Have you ever experienced a moment’s happiness and immediately followed by a couple of days’ sadness? Actually, this is not too bad. The worst case is such things appear in a repeated cycle. It definitely brings us emotional discomfort and even stress.
I am the one who always experiences such cycle in recent years. Partly because of my family issues, partly because of my work issues. These bring me lots of emotional and physical burnt outs. I really do not want it to happen again and again!
Recently I took a course that taught about Positive Psychology. I was amazed by her insights on how to get a long-lasting happy life. I wish to share them with anyone who is also suffering a rough time in life in this little blogging place.
What is Positive Psychology?
Below are some ideas of Positive Psychology:
- It began in 1998 and is a new domain in psychology
- It is an evidence-based discipline
- All findings have been scientifically tested and proved
Christopher Peterson, in this book “What is Positive Psychology, and what is not?” stated that Positive Psychology is a “scientific study of what makes life most worth living”.
Founders of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, have a new and subversive definition on psychology:
Freudian or traditional school of psychology emphasizes that all our problems come from our PAST experiences. They tend more to apply intervention and therapy on patients. On the contrary, Positive Psychologists promote concepts of LIVING NOW. They put more effort into making preventions instead of fixing problems.
How to get a long-lasting happy life?
Positive psychologists said the only way to get a long-lasting happy life is to experience a FULL Life. I will talk about it later in this blog.
The Rainbow metaphor
Imagine it is a day after heavy rain and you are so lucky to see a rainbow in the sky.
How many colors do you see in a rainbow? Is your answer 7? You are right and wrong!
We can see the visible parts of a rainbow. They are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. But there are many other parts that are invisible to human eyes, for example, infrared (immediately below red), and ultraviolet (immediately beyond violet)
Again, imagine the above colors are potentials of a rainbow. We know that a rainbow has a very short life, right? When it appears in the sky, it tries hard to make good use of its color potentials to display a glorious but short period of life. This sounds pretty like to our life journey.
What is a full life?
The 5 Levels Hierarchy of Needs model proposed by Abraham Maslow may give us some insights on how to get a full life.
According to the model, one’s psychological development reaches its highest level by reaching the highest level of needs, self-actualization. Self-actualization refers to “a desire to become everything one is capable of becoming” (Maslow, 1987). It is a process of realization of our:
- personal potentials
- seeking personal growth
- peak experiences.
How to “self-actualize” our life?
As reported by positive psychologists, we can do it by getting “3 FULLs”: make FULLY use of FULL potentials to live in a FULL life. In this regards, “FULL” means “having no empty space, not lacking or omitting anything and complete”.
Does it make sense if we apply the rainbow concept to our life? We all have different potentials. Some are known and some are unknown to us. We are all longing for a glorious life like a rainbow does and we try hard to do it when we are alive.
Concepts of Character Strengths
It is always a difficult question to ask what kind of potentials we have. In the course of Positive Psychology, I noticed that the “24 Character Strengths” announced by the VIA Institute on Character can give us a clear and concrete guidance.
The “24 Character Strengths” is scientifically tested. It classified our core characteristics into 24 groups (see the table above). There are some sub-groups under each group. It is a tremendous reference to understand our core characteristics to live our potentials. You can even find out your own character strengths by doing their survey. The survey is free, you can do it by clicking this link: https://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey
According to positive psychologists, the only way that can bring us long time happiness is to live for a full life. And the only way to live for a full life is to figure out and make good use of the potentials within us. To live with no regret, we better take action NOW!