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Unformatted text preview: How Do We Recognize A Life Lived Well, A Life Worthy of Admiration and Respect? While feeling happy and satisfied with one’s life are worthy goals, these are also not the only criteria to define a life lived well. Other criteria that can be used to measure positive outcomes in live include flow states, feeling love & affection for others, being deeply involved in creative activities, realizing one’s potentials, and increasing a sense of meaning by experiencing a spiritual dimension in life. A LOOK TOWARD THE FUTURE OF POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY POSITIVE Having happiness as a goal in life is actually quite a new belief. It was not until the mid 1900’s that the majority of people in industrialized countries believed they should actively seek happiness as a major goal in life. Expanding the Criteria for the Good Life Expanding Any adequate definition of the good life cannot be based solely on how much positive emotion a person feels each day. Positive emotions will always be part of how people define wellbeing. New criteria for the good life must include positive emotions but must also expand definitions to fit the complexity of human life. Happiness as a By-Product, Not a Goal, in Life Not
Given the complexities of human emotions, some psychologists have proposed that happiness should not be a goal in life but rather a byproduct of how a person lives. Nancy Cantor & Catherine Sanderson expressed similar ideas by saying that well being is found through active involvement in life activities. From their perspective, people should first become participants in life and the well being will follow. We Should Seek Meaning We Rather than Happiness Victor Frankl – believed that the creation of meaning – not happiness must be the major criterion for the good life. According to him, mental health is associated with a deep commitment to selfawareness, honesty, courage, responsibility, and active involvement in whatever was presented by life. The meaning of life must be found in each moment as a person confronts the challenges and choices of his or her life. Robert Emmons (1999) He notes that while happiness is centered on finding positive emotions in life, meaning often involves recognizing and accepting both positive and negative emotions. He suggests that meaning is found by accepting and integrating all emotions into a life that is filled with rich and varied experiences. Another factor that can influence wellbeing is an individual’s level of psychological development or maturity. Cowen & Kilmer suggested that positive psychology should pay more attention to the developmental paths that people take as they move through life. The nature of wellbeing and the good life may be quite different at different points in life or for different life goals that people pursue. People define and create a sense of wellbeing differently between age groups. Some people possess more psychological maturity than others. Maturity and Positive Personality Development Development Beyond Happiness and Life Satisfaction Beyond
Wellbeing and the nature of the good life can be found through any number of different avenues. Leading researchers in subjective wellbeing have said that happiness may be “necessary’ to the good life but not “sufficient”. They have said that positive emotionality needs to be part of a whole life package that also includes factors such as prosocial values, good health, and working toward socially desirable goals. People Need Both Positive People and Negative Emotions Researchers have pointed out that in order to experience certain positive outcomes in life it is necessary to balance positive and negative emotions rather than eliminate the negative ones. The Need for New Research Methods The In general, many scientists agree that the use of multiple research strategies will be more necessary in the future. Systems Theory Systems Suggestions have been made that psychology needs to begin looking at human beings as integrated systems of mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Researchers also say that positive psychology needs to view people in a more holistic fashion than has been done in the past. One of the more fascinating recent changes in psychological theory is the conceptualization of human beings as integrated organisms that can be described by various subsystems – physical, emotional, intellectual, behavioral, and spiritual. Any definition of wellbeing must include healthy functioning in all the subsystems as well as healthy integration between subsystems. “Billiard Ball” Model of Causality “Billiard ball” model of causality: one object moves and hits another object, causing the second to move. This was transformed into psychological models that explain human behavior as a series of stimuli that influence people and then cause certain responses to occur. Beyond the Billiard Ball Beyond
In a system how all of the parts work together may be more important than any one element of the system. The idea of holism – in which the whole is greater that the sum of its parts – was adopted into this perspective. This particular development is one of the potentially most significant changes in theoretical perspectives on psychological wellbeing. The holistic study of wellbeing still remains a challenge for the future of positive psychology Future Applications of Positive Psychology Future All scientific endeavors must eventually show that they can have an impact on the world in some way. Positive psychology must also show that the theories and research findings that fuel academic and scientific progress can be translated into positive changes in the world. This is already underway and is meeting quite a bit of success. Interventions have already succeeded in helping build resilience, hope, optimism, happiness, states of flow, healthier relationships, and better health. People are also looking at how to help improve education, use new models of transformational leadership in business, and create stronger communities. Application of ideas found in positive psychology has also begun to influence how psychotherapy and counseling are delivered. New Intervention Strategies New
As ideas from positive psychology spread, people are also beginning to create new avenues for careers that are based on positive emotionality and positive assumptions about human beings. One of those newer career paths is that of life coaching. The idea of life coaching is that many people who are well adjusted and functioning satisfactorily may find themselves stuck at some point in life. They may need a consultant to help them reach a major decision, nurture a new direction in life, or to find better ways to find fulfillment in life. These people are not suffering from any major psychological problem, they only need a few suggestions, a new perspective, or a little encouragement to get moving again. Therefore, the idea of a life coach was created to fill this need. Some psychologists are continuing to New Methods of Assessment New develop methods of personality and behavioral assessment based on ideas from positive psychology. Peterson and Seligman have recently published their handbook on the classification of strengths and virtues. Their book looks at measures of hope, optimism, gratitude, and quality of life, to name a few. These efforts point to the day when the assessment of positive emotions and virtues will present an alternative to the deficitbased assessment of the current medical model. Therefore, in the future, people can be evaluated on both their current emotional problems and existent strengths that might be cultivated as they emerge from despair into positive wellbeing. Toward the Future With Optimism Toward Positive psychology has touched a chord in many professionals and students. Every year the area draws more attention. Many people seem enthusiastic about an approach to the study of human beings that emphasizes the positive, the adaptive, the healthy, and the admirable qualities of humanity. Applications of the findings are beginning to show that by focusing on human strengths and virtues it is possible to increase success in many areas of life such as education, job satisfaction, romantic relationships, health, and general wellbeing. The future look optimistic for positive psychology and for the people it may serve in the future. ...
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- Fall '07