All of the topics we discussed share the same goal: to find out what impacts our happiness, how to increase our happiness while preventing/working with mental illness. The Keyes’ model of flourishing differs from the other topics because it surveys how mental health and mental illness can affect whether or not we are living life to the fullest (flourishing), bobbing along (experiencing flow) or experiencing little/no happiness (languishing). Lyubomirsky’s model shows how genetics only affects 50% of our happiness and rest is impacted by our intentions and life circumstances. Lyubomirsky’s model is different because it adds the piece about what we can do to aid in the pursuit of our happiness, which is very subjective. Depression, anxiety and mood states can be taken into account when looking at both models. They can serve as perfect examples of how genetics plays a role in how our body responds to them and how each individual reacts or deals with having these illnesses and how their happiness is affected as a result. Positive psychology relates to these topics because it moves past “person is burdened by illness, therefore give them treatment” and instead focuses on how to identify the strengths of the individual, then use those strengths to help the person thrive, regardless of any preexisting conditions. The next step is to use those strengths in everyday life to maximize happiness in the short term and the long term to ultimately create a meaningful life.
On the scale of “not surprised” to “WHOA!”, I would say very close to not surprised by any of these topics. All I could think was why all this research had the background of mental illness like PTSD, anxiety and depression, yet NO WHERE did these scientists and psychologists talk about how race impacts the prevalence of illness and happiness. Granted, people of color are still disenfranchised today, yet all of these studies are fairly recent. Keyes model is from 2002, Seligman has been publishing on positive psychology since the 90s, and Lyubomirsky’s model was presented in the 2000s. I find this disappointing and to put it mildly –lacking, so instead of blogging about the absence of this pertinent information, I decided to explore studies that looked at race as a factor. A book I found compiled several studies that explored different races and measured different characteristics that encouraged happiness and a meaningful life. One article I read looked at Hispanic and Latino communities. The characteristic that stood out to me was family-oriented values how it related to religiosity/spirituality. Family relations are paramount and there is a collectivist mindset that teaches that the needs of the family as a whole precede the individual’s needs and they found that these family oriented values were positively associated with higher self-esteem, well-being, life purpose, life satisfaction and happiness. Religiosity is an example of a culture specific strength. “Religiosity” is universal in that those who participate have a belief in a higher power. Pargament found that compared to non-hispanic whites, African Americans and Hispanics that said religion was integrated into their life on a regular basis tended to have lower rates of psychological distress. Jeglic et. al pointed out that even if there is a universal set of positive characteristics that exists across cultures, these characteristics can and do manifest themselves differently and mean different things depending on the culture and the context.
The new information I learned is more helpful because it looked at how happiness is defined and measured within different cultures. It provided more context and shared more than just the dominant white, middle to upper class person’s perspective, their community values, and family structure. There is nothing universal about how happiness in defined cross-culturally. Overall, the topics covered have also been useful as a reminder for me to check in with myself. For example, if I cannot focus, I take a second to figure out why. Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Based off of my answer, I can come up with solutions. So if I’m hungry, I will go eat. The last thing I want to do is get hangry and take it out on an innocent bystander!
Chang, Edward C. (Ed); Downey, Christina A. (Ed); Hirsch, Jameson K. (Ed); Lin, Natalie J. (Ed). (2016). Positive psychology in racial and ethnic groups: Theory, research, and practice. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. xiii 339 pp., http://dx.doi.org.proxy.library.vcu.edu/10.1037/14799-000
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