Who I am today
Positive psychology is the field that upended my world ten years ago, gave my life new purpose, my job new meaning, my friends more importance, and my loved ones more gratitude. In short, it rocked my existence and changed me in so many ways that I don’t know who I would be today, personally or professionally, without it.
More yes, less no
Once you are exposed to the research on how to live a fulfilling and flourishing life, you can’t unring that bell. You have heard it and you are now accountable to do something with it. For example, Chris Peterson was one of the major instructors during my year in the first MAPP program at the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 and 2006, and he was famous for announcing in almost every lecture, “Positive Psychology boils down to one phrase: Other people matter.” I heard repeatedly that cultivating the right relationships would bear significant fruit in life, so I changed my work schedule to include more time for friends and less time in the office. I said “yes” to things more often than I said “no.”
Happiness then success
I also was exposed to the research on how success in life is preceded by happiness, and that we don’t become happy because we are successful, we become successful because we are happy. That altered the fundamental way I use goal-setting in my life and coaching practice, and even resulted in my Capstone project, which became ‘Creating Your Best Life’ (Sterling), the first evidence-based book to connect the science of flourishing with the science of goal accomplishment. Marty Seligman praised the book in “Flourish,” noting that I had “added a major missing piece to the world of coaching.”
TED talk on grit
Positive Psychology also includes the research on resilience and grit, which has changed the ways in which I view parenting. I now see it as a necessity that we raise our children to court and learn from failure, not bubble wrap and prevent them from feeling the pain of taking risks and picking themselves up. Angela Duckworth’s research on grit, which she was doing at Penn during my MAPP year, has become such a passion of mine that I recently gave a TEDxt talk in New York City about the three things I think everyone can do to cultivate grit, which I will be elaborating on in my upcoming book, “Authentic Grit.” I have even launched an Authentic Grit Challenge, which anyone can participate in by clicking here.
A transformative and powerful field
Positive Psychology is a transformative and powerful field that now challenges people to look at what is “good,” and to amplify that instead of trying to fix what’s broken or “bad.” If we could all turn our lens in that direction, regardless of what we do in life, we might be filled with more gratitude and awe, and less fury and criticism – qualities we couldn’t need more in the world right now.
About the author: Caroline Adams Miller is a leader in the field of positive psychology, is world renowned for her research and work in the areas of grit, goal achievement, success and happiness carolinemiller.com