This week I am continuing my new thought stream re-visiting Positive Psychology. I studied this topic at the University of East London when I attended the first European based Positive Psychology Masters Degree.
One of the things I love about Positive Psychology is the idea that we can focus on what is right with people rather than what is wrong with them. When Psychology was first developed as a field it did look at the “whole” range of human experience both the healthy and the troubled. At some point in our history, probably around the time of the First World War the focus shifted to the issue of “what is wrong with people”.
It could be argued that the Self-actualisation movement, Humanistic Psychology and others still looked at both ends of the spectrum however when Positive Psychology was first suggested as a distinction it captured the public imagination.
One idea worth exploring is the idea of “Strengths”. Many people are keen to tell you their weaknesses particularly when reviewing things they have done. Have you noticed how many people are extremely self-critical?
What if we instead focused on our Strengths and how we can harness them, In Positive Psychology this is a topic explored by people like Martin Seligman, Alex Linley and others. It is possible to take a questionnaire that ranks a set of strengths to give you your top five.
When I took this test I was not surprised to find that “Love of learning” was my number one strength. It probably explains why I am forever signing up for a new course and learning a new skill.
This weekend I’m learning wildlife photography. As I sat in class yesterday I noticed how content I was to be learning. I haven’t been on a course recently so it was interesting to notice that I’d missed it. My favourite learning style is in the classroom with others so although I can and do learn from other medium it was being in the classroom that really captured my imagination.
I found taking the various strengths questionnaires I have participated in during my Positive Psychology degree interesting and they gave me a place to start in reflecting on my own strengths. However I do wonder if choosing from a list is a little limiting.
What do you consider your strengths to be? Do you know intuitively?
If you are not sure here is a link to one of the questionnaires I took. This one is free and your results will be used for research purposes.
Let me know how you get on and we’ll talk more about strengths next week.