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Volume 79

Positive Psychology is promising policy for UTM students, faculty


Published (Volume 79, No. 9)


The recent Wednesday Forum consisted of in-depth positive psychology, presented by Dr. Jennifer Levy.

“Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive,” explained Levy.

Positive psychology is a field which is founded on the belief that people want to have meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work and play.

It has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions.

Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present and hope for the future.

Understanding positive individual traits consists of the study of the strengths and virtues, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, creativity, curiosity, self-control, and wisdom.

Understanding positive institutions entails the study of strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, work ethic, teamwork, and leadership.

An example of positive psychology that Levy used was a small child growing up in an abusive household.

She discussed in detail how one daughter would teach her siblings how to make the best out of a situation and realize to stand clear out of the presence of her parents when they had been drinking.

She then went into further detail explaining that the girl would tell her siblings to stay in the closet or hidden while the parents were arguing, if they had a drink of milk, water it down so their father would not notice it.

Then she explained while growing up how the girl would always want to change their lives because they did not want to see their children growing up in this kind of household.

Some goals of positive psychology are to build a science that
supports families and schools that allow children to flourish, workplaces to foster satisfaction and higher productivity, communities to encourage civic engagement, and teaching positive psychology.

Dr. Levy then gave a Web site, authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu where you can find a lot of quizzes and get feedback about positive psychology.