Sometimes, people ask me if my life has changed since I enrolled on the MSc Applied Positive Psychology course (MAPP) at Bucks New University. The answer is no, my life has changed very little. However, the way I see my life and the world around me changed completely and so, paradoxically, the answer is also yes, my life is completely different.
In metaphoric terms, it is rather like how I see the world when I put on my reading glasses; I can see without them but wearing them removes the blur, bring things into focus and I see things much clearer. Of course, it also means I’m forced to see things that would otherwise be easy to overlook – my wrinkles when I look in the mirror, the dust upon the shelves and the calorific value on the labels of my favourite foods for instance. This is a similar experience as a result of the MAPP course; I’m more aware of strengths and virtues but with that comes the knowledge that I have sole responsibility for every aspect of how I feel and what I do with my life. I can no longer blame my circumstances, other people and lack of opportunities if I fail or feel out of sorts. If happiness and health are choices, then logic would suggest that so too are their opposites. This is how I view my life nowadays and frankly, sometimes it can feel uncomfortable. The emotional crutch of victim thinking and blaming others has been removed and sometimes I hobble, but it is worth it to experience the more frequent feelings of joy, vitality and the ability to soar.
I think in some ways embarking on the MAPP journey is like opening Pandora’s box – a lot of things come out! In the mythological tale hope was the one thing that remained in the box when Pandora opened it, and I have found that positive psychology is packed with hope. I most enjoyed learning about the upward spirals of positivity, love and positive emotions but it was, and remains hope that has given me the most comfort, security and optimism.
My journey with a MAPP provided me with the skills and resources I need to live a purposeful and meaningful life. Ironically perhaps, I already had them but I couldn’t access them until I was able to give them a name and gain an understanding of how they worked. Now I realise that I have everything I need in abundance. Like unused muscles, some skills have suffered from dystrophy through lack of use or never been properly developed but positive psychology shows ways to improve or create them through exercises called interventions.
With hindsight I can see that my journey with a MAPP has taken something away from me too. That something is unnecessary fear. MAPP has helped me embrace everything in my life with courage. I don’t fear failure, I don’t fear old age, I don’t fear death. I know how to savour good experiences and even gain something worthy from the more negative ones. Little of anything lasts long in our lives and we should remember this in good times and bad.
At the risk of becoming an Evangelist for positive psychology, I am passionate that the theory should be applied and believe that it is only through its application that it serves a positive purpose. I integrate the lessons from positive psychology into my personal life, my private practice (clinical hypnotherapy and laughter sessions) as well as teaching others about it. I am proud to be one of ‘The Positive Psychology People’ Team and believe that this is one of the ways the subject matter can be shared and adopted by people around the world.
I feel my life’s journey is going in exactly the right direction – and I couldn’t have done it without a MAPP.
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’