Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Joy, Flow & Purpose

Positive psychology is described as the “study of ordinary human strengths and virtues” (Sheldon & King, 2001) 

There are three routes of study: each of which is skill-based and can be taught (Seligman, 2002). 

1.  The first is positive affect (emotions such as joy, pleasure, love) that fulfill hedonic needs for comfort. 

2.  The second route is enjoyment, also known as flow. These are states that completely envelop one’s attention and thinking. Flow is described as being lost in an activity, experiencing an altered sense of time, and using one’s strengths to meet a certain level of challenge (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). 

3.  The third distinct route is meaning, or a sense of purpose and connection with others (Seligman & Csickszentmihalyi, 2000). To pursue meaning is to understand and apply one’s strengths to something larger than the self. Meaning, unlike positive affect or enjoyments, cannot be fulfilled in trivial ways. 

Pursuing each of these distinct routes, referred to as the full life, is considered fundamental and ultimately more useful than vague definitions of happiness (Seligman & Csickszentmihalyi, 2000).

From "The Relationship Between College Student Success and Well Being Determinants: An exploratory study of measures," a dissertation by Mark D Shishim.

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