“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns; or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses ”—Abraham Lincoln
Prior to learning about the field of positive psychology, I thought it was just another of the may viewpoints within psychology. I thought that positive psychology would aim to teach future practitioners to have a positive view of the difficulties patients or clients face. While I wasn’t completely off base, I had no idea what that positive view would be; how do you look at depression as a good thing?
Looking from a new perspective
It was an ah-ha moment to become more educated on the teachings of positive psychology and realize it’s not just about looking at the issues in a positive way. It’s about having a whole new perspective in psychology. Positive psychologists attack issues as if they’re not issues, labeling something as an issue itself marks it difficult. Labels say it shouldn’t be happening and we need to find a way to stop it. Whereas, positive psychology tells us, the difficulties we face are normal! Depression happens, anxiety happens! Those diagnoses are not the problem; the way we view them is. Fields of psychology outside of positive psychology aim to teach “sufferers” how to cope and get rid of their issues after they have begun. Positive psychology is retroactive, how? by starting with a focus on strengths not weaknesses.
Focus on strengths, not weakness; we all have weaknesses
Positive psychology has the ability to teach us how to handle these issues before they even set in; because it is normal and these issues tend to happen to everyone at some point in their lives. Now, following the positive psychology course I just took… my eyes have been opened to how important it is to educate our youth on psychology; on the ideas of positive psychology to be exact. There is such a stigma attached to mental health issue within our culture.
Having mental health difficulties is stigmatized enough, and the idea of actually seeking help for those struggles is looked down upon by many. People feel weak for needing the education on how to overcome mental health obstacles. They feel weak for having the difficulties in the first place when they shouldn’t. I feel we should educate our next generation from a young age on the perspective that mental health obstacle is normal, okay and happen to everyone… alongside teaching them how to know their personal strength and how to call on those strengths during such obstacles. I believe our society would benefit enormously in the area of mental health if we all just tried this new perspective.
About the Author: Danielle Kayla Nevins-Manuel is a student at Chaminade University at Honolulu, enrolled as a psychology major. She aims to work in the field of applied behavior analysis to make a difference in the lives of children and families when dealing with autism and other developmental obstacles. In her free time, she enjoys reading and hiking with her husband, and two daughters Annabelle and Alaina.