Friday, March 1, 2019

Friday Feature: Would You Like Some Positivity with That?

I love it when my friends know my reading tastes so well that they send me articles to read -- especially when the articles are short enough for me to digest in the limited leisure reading time I have available.

Earlier this week, my friend/editor Barb, knowing my affinity for (and teaching of) positive psychology sent me an article exploring college classes in positive psychology. I wanted to share that piece ("Can you teach students to be happy? Colleges are trying.") with you here, but I've exceeded my free reading limit. If you subscribe to the Philadelphia Inquirer online, you might enjoy reading it.

I found a similar article not hiding behind a subscription wall at U.S. News. Both articles talk about the importance of understanding that happiness is more than an ephemeral trait; lasting happiness is something that can be cultivated and tapped into when times are tough. It can provide not just a mood boost, but a source of inner strength when we need it most. While we certainly can't just wave a magic wand (or take a magic pill) and replace depression with satisfaction, let alone happiness, understanding what works and why it does can help us to navigate the inevitable potholes that pepper our path. This was, in fact, one of the ideals behind the founding of the field of positive psychology in the first place.

I'm a big believer in this stuff; in fact, I created and taught a course in positive psychology last spring.   One of the things I discovered as I was putting the course together is that the best courses are hands-on, giving students the opportunity to immerse themselves in concepts like gratitude, optimism and savoring as a means of improving the quality of their lives. Trying these things on for size as part of the course helped them (and me, because I did the activities along with them) to develop new habits and healthy coping skills.

If you're curious about positive psychology, or if you've heard of it, but are skeptical, why not give one of these articles a read? A five minute investment could yield a bigger return than you're expecting.

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