In the early 90's psychologist and professor Dr. Martin Seligman highlighted that the state of psychology was 'not good enough'. As a diseased state model, psychology appeared transfixed with mental illness, ignoring the third tenet of psychology which focuses on the positive side of human thinking, feeling and behaving. The neglect to improve normal lives, make relatively untroubled people happy, more fulfilled and more productive was conspicuously obvious. In the rush to repair damage, it never occurred to psychologists to develop interventions that contribute to making people happier.
3 Aims of Positive Psychology
Psychology should be:
Just as concerned with human strength as it is with weakness.
As interested in building the best things in life as it is in repairing the worst.
Just as concerned as making the lives of 'normal' people fulfilling and in nurturing high talent as with healing pathology.
When we explore the definition of mental health, the World Health Organisation offers this:
"A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community."
So it's safe to assume that mental health is about building our mental wealth. Cultivating our well-being builds mental wealth and involves intentional activities that place 'deposits' into our personal well-being 'accounts' ~ which include the off-set accounts of psychological, social and physical well-being. Boosting personal levels of well-being also leads to elevations in motivation, performance and happiness. Research further indicates that the higher our levels of well-being, the more resilient we are.
According to Harvard Business Review, building your potential entails "taking a very personal look at how you define success in your heart of hearts and then finding your path to get there". Life will throw its' usual curve balls as you advance, but it's how you both perceive and respond to these challenges that truly establishes your potential.
So with mental health awareness month in full-swing, ask yourself what you are doing to make deposits into your well-being accounts AND are you developing your potential with deep sense of capability and contentment?
Kirsten works with individuals, teams and organisations through initiatives in performance and well-being and developing human potential. Get in touch with her today to see what you're truly capable of.
Mguni, N., Bacon, N., & Brown, J. F. (2012). The wellbeing and resilience paradox. The Young Foundation, London.