Positive emotions

This afternoon I finished reading Barbara Frederickson’s delightful and utilitarian book, Positivism. I am glad I did. Here’s a glimpse of what she (and I) believe in:

Frederickson is rare among psychologists for sharing what to do about downers while dispensing great advice on what to do for uppers. She was forced to look at both sides because balancing uppers and downers in at least a 3:1 ratio is her success formula. It is so, so simple. It is elegant. I plan to spend a lot of time with this book.

Reflecting back on my recent intellectual journey of three months of reading and research, I realize I’d become a zealot for applying positive psychology.  Every nail looked like disenchanted, unhappy people and I had the positive psychology hammer in my back pocket to solve all ills.  Frederickson helped me snap out of that and appreciate how much more is out there.

What had hooked me into looking down too narrow a tube was Marty Seligman.  I probably would not be alive today were it not for his Learned Helplessness helping lift the gloom of depression from my shoulders. Unlike the helpless dog who doesn’t realize the glass atop his box has been removed and never hops out, Marty shows how to break the imaginary glass we thought was covering our own boxes. Marty and I have only met once; he wouldn’t remember. I feel kinship because we were both Princeton undergrads in the mid sixties.

When I finished Marty’s Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, I tried to sell all my friends on the concept that happiness is a choice. A few made the right decision. I put it on the back burner.

Flourish rekindled my interest in the field known now universally known as positive psychology. I’ll be writing more about Marty’s findings and how to apply them in the enterprise. But now, back to Barbara Frederickson.

Barbara and Marty are friends. She was at the birthing ceremony of the positive psychology movement. They are fellow pioneers. Positivism didn’t so much knock Marty off his pedestal as lead me to put Barbara right by his side. I expect to continue to learn from both of these visionaries. The two have different ways of looking at things and they are both absolutely right.

Anyone game for a Google Hangout to talk about this in the next few days?



Leave a Reply