Positive Psychology and Embracing Positive Ageing
Today we are taking a look at Positive Psychology - the science of wellbeing and how we can individually and together be the best versions of ourselves.
What is it? how can we learn from it? how might it support embracing positive ageing?
'the more you strive and search for happiness, the more you overlook the possibility it is already here already’ Robert Holden
When I first started studying psychology in the mid 1980s there was a focus on what was wrong but there has been a growing movement towards positive psychology over many decades. This is now central to my transformational coaching and to enable us to focus on what we want more of in our life now and for the future.
Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi define positive psychology as "... the scientific study of positive human functioning and flourishing on multiple levels that include the biological, personal, relational, institutional, cultural, and global dimensions of life."
It is helpful to mention that there are two types of happiness:
Hedonic wellbeing (feeling good) which is the happiness of pleasure and enjoyment this type of happiness is short lived.
Eudaimonic wellbeing (functioning well) is the deeper more meaningful happiness which comes from living a life with a purpose and focus and using your strengths in the world.
Considered the founder is Martin Seligman who created an evidence based theory about why happy people are happy (the term itself was coined by Abraham Maslow) and I love his PERMA model of happiness which encompasses:
- Positive emotion - feeling good, optimism, pleasure and enjoyment
- Engagement - fulfiling work, hobbies and interests
- Relationships - social connections, love, intimacy and physical interaction
- Meaning - having a purpose and meaning in life
- Accomplishments - ambition, goals, achievements
This model can help us to gain a more positive outlook now and for the future, to develop and grow a greater sense of awareness, connection and wellbeing.
Let’s focus on a couple of aspects:
Positive Emotion - what makes your heart sing? hunt the good stuff. There is increasing evidence to show that if we are more optimistic and have a sense of purpose we can change our experience and embrace the future positively. Scientists at Harvard and Boston university recently concluded that by being optimistic you can extend your life by 14.9% on average. If we also adopt a growth mindset (Prof Carol Dweck) and we can learn to think more optimistically at any age and create greater positivity.
Strengths awareness - where we focus on our character strengths and behaviours to empower us to build a life of meaning and focus. I remember my own education and then becoming a teacher where a focus is often on fixing your weaknesses.
"Use your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are." ~ Martin Seligman
Ultimately we all have to practice to strengthen our wellbeing how wonderful that is so the repetition forms the neural connections to make a habit out of happiness!