By: Julie Zaruba Fountaine
Wellness Coordinator, College of St. Scholastica
What comes to mind when you think of happiness? A yellow smiley face? The feeling of warmth when thinking about a dear friend or family member? Watching a beautiful sunset? What if you could learn to incorporate more happiness into your life? What would that mean for your relationships, your work life, and your personal life? Most of us would say we would like to increase our happiness but what does that mean?
Happiness is the state of contentment and well-being. It is our human nature that encourages us to seek happiness. What if instead of seeking happiness you could cultivate it? The concept of positive psychology helps us to cultivate happiness by utilizing evidence-based practices.
Knowing what positive psychology is not can be just as helpful as knowing what positive psychology is. Positive psychology is not about being happy all the time, it is about not suffering all of the time. Positive psychology is an empirical, science-backed field founded by Martin Seligman. Martin studied traditional psychology for several decades until he realized the system was flawed. He wanted to understand why psychologists did not study what makes people happy. Seligman started the first set of research experiments at the University of Pennsylvania to find out what makes people flourish. What he discovered is optimism is a characteristic people can learn. People flourish when we practice gratitude, meditation, and positive communication in relationships. A recent meta-analysis involving over 200 experiments in positive psychology concludes that practicing happiness improves our lives in all areas including health, relationships, work, spirituality, and achieving lofty goals.
If you want to learn more come to the ATD presentation, Happy Hour: An Introduction to Positive Psychology on April 17th. During the presentation you will be introduced to the field of positive psychology, the happiness equation, and learn how to cultivate positive emotions. The hour will be an interactive session where you can develop the skills you need to increase your level of happiness.