Articles in Hope
Where do you find the inspiration to live a fulfilling life and the courage to navigate heartache and disappointment? One place I turn to is the writing of poet, lawyer, and positive psychology expert, John Sean Doyle.
Two years ago, my two-year-old son suffered a severe scald burn covering 16 percent of his body. My unborn baby had a birth defect needing attention. In the year-and-a-half that followed, I saw my boys through four surgeries. I went through two surgeries myself after a complicated second trimester pregnancy loss. Seven particular tools from positive psychology helped me come through some very difficullt times. I believe I have experienced posttraumatic growth following these adversities, and Roepke and Seligman’s recent article helps me see why.
I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did, but I found myself thinking about some of the stories long after I read them. I especially enjoyed the stories by individuals who personally experienced mental health disorders. They described the essential features of their recoveries, some of which are completely unexpected. Each story, whether by a therapist or a patient, is well-written from a personal perspective and reads like a mini-novel.
Having recently completed the dissertation for my MAPP program, I can now reflect on the final few weeks before my submission. I felt pressured, had a drop in overall well-being, and struggled to get into flow. Worse still, I wasn’t great company to be around. I thought to myself, as a student and researcher of positive psychology, how could I be unhappy and not flourishing? But at least I wasn’t languishing. What kept me from dipping into languishing?
What started as a casual diary in my early teens is now a daily ritual, as essential as the caffeine that accompanies it. I’m talking about writing a journal, my life enhancing way to juggle my obligations and wants. So imagine my delight when I discovered that the practice can create personal and spiritual growth. The question is, how?
When they want to feel more loved, valued, respected or connected, most people give away their power. They ask (or want) others to be different, which means someone else’s behavior determines how happy they will be.
What do happier people do?
December 5, 2013 will be remembered for news of the death of the first black president of South Africa, anti-apartheid icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela. I’m not normally drawn to writing about political leaders. But Mandela was different in every respect. His life was a life well-lived.
Time to take another look at the IPPA Third World Congress. How wide was the coverage? Then how deep did positive psychology go when it was embodied by the Chilean miners during their long ordeal? This was one of the stories I heard when I was at the conference.
Just as the possibilities beyond the horizon are endless, so too are our potential ways of interacting with the world. The challenge is to embrace the sweet density and obscurity of life, recognize the meaning in the rawness of experience, and acknowledge that through reflection we may never catch up. What we decide now matters. If we have to play the game, we might as well play it beautifully, see what we can learn, try to make things better and easier for one another and enjoy the ride as much as we can.
Pick any chapter from Chris Peterson’s posthumously published book, Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology, and you’re in for a real treat. His reflections cover every aspect of what it means to be human and to live a life worth living. Even sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll get a passing mention, although you won’t find them listed in the index.