Much of human psychology focuses on how to improve the lives of those with mental disorders. But the relatively new field of Positive Psychology studies the psychological characteristics and practices that allow peoples’ lives to flourish. Finding its roots in Maslow’s work on self-actualization, the field itself has flourished as research into life satisfaction, wellness and meaning has expanded.
The pioneering efforts of Martin Seligman has also influenced the field making Positive Psychology a sought-after program at many universities. Recently, the course “Psychology and the Good Life” became Yale’s most popular class ever – with 1,200 students enrolling – about one fourth of the undergraduate student body!
Often referred to as happiness, Seligman, in a departure from his first theory of Authentic Happiness, now says the good life is more akin to Flourishing than happiness. Flourishing, Seligman points out, includes these five essential elements:
- Positive emotion
- Engagement – the flow state
Positive Psychology is about more than the happiness of mood swings, and even more than about life satisfaction. By working on all five elements, the chance for a fulfilling life is thereby increased many times over.
What might be missing from the five elements above is the element of self-realization, as exemplified by the being of existence rather than the doing. This domain includes being present, holding conscious awareness, and experiencing the benefits that derive from a contemplative practice. Although self-realization might be subsumed under meaning, it is a much deeper dimension.
The Graduate Institute is proud to offer its own Certificate in Positive Psychology, Emotional Wellbeing and Happiness, a 12-credit program starting on July 20, 2018.
Positive Psychology, as taught at The Graduate Institute serves as foundational theory for both therapists and life coaches to develop the skills needed to help clients achieve optimal functioning and the ability to flourish.
Learn more about the program here.
Charles Silverstein, PhD
Charles is dedicated to pursuing his deep interest in personal transformation, alternative healing, and the relationship between science and spirituality. He holds an MA degree in Conscious Evolution from TGI, and a PhD in Transformative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. His research interests included higher stages of adult development, transformative practices, spiritual development and personal growth with an emphasis on meditative practices and somatic awareness.