Positive psychology is a relatively new orientation in the field of psychology that focuses on human strengths and virtues. This discipline was introduced by Martin Seligman in 1998 to provide a different approach to psychology i.e. The shift from a negative approach to positive aspects of human life. Since its introduction, positive psychology has continued to experience significant growth and development that is mainly attributed to the increased attention on positive aspects of life.
Based on the specific components of positive psychology, I have identified my personal psychological strengths. These strengths were identified through the use of VIA Classification of Strengths from Pennsylvania State University. The identification and assessment of personal psychological strengths was also based on existing literature on positive psychology. Through the use of the tool, my personal psychological strengths include the character strengths of hope, transcendence, creativity, open-mindedness, and love of learning. I identified these personal psychological strengths though the use of the scoring methods in the VIA Inventory of Strengths, which contain psychometric properties that are crucial in determining behavior. The process also entailed discussions with my family and friends regarding my personal positive attributes.
These personal psychological strengths have a considerable impact on my life with regards to health, career, education, and relationships. Generally, these strengths contribute to improved physical, psychological, and emotional health and well-being. Despite the impact on improved well-being and health, these psychological strengths can be developed through various ways. The development is fueled by the fact that character strengths are not fixed attributed for every setting and time. The development would occur through assimilative efforts, play activities, and participation in character development programs.
Positive psychology is an emerging discipline that was introduced by Martin Peterson Seligman in 1998 when he was the president of the American Psychological Association. Seligman introduced this concept at a time when he was encouraging psychologists to remember the mission of the field of psychology is to nurture genius and develop human strength. This essay evaluates personal psychological strengths based on the results of VIA Classification of Strengths from Pennsylvania State University. Firstly, the paper examines the field of positive psychology in light of its emergence and development. Secondly, psychological strengths are discussed based on existing literature on positive psychology. Thirdly, personal psychological strengths are identified based on various methods available in this field. Fourth, a discussion regarding the impact of the identified strengths on personal life is examines. Finally, the author provides an evaluation of specific activities that may be used to develop these personal psychological strengths.
Emergence and Development of Positive Psychology
As previously mentioned, positive psychology is relatively new orientation in the field of psychology that was introduced by Martin Peterson Seligman in his attempts to increase research on human strength and psychological well-being of individuals. He developed this orientation following initiatives to encourage psychologists to remember the mission of this discipline i.e. building human strength and developing genius. During this period, psychologists had largely omitted this mission, which created in a new focus in the field of psychology (Compton & Hoffman, 2012, p.1). Actually, psychology was largely shifting towards emphasis on the study of weakness and damage and treatment of what is broken. Seligman introduced the new concept by arguing that psychology also entails studying virtue and strength as well as developing what is best within an individual.
In summary, the emergence and development of this discipline can be considered as an initiative to encourage psychologists to embrace a more open and grateful view of human potential, abilities, and intentions. As a result, this discipline examines the potential for doing the right thing that every individual has access to and can become a reality in their lives. In a nutshell, positive psychology can be defined as the scientific evaluation of what contributes to the growth and development of individuals and communities. It is characterized with three major dimensions i.e. The subjective level, individual level, and societal level. Under the subjective level, this study examines positive subjective states or emotions whereas it looks at positive individual traits or behavioral patterns at the individual level. At the societal level, positive psychology examines the creation, growth, and maintenance of positive institutions.
Having established that positive psychology focuses on the positive aspect of human functioning, the strengths of positive experiences and character like a fulfilling life are among the core concerns of this discipline. According to Fredrickson (2009), personal psychological strengths focus on positivity in light of how it transforms lives (p.37). In this case, these strengths relate to positive emotions and experiences that widen and open up the individual to new ideas and possibilities. Through identifying and enhancing personal psychological strengths, an individual develops his/her intellectual resources, social resources, and physical resources that enhance health and well-being. Personal psychological strengths are the basis through which the field of positive psychology provides a shift from negative focus associated with conventional psychology.
To further understand psychological strengths, the existing literature on positive psychology shows that they are based on the classification of virtues and character strengths. Generally, there are classifications of 6 virtues, which in turn contribute to the emergence of 24 character strengths. These classifications of 6 virtues are wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence (Seligman et. al, 2005, p.412). The character strengths under wisdom and knowledge include creativity, perspective, love of learning, curiosity, and open-mindedness while those under courage include zest, bravery, authenticity, and persistence. Character strengths under humanity are social intelligence, kindness, and love whereas those under justice include leadership, teamwork, and fairness. The virtue of temperance has three character strengths i.e. modesty, forgiveness, and prudence while transcendence includes humor, gratitude, appreciation, religiousness, and hope.
Personal Psychological Strengths
Research evidence in this discipline demonstrates that psychological strengths differ from one individual to another based on varying degree of positive characteristics. VIA Classification of Strengths is one probable approach to good character in relation to individual differences. My personal psychological strengths based on VIA Classification of Strengths include hope, transcendence, creativity and open-mindedness, and love of learning. My psychological strength of hope stems from my overwhelming belief that I will succeed with the goals I establish for my life and future. Transcendence is evident in my life since I usually express gratitude towards excellence and beauty and always count and appreciate my blessings on a daily basis. Creativity and open-mindedness comes from tendency to think through things and examine them from varying perspectives before making conclusions. Finally, the love of learning is demonstrated by my passion to master new skills and tendency to be curious.
The assessment or identification of the above personal psychological strengths was based on the use two methods. First, I used the VIA Inventory of Strengths tool, especially the information on scoring provided by Park and Peterson as well as means of practice based on signature strengths in innovative and different ways (Kobau et. al, 2011, p.e4). Secondly, I talked to my family and friends about what they thought were my positive attributes or emotions. The involvement of my family and friends helped in providing insights regarding my behaviors and positive characteristics.
Impact of Personal Psychological Strengths on Life and their Development
My personal psychological strengths play an important role in my current and future life, particularly health, career, education, and relationships. The strength of hope is not only important in my present life but will also be crucial in the future. This strength will act as the foundation for all my future endeavors and accomplishment of goals since I cannot accomplish anything without hope. Gratitude will help me develop a sense of contentment and appreciate every step I take towards achieving my goals. Creativity and open-mindedness will help develop innovation solutions and strategies towards health and well-being as well as achievement of life goals. The love of learning will be vital in achievement of academic goals and competent in my respective work responsibilities.
Development of Personal Psychological Strengths
Given the significance of my personal psychological strengths towards health and well-being in various aspects of life, it is important to develop them through various activities. One of the activities I will use to develop my personal psychological strengths is assimilative activities. This will involve establishing specific goals, performance standards, and desired projections in life and developing innovative ways to achieve them (Drucker, Csikszentmihalyi & Davidson, 2006, p.148). These assimilative activities will be based on personal and social concepts of the good life and include external rewards for motivation. Actually, I use rewards and punishment in order to motivate myself to achieve the goals of these assimilative activities. For instance, I will develop creative methods of exercising as part of promoting my health and well-being. This activity will be geared towards developing my strength of creativity and will incorporate rewards and punishment based on effectiveness of the process.
Secondly, I will engage in several play activities like rock-climbing, dance, and music composition as part of attempts to develop a sense of control over the environment. I will engage in these different play activities at least once a month based on their relationship with my personal psychological strengths. According to Csikszentmihalyi (2014), play activities enable an individual to experiment with repetitive behaviors in non-threatening situations and with minimal consequences for errors (p.134). Third, I will embark on character education based on my strengths through involvement in character development programs at school and/or work. These programs will help in development of my personal psychological strengths since they will provide insights regarding specific activities to carry out in everyday life (Park, 2009, p.46). The use of character development programs is because psychological strengths are developed through enhanced awareness and increased attention (Biswas-Diener, Kashdan & Minhas, 2011, p.106).
In conclusion, positive psychology is a new orientation in the field of psychology that provides a distinctive approach towards positive aspects of human life. To recap, this discipline focuses on human strengths because of its core components of positivity or positive emotions. First, a brief overview of the emergence and development of this discipline has been discussed, especially based on Martin Seligman’s initiatives. Secondly, the various classifications of personal psychological strengths have been discussed based on literature in positive psychology. Third, I have identified my personal psychological strengths i.e. hope, transcendence, creativity and open-mindedness, and love of learning through scoring on VIA Inventory of Strengths tools and talking to family and friends about my positive attributes and emotions. Fourth, these personal psychological strengths are beneficial in my future with regards to being optimistic and working towards realizing personal goals in academics and future life. Finally, these strengths will be developed through assimilative activities, play activities, and participation in character development programs.
Biswas-Diener, R., Kashdan, T.B. & Minhas, G. (2011, April 6). A Dynamic Approach to Psychological Strength Development and Intervention. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(2), 106-118.
Compton, W. & Hoffman, E. (2013). Positive psychology: the science of happiness and flourishing (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Flow and the foundations of positive psychology: the collected works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. New York, NY: Springer Science.
Drucker, P.F., Csikszentmihalyi, M. & Davidson, D.J. (2006). A life worth living: contributions to positive psychology. Madison Avenue, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Fredrickson, B.L. (2009). Positivity. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
Kobau et. al. (2011, August). Mental Health Promotion in Public Health: Perspectives and Strategies From Positive Psychology. American Journal of Public Health, 101(8), e1-e9.
Park, N. (2009). Building Strengths of Character: Keys to Positive Youth Development.
Reclaiming Journal, 18(2), 42-47.
Seligman et. al. (2005, August). Positive Psychology Progress — Empirical Validation of Interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421.
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