A breath of fresh air
When I think of positive psychology my very first thought is “a breath of fresh air”. After attaining a degree in counseling and then becoming a psychology professor, I became worn by the negative patterns of the field in general. Comments like “what is wrong with people”… “tell me your problem is”…“he/she is the one with PTSD, depression, anxiety”…seemed to fill my heart with gloom. I wanted to stand up and shout “this is junk! They are still humans and maybe we need to find a better way of working with them”. I lost hope in the field to the point I almost quit both professions all together. Now that I am well–rooted in positive psychology I cannot imagine two more amazing venues where I can practice and share positive psychology. You should see a client’s eyes light up when the first thing you say is “tell me about your strengths you use to get through this difficult time”; it is like taking down a barrier and saying “I got you, we are going to do this together”.
As a professor
I am a psychology professor and within that realm I do teach positive psychology, but in the big picture of life, it is not about me teaching so much as it is the reciprocal good that comes back into my life; call me greedy. Everything I teach I live. Positive psychology tells us to savor life and to be mindful about all the good that is around us, to connect, to love, to laugh, to be OK with sadness. Even in the rough patches of life (admittedly I have had my fill) positive psychology teaches us that we can be down in a valley, but through choosing to focus on the good, keeping hope alive, and connecting in a very humanly ways, we can find meaning and find pathways back up to those glorious peaks. This is not a compartmentalize entity; all who are in my life are part of my grand journey, to include each student who walks through my door.
I dread the end of each semester. Not because of the dodgeball term-paper event, me against all my students; they always win, but because I have learned to let go of expectation and to emerge myself with my students in a journey through learning in all classes I teach. The journey becomes more than what is taught from the books or lectures. The journey becomes the whole through the human experience of trust, support, kindness, savouring, building and even loving. Positive psychology has given me the tools to find strength in students where they did not believe they had them. It has given me the ability to connect so deep that I regularly receive graduation, birth notices, thank you cards, and invitations to family events, and this is the mark of success to me.
There was nothing more enlightening to me than to discover my true strengths (VIA). Being a retired Air Force service woman I was sure I would have bravery and valor at the top of my list. I was actually quite ticked off to find my number one strength to be “Transcendence- Appreciation for Beauty and Excellence”. What? That is no label for someone who has been in the military for 20+ years. Then one day a student said to me “Lynn, it is so obvious that you care so much about your students; you see all of us”. That was a game-changer for me; I do see them for every bit of who they are and who they will become in their own perfect way.
So when someone asks me about positive psychology and what it means to me, I tell them that it means I have the tools to change my destination every second of everyday. That includes how I see myself and others, how I act, and how I influence by a ripple effect that is slow, steady and expansive. To me, positive psychology is the quick-lock release of walking into life, rather than walking through life.
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’
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