Saturday, December 5, 2009

Positve Benefits?

There is a new concept, or a branch even, in the field of psychology that is referred to as positive psychology and sometimes “positivity”. As you would expect, there are those who support it and those who do not. In reading about the positivity notion as promoted by Barbara Fredrickson, I was not really convinced to take either side.

Dr. Fredrickson refers to a ratio that needs to be held in order for one to be happy, resilient and productive. She identifies 10 top positive emotions and says that one must maintain at least three of them for every negative one. For example, stress is negative and joy, serenity and love are positive. I think supporters of this make it so complicated as to be convoluted.
Yes, a person with a positive outlook who is resourceful can be resilient and thus more content and in the end healthier. Being healthier, this person would be more positive and happy. This person may flourish in life.

The alternative suggestion is that many or some people lack both inner and outer resources to make their lives more full of interest, awe and hope and it may also be true – in a way. If the theorists are saying that the resources are simply not available to some people, well, I know I felt that about too many people when I worked in psychiatry and I sincerely hope it is not true.
Even so, teaching people to find the positive and to actively change their lives is the work of someone much more patient then I.

For my personal self “positivity” has been an area of much work AND progress. I always have a Plan B and though I may fret, worry and pout about the failure of Plan A, it is only as a way of venting. I have made myself resilient (perhaps from an inner resource) and I hope that my life remains high in the number of positive emotions expressed

As I was about to post the blog, I thought I should add a link for you to read more about this. I found a website for Barbara Fredrickson which I am about to paste here, but on the page is also a two minute survey you can take to assess your 3:1 ratio, I started with the first few questions and stopped. They ask about significant emotions and how extreme you have EVER felt them – well, I have lived a lot of years in my short life and I do not think that the questions would adequately measure my true essence, so I bailed on the quiz. Just bear it in mind if you take it – it is not to my knowledge a valid, well tested, objective measure of YOU.

What do you need to take away from today? Life is short, you are strong, make your ending positive and your daily life as pleasant as you possibly can.

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