may prevent well-being. For example, overindulgence in alcohol, drugs and food may lead to addiction, cancer and heart disease. In contrast, the pursuit of virtue may sometimes lead to pleasure, but on other occasions may not. For example, acts of courage, such as saving a person from drowning, or working hard to achieve success at a job that benefits others, may lead to pain rather than pleasure. PERMA theory, to some degree, spans both of these traditions by acknowledging that well-being involves positive emotions and absorption in engaging activities, as advocated by the hedonic approach. However, well-being also involves engagement in meaningful relationships and accomplishing success which is consistent with the eudaimonic tradition. Increasingly positive psychology has become concerned with helping people achieve high levels of well-being. This is referred to as flourishing. Flourishing means living within the optimal range of human functioning.9 In terms of PERMA theory, it means experiencing high levels of well-being on most PERMA dimensions. So flourishing is not just feeling good. In fact, you could be feeling just OK in terms of positive emotions, but be flourishing because you are excelling by engaging in absorbing activities, relationships, living a meaningful life and achieving highly valued goals.
image
Figure 1.1 Martin Seligman’s PERMA theory of well-being.
Note: Adapted with permission of Martin Seligman from www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/learn. Copyright © 2009 by Martin Seligman.
PERMA profiler self-assessment exercise
To find out what your PERMA well-being profile is, you may wish to complete the PERMA well-being profiler at www.purposeplus.com/survey/perma-profiler. It takes about five minutes to fill out this questionnaire and there is no cost. The profiler contains three questions about each of the five PERMA dimensions, and other questions on overall well-being, loneliness, physical health and negative emotions. Alternatively, you may complete a short form of the PERMA profiler in Box 1.1. This short form just asks about the five dimensions of PERMA theory.
Box 1.1 PERMA pro...

Table des matiĂšres

  1. Cover Page
  2. Praise
  3. Half Title
  4. Title Page
  5. Copyright Page
  6. Table of Contents
  7. Foreword
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Part 1 Creating Resilience
  10. Part 2 Healthy Body and Mind
  11. Part 3 Enjoying Life
  12. Part 4 Constructive Thought and Action
  13. Part 5 Strengthening Relationships
  14. Part 6 Overcoming Challenges
  15. References and Notes
  16. Index