Given the name and attitude of this very blog, and given I was a psych major in college, I was intrigued to see this article by Dennis J. Wright in today’s Mercury about Martin Seligman, the founder of the relatively new field of positive psychology. Seligman, who teaches and does research at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke at Ursinus on Tuesday.
It seems Seligman used to study “learned helplessness and depression,” fairly common stuff in a field that focuses on what’s wrong with people and how to fix them. His current emphasis on positivity, though, comes at happiness from the other end of the spectrum: find out what your strengths are and put them to work to ward off depression.
In this 2008 profile, Seligman said, “There are three levels to happiness: pleasure, the delight you get from chocolate, fast cars, and sex; engagement, the feeling of “flow” you get when you’re doing something you’re good at; and meaning, the fulfillment you get from being engaged in an effort greater than yourself.”
At Ursinus, Seligman talked about how to apply these principles in education, maintaining that happiness – or how to achieve a fulfilling life – can actually be taught.
Extending this concept to the community-level, I’d put out there that Pottstown itself is in the midst of figuring out what its strengths are, capitalizing on them and starting to feel the “flow.” Look no further than Citizens for Pottstown’s Revitalization and “Hip Places to Be Scene in Pottstown,” the latter of which should be releasing a new video any day now. I guarantee you’ll have no trouble smiling at that 🙂