I read an article on the field of Positive Psychology this week and in a paragraph I found the word, “happiology”. I laughed out loud! Just reading the word made me happy.
The foundation of Positive Psychology is the understanding that positive mental health is not just the absence of mental illness. It’s the foundation of my work, this concept. Life isn’t about merely staying upright… it’s about thriving in a state of vitality.
Martin Seligman, one of the founding fathers of the field of Positive Psychology, tells us that it is all too commonplace to be in a so-called state of satisfactory health, and yet stuck languishing in life. He says positive mental health is a presence: the presence of positive emotion, the presence of engagement, the presence of meaning, the presence of good relationships, and the presence of accomplishment. Being in a state of mental health is not merely being disorder free; it is the presence of flourishing.
I want everyone to flourish! It’s not a concept for a select few, it’s within the reach of all of us. Settling for anything less is a waste of a damn good life. I never say “We only have one life, so do something with it you’ll be proud of” or “Life is short” or anything similar because my personal belief is that we reincarnate and take our life lessons with us into the next life. But this particular life, yes, is precious and to waste a minute of it languishing in stuckness, is a darn shame.
As a child I had an obsession with quick sand. It seemed every old campy western movie I watched had somebody falling into it. There were also images of it in old Tarzan movies, and every dinosaur movie featured the La Brea Tar Pits with some poor Mastadon wandering in and getting stuck. Horrifying! And once I actually stepped into a big dense mud patch and it sucked my shoe off and I screamed like it was a monster trying to eat me! My older brother rescued me, throwing me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, while laughing so hard he could hardly breathe. But looking back, it’s all so symbolic!
The fear was about stuckness! I was born with an aversion to it. I live my life trying to help people out of their self-made quicksand. Sometimes all it takes is somebody tossing you a little branch… and out you come, able to move those legs again.
I wish for you vitality. I wish for you a state of flourishing! I wish for no more quicksand.