“I think we are our memories more than we are the sum total of our experiences.”
—Martin Seligman, psychologist and writer
In the last five years, a whole new field has developed in the world of psychological research. It is the study of positive psychology. While that may sound like something New Age or “soft” in the annals of research study and outcomes, it is in fact becoming very important in trying to figure out how the global population can cooperate and work together for the greater good of all.
A study of positive emotion, character and institutions by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi in 2000 included data from around the world and over time. From the studies of the ancient Greeks to the Psychology departments in today’s universities, the conclusions turned out to be the same. Scientific evidence verifies long-held beliefs—key strengths in the optimistic personality are linked to life satisfaction in regard to a life well lived and are a high index of self-esteem and good mental health. In addition to individual influence, there is a great impact on the world culture when these principles and strengths are applied to leaders and learners.
A 2005 Time magazine cover story, “The New Science of Happiness,” featured Seligman and highlighted eight simple steps to lift your level of happiness, based on the research of psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky:
Count your blessings.
Practice acts of kindness.
Savor life’s joys.
Thank a mentor.
Learn to forgive.
Invest time and energy in friends and family.
Take care of your body.
Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships.
Look for additional information and scientific investigation of the phenomenon of positive psychology in an upcoming article I wrote for the International Council on Active Aging’s Journal of Active Aging. (A link on the Touchmark Web site will be available following publication.)