Positive Psychology is having an impact on our society; from individuals and groups keeping gratitude journals, the presence of enhanced goal setting in health environments, new directions in therapy and coaching, as well as working to bolster strong positive organizational cultures. It was in 1998, just over twenty years ago, that Martin Seligman built momentum for focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. His research focuses on the benefits and strategies of a fulfilled life rather than studying human pain and failure.
Positive Psychology places a great emphasis on the importance of optimism, of being positive, of helping everyday people find everyday happiness and meaning. Chris Peterson, at the University of Michigan, defined Positive Psychology as “the scientific study of what makes life worth living.” (2008)
“It is clear that Positive Psychology and
person-centered planning belong together.”
Person-centered planning and thinking took hold in the 1980s focusing primarily on persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Today it is also used to support people with mental illness, the elderly, and those with significant physical disabilities.
Person-centered planning has led to an increased quality of life for those who benefited from its practice, including having greater control over their lives.
Missing until now is the inclusion of powerful best practices from the scientific research of positive psychology. Correcting that omission is a new book from High Tide Press, A New Plan: Renewing the Promise of Person-Centered Planning, by Art Dykstra and Thane Dykstra, Ph.D., puts the science of well-being right at the very heart of person-centered planning.
“My Plan to Flourish,” their contemporary approach to person-centered planning, incorporates the six well-researched elements of well-being:
Positive Emotions: Feeling good is important. Positive emotions open us up, expand our awareness of the world, increase our options, and help us enjoy life more fully.
Engagement: Engagement occurs when we are totally absorbed in our work, music, hobby, or friendships. We know it’s occurring when time seems to fly by while we are participating in a given task or activity.
Relationships: Social connections and relationships are vital to our feelings of being alive. Other people do, in fact, matter. Research also indicates that focusing on the good in relationships, rather than the bad or negative, strengthens relationships over time.
Meaning: When we experience meaning, we feel that our lives have purpose. As Seligman has shared, meaning occurs when “we belong to and serve something that we believe is bigger than ourselves.”
Accomplishment: When we attain our goals, cross the finish line, or hit the target, we experience a satisfaction that is exhilarating-think crossing things off of your to-do list.
Health: This element refers to how a person is feeling health-wise, including energy levels and vitality. Having a healthy lifestyle that includes adequate rest is essential.
Co-author Art Dykstra asks, “Why do we do what we do? Clearly, it’s to help someone flourish in their lives, to live their best life possible. By incorporating the findings of positive psychology, we now have the well-tested knowledge to bring the practice of person-centered planning to a new level.”
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