Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wellbeing - what does it mean?

It can mean different things to different people, but through my research into the more recent arm of psychology (emerged over the past 10 years), positive psychology, wellbeing is about authentic happiness.

Dr Martin Seligman is the founder of positive psychology, he is also a self professed pessimist, but through his scientific research into this area he has discovered that even pessimist can experience positive emotion on a daily basis using, what can be, very simple interventions.

Positive psychology is the study of 3 components:
  1. positive emotion - confidence, hope, trust etc

  2. positive traits - our strengths and virtues including our 'abilities' such as athleticism

  3. positive institutions - this includes democracy, strong families, etc

It is easy to imagine these 3 areas being there for us when life is going well but the reality is, life is about ups and downs. None of us are immune to life not turning out the way we planned and when we are hit from time to time with adversity (stress of losing a job, stress in a job, loss of a loved one, loss of purpose). Or it can be the suffering we endure because of story that keeps playing in our minds - created purely from our beliefs and past experiences.

We are complex creatures. Life can be hard. But you know what, we have the ability to change the course. Through positive psychology interventions we have the tools that can enable us to live a great life - an authentically happy one with hope, purpose and meaning.

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