I think that most things we learned can be tied back to two topics, the Keyes flourishing scale and the Broaden and Build Theory. The Broaden and Build theory asserts that the positive emotions and habits cultivated when things are good can then be used when things are bad, resulting in positive coping mechanisms, which help mitigate the effect of the negative situation. Positive psychology interventions are ways to practice and develop these skills. Interpersonal relationships provide the kind of support that helps when dealing with difficult times. Risk factors for addiction and genetic and environmental influences on other aspects of mental health place you on a certain side of the Keyes’ Flourishing Scale, your position on which can then be changed based on the decisions you’re making. The 50%, 40% 10% statistic also encapsulated a lot of the findings different professors presented.
I am personally focusing on practicing good habits, kind of in the same way you would work out for your mental health. I am trying to practice mindfulness more often (I do so when walking to class), and try and actively take not when something good is happening. One of the things I’ve noticed after taking this class is how much happiness I have in my life I haven’t really experienced because I haven’t noticed it. I’m also trying to pay more attention to when I am in my zone/experiencing flow. I’ve been sharing my insights via Twitter but honestly I think just talking to people about Positive Psychology is a better way to get the word out. I got to give a talk to Active Minds this semester, and being able to share what we’ve been learning was very empowering.
One of the more recent connections I’ve made from class is the potential of taking a positive psychology approach to religion. I can’t speak for anyone else’s, of course, but mine kind of maps out a way of life. Focusing on everything I should be doing and am unable to can be very overwhelming, somewhat similar to focusing on what is “wrong” with you with mental health. Instead, I’ve been trying to focus on what I am naturally good at, and taking the things I am not so good at as strengths I can work on. One of the findings presented in class that I found particularly interesting is that people reported satisfaction by working on their top five or bottom five strengths, so I am hopeful that this mindset will help me feel better about where I am in terms of practicing faith, but really I think it could be applied to any way of life.
The picture below summarizes what I’ve learned in this class. That 40% has been so empowering to discuss, and the picture below reminds me that no matter where we start, we can all move towards flourishing.