Throughout the past few weeks, I have dealt with many obstacles that have shaken up what is normally a very important thing to me: my daily routine. The recent weeks have been full of bad news, unfortunate situational circumstances, and what to me, feel like a series of tests for my strength and mental state. This isn’t new, its happened many times before, to me and well… everybody else at one time or another. This time I honestly did find my mind jumping toward our class lectures on positive psychology to help me cope with these problems, including the Wellbeing Theory, and specifically the PERMA model. I learned that following the PERMA model is necessary to achieve “Flow” in my life, a term that is described as finding the happy medium when cross-referencing skill and challenge, and also ideal conditions for Engagement (E).
We all face challenges in our lives, just like I have as of late, and realized since I started ruminating on these ideas in my daily life since, there must be something there that can be helpful to me. I began to ponder on the idea of building upon positivity in my life by leaning into the positive emotions I felt and manifesting them into action. This was told by Barbara Fredrickson’s “Broaden and Build Theory”, which indulges the idea that if one broadens the path their mind takes when experiencing positive emotions they will flourish in their activities and relationships, and obtain the ability to broaden their personal resources in things such as their skills, knowledge, and social support. The theory explains that those steps would, in turn, enhance the most important aspects of their lives, promote wellness, and eventually lead to an uphill spiral in life creating a cycle of positivity. The idea that building on positive emotions could result in living a meaningful life was an enticing one, although of course not so simple when its attempted to be applied in real life.
During the week I had dealing with deadly storms in the place where my family lives, I actively tried to make mental connections from my positive emotions to attempt to experience strength and optimism to get through them. I hoped that doing this would help me to obtain strength and mental acuity to handle those situations and complete the tasks that were necessary, and in a lot of ways, it did work. For example, my travel anxiety had to be overcome to help my sister evacuate from her school due to the Hurricane. I felt accomplished after, realizing that this theory when applied really could work for me if I played to my strengths.
So, my strengths… For our class we VIA strengths survey, and I was most interested in my individual results. It was shown that my present top three strengths are Bravery, Forgiveness, and Leadership respectively. I was fascinated by these results as in the past few weeks dealing with the negative impacts of the events I was facing… I would have guessed those traits would have been close to the bottom. As I reflected, I realized that all of my life I have possessed those strength, and that sometimes I run away from them for reasons having to do with my mental state in how I felt about myself, my habit to self-doubt.
Throughout my career thus far as a Psychology major at VCU I’ve learned that there are positive mental rewards for achieving goals that required great effort and anticipation: a flood of mid-brain dopamine which encourages continued behavior of that nature. (A in PERMA is Achievement), and that’s a feeling that has enabled me to embrace the Fredrickson’s “Broaden and Build” theory.
I have realized since beginning to more thoroughly understand some of the theories of positive psychology, such as those discussed in class, that I am actually able to apply them to my life to reduce stress, feel a sense of reward, and minimize anxiety in my everyday routine. There are a vast amount of theories in psychology, including many conflicting theories, but utilizing the PERMA model, being conscious of how to “Broaden and Build”, as well as recognizing my strengths have already massively helped me. It is important to utilize what works for you, and I believe continuing to apply positive psychology to my everyday life will lead me down a path of positive well-being.