Positive Psychology

What is Positive Psychology?

Many people find themselves dissatisfied after having achieved everything our society identifies as the "good things in life," namely material wealth, good looks, a swanky ride and Italian leather shoes. All of us have an inborn need to be challenged on a higher level, to use our unique strengths to give our lives a sense of meaningful purpose. Martin Seligman, founder of the Positive Psychology movement, calls this "Authentic Happiness."

Positive psychology has helped clarify the challenge of reaching these higher ideals by investigating the strengths and virtues valued across a wide range of cultures. Two leaders in Positive Psychology, Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, identified the following essential character strengths:

  • Wisdom and knowledge (curiosity, love of learning, perspective);
  • Courage (valor, perseverance, integrity);
  • Love and kindness;
  • Justice (leadership, fairness, citizenship);
  • Temperance (self-control, humility, prudence);
  • Spirituality and transcendence (appreciation of beauty, hope, zest, forgiveness, and humor).

Everyone has some of these strengths in varying degrees. When we become consciously aware of our unique strengths and engage in activities that use them, we experience joy, enthusiasm, deep involvement, concentration, and flow. When individuals and couples acknowledge the strengths in their relationships, they are challenged to live up to their ideals in small ways in their daily life. These small kindnesses build a buffer of good will against life's trials and help develop of habit of forgiveness for small transgressions. Many small acts lead to something life changing: a much deeper sense of fulfillment and happiness.

Authentic Happiness can be found through any one of the following paths:

The Pleasant Life: This consists of having as many pleasures as possible along with the skills to amplify them. This kind of happiness comes from savoring life and being mindful of the simple pleasures of everyday life.

The Good Life: This consists of knowing your signature strengths, and designing a life that allows you to express your signature strengths in your loves, friendships, work, and leisure time.The good life is full of a sense of flow, or an immersion that transcends self. The Meaningful Life: This consists of using your signature strengths in the service of something larger than yourself. Finally, you can lead the Full Life, which includes them all:

The Full Life includes a positive view of the past and the future, savoring positive feelings from the pleasures of daily life, deriving abundant gratification from using your signature strengths, and using these strengths in the service of something larger than yourself.

Values as Core Attractors:

Complexity theory argues that these strengths and values serve as core attractors. "Attractors" are like magnets that attract thought-action patterns that govern how people see the world. They form the cornerstone for long-term successful relationships for individuals, families and businesses alike. They inspire people to do things that are difficult, to make commitments that require discipline, and stick to plans for the long haul.

When family's values form the heart of a business's culture, vital synergies arise. An enduring commitment to values is the greatest strength a family can bring to business ownership. Values can have great power in shaping the business's performance and results. The impact of these values changes when the attractors change. For example, an attractor can change from "money" for personal pleasure, to "money" as a contribution to a community foundation. These attractors reflect our level of conscious awareness, which can range from feelings of shame and guilt to the higher levels of compassion, love, joy and peace (Hawkins, 1998). Higher levels of consciousness exert a greater magnetic power, are more inclusive, and encompass a wider range of influence than the lower levels.

When we use our values and strengths at higher levels of consciousness they reflect higher states of well being and prosperity. At lower levels of conscious individuals many not even be aware of the higher values that can impact their lives. At Lifetree Solutions, we help individuals and families identify their core values and strengths to help raise their consciousness and promote a legacy of happier, more prosperous lives.