What Positive Psychology Means to Me

Career Suicide?

Around six years ago, I decided I didn’t want to be an academic any more. I had studied, researched and taught various topics in psychology for twenty years and I had reached a point where I realised my heart wasn’t in it any more. I was looking for something else, but I didn’t know what. So I left my comfortable full-time academic teaching post without a job to go to. Some might describe it as career suicide. Others might describe it as a leap of faith. I described it as ‘Operation Freefall’. It was a challenging time and a decision that had a major impact on those around me from both a personal and financial perspective.

A Lesson in Positive Psychology

Fast forward six years and I find myself back in academia, teaching and researching psychology. So did I go through all that for nothing? Not at all.  At the very least, it was a lesson in Positive Psychology. The decision, the actions that followed it and the subsequent consequences allowed a personal exploration of courage, trust, positive relationships, compassion, hope, resilience and change… all in the pursuit of a meaningful life. It was a journey that brought me to a place where I could return to academic psychology from a more ‘enlightened’ perspective. High Wycombe of all places!

‘It’s Just a Ride’

In my current role, I now teach and supervise students on a Masters course in Applied Positive Psychology (one of only a handful in the world!) at a completely different university to where I had been working before. When I had decided to walk away from academia all those years before, I had no inclination that this was what lay ahead. However, I value the opportunity that decision now gives me to draw upon my training and personal experience to support others wishing to explore this dynamic and evolving discipline.

Positive Psychology, to me, is about the journey. As Bill Hicks, a US comedian insightfully observed about the world, “it’s just a ride”. If that’s true then positive psychology is, amongst other things, all about helping us to enjoy that ride.

 

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

 

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