Positive Psychology and Resilience

What is positive psychology and resilience?

Why would I like to reflect on these concepts and principles of positive psychology?

There are a few messages here by Tal Ben Shahar in his video lecture on Positive Psychology – Lesson 2:

How to be successful and resilient in life?

– Optimism

– Faith and a sense of meaning

– Prosocial behavior

– Focusing on strengths

– Set goals

– A role model

– Social support

Tal stresses the importance of asking the “right” questions in quest of life, in the pursuit of happiness (my interpretation).

“Questions create reality.”  I think this is a good point.  I would add another important question: “Why would you like to challenge the assumptions about happiness?”  Have we assumed that what the researchers found about happiness would lead us to a happier life?  Why would we form such a “belief”? Is happiness based on experience?

As Tal mentioned, 80% of college students experienced depression, and 47% of students have experienced a certain form of serious depression.  He quoted that as the case of Harvard University students.  It would be interesting to look deeper into the research survey to find out the reasons why students were depressed.   Some of the reasons seemed to point out the stressful life in HE study, and the immense changes within the few years of undergraduate studies in order to adapt to the “academic” and “social” life in colleges and universities.

He quoted the work of Marva Collins, and explained why he decided to become a teacher, all because of the wonderful work and inspiration of Marva.  Marva inspired her students to look at the positive things, the strengths instead of weaknesses of ourselves.

All these sound positive, as I would also assume that these are the primary reasons why most of us are looking for social belonging, ego and actualization, as proposed by Abraham Maslow, back in the 1950s till 70s.

Why aren’t these messages not being understood by most people?  The message could be very simple: most people when experiencing unfortunate events or un-anticipated changes might start blaming others, or themselves.  Here Tal suggested: “Stop blaming others, take responsibility of your life”.

This reminded me of the basis of positive psychology:

I think there are certain assumptions here on positive psychology that may be interesting for “me” to explore.

1. Have we assumed that people are interested in learning together in a social way?  Is social = happiness? How about those introverted people who don’t like too much of socialising?  Indeed in certain religions, people don’t always prefer to fully socialise if that is against their wish and autonomy.  In other words, being social may only impose tensions on their spiritual growth.  So, there are cultures where people would believe that we need to look inside us for happiness and well being, rather than looking outward for material happiness and success.   If what people are looking for is success, then they need to consider what prices and sacrifices that they have to pay or endure in their journey of success.

Resilience is surely needed to achieve success.  But why are people still preferring to the introverted style of living?  If 1/3 of the population is made up of introverted people, is education about changing them to become more extroverted?

2. Have we assumed that every day is important to each of us?  Isn’t it why we call the time now as “present”?

“Seize the day”

3. Have we assumed that being positive and looking for positive could bring the positive parts from each of us?

Why are we still looking for questions like: What are my weaknesses?  How could I improve? Are these just focus on what we are NOT good at, and not what we are really GOOD at?

I have once thought that we all think we could do better, not because we want to do better than others, but to become a better person ourselves. As shared in Tal’s presentation, we are human “beings” – the being that is too important that we might have forgotten.

My reflection and learning is: “Don’t blame any others, including any education system, but take personal responsibility in re-shaping, adapting, or changing the way we think, learn or behave when things don’t go our way”.  We must pave our way out from the chaotic and uncharted course of life, in order to take hold of our destiny.  No one could decide our destiny for us, without our consent.

Be resilient and be passionate in what you believe and interested in life and you would be able to achieve success, and be happy.

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