“True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know” —Confucius

A reflection of the journey

As I reflect on this journey, I can’t help but feel a profound sense of accomplishment and relief. As with all of my previous courses, I jumped in with an open-mind and I attempted to make the most out of this opportunity to grow. This may come as a shock to some but I actually enjoy learning and I make no apologies for this. My initial thoughts coming into this class were mostly favorable due to the course content and the professor’s ability to connect with her students. I had never heard of the term “Positive Psychology” but I had been exposed to and even taught many of the lesson concepts we explored during this term. More than anything, I wanted to see how others view the world and attempt to understand their actions, decisions, and behaviors when life happens.

I would argue that most rational people can remain positive when things are going well and life stressors are near non-existent (i.e. financial, relationship, legal, etc…). This becomes much more challenging when an individual is faced with loss, such as the death of a loved one, or they are on the receiving end of negative feedback for performance. My goal throughout this course was to observe how cultural norms influenced an individual’s response to stress and learn about different coping methods to remain resilient throughout a stressful situation. I am at an advantage because I have taught many of these lesson concepts; however, learning doesn’t stop at comprehension of the terminology. It is amazing what can be learned through active listening and critically thinking about the responses posted by my classmates. For me, this is where most of my learning occurred.

Open your mind to the world, open yourself to challenges

As Confucius states in the opening quote, learning something that challenges a person’s values and worldview takes humility; it takes courage. Wisdom comes through life experiences and observing the world through the lens of others. That is what this course did for me. Aha moments happening daily for me because people are always doing amazing things. Likewise, some of the threaded discussions posted by my classmates were profound; life changing in their own way. There were numerous instances of joy, empathy, compassion, resilience, and hope. The wisdom shared by everyone through their posts and comments, to include the professor’s feedback, made the lesson concepts more tangible. We learned that positive psychology requires a balance of optimism and pessimism, just like everything else in life. Most importantly, we learned about FLOW. For me, this was the most profound aspect of the course because I was able to finally articulate a feeling I have experienced several times in my life.

Again, I am at an advantage because I spent 4 years facilitating a leadership and management course for Senior Enlisted Leader from all over the world. Our entire course was founded on self awareness, adaptability, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. Many of these aha moments were shared by my former students and their experiences added to my own self-awareness. It was a win-win situation for everyone. This class was critical to my overall development and it helped refine some of the strengths I’ve discovered in previous classes. Ultimately, this is the goal for any educational journey and this class certainly did not disappoint. The only drawback is that my workload limited my interaction with my teammates but there is a lesson to be learned within this constraint as well. With this new found knowledge, my goal is to continue to grow and share my experiences with the folks I interact with. I know these concepts will help me strengthen relationships and help minimize conflict simply because of my willingness to consider an opposing view point.

Stepping out of the comfort zone

This was all possible simply because I chose to step out of my comfort zone and explore the world that is not known to me. For me, this is what the Chinese philosopher Confucius challenges us all to do. Ironically, Confucius “has been…idealized, deified, dismissed, vilified, and rehabilitated over the millennia…” (Richey, 2015). This is a good indication why his thoughts have withstood the test of time and is why I chose to use his quote to support my reflection. As long as people are discussing differing viewpoints and asking why, there is a good possibility that learning will occur. Thank you for a great class.

Richey, Jeff. “Confucius (551 – 479 B.C.E.)”, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web. 15 Dec 15. http://www.iep.utm.edu/confuciu/

About the Author: Esteban Martinez serves in the Unites States Air Force as an education facilitator at a leadership training facility. He and his family have enjoyed traveling to many places together. Esteban has a passion for education and influencing others in a positive way. He looks forward to graduating in the fall.


‘We are the Positive Psychology People’

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