Positivity- ‘Past, Present, and Future’

Hard to believe, but positivity started in Ancient Greece as philosophers Plato and Aristotle pondered the elements of what it meant to live a positive life. Through questioning what makes us happy or what a positive life would entail, these philosophers started the journey to understanding positivity.

Centuries later, in 1908, around the emergence of psychology, Abraham Maslow addressed the American Psychological Association, talking about positive psychology, feeling that professionals have not even scratched the surface of human potential. Psychologists during this period focused solely on treating abnormal conditions, not elevating the human status. From this, Division 32 was created, called humanistic psychology. This helped to renew interest in the positive components that enhance the human experience, conducting research utilizing the scientific method.

During the fifties and sixties, the United States was in turmoil. Demonstrations, fighting for civil rights, assassinations, and war plagued the nation. The pain and suffering were immense, causing the public to search for a way to heal. Every day, people looked to Eastern philosophies and practices, finding meditation, crystals, yoga, herbs, and connecting to nature. It was not only the hippies that were experimenting with the Eastern perspective but households everywhere looking for peace within the uncertain, changing world.

Professionals did not stop their pursuit of positivity. Although research continued, positive psychology broke barriers when Dr. Martin Seligman was elected to the American Psychological Association. On his platform, Dr. Seligman wanted to blend science and practice, promoting happiness and fuller lives, not just treating mental illness. Through this, positive psychology became a research power through studying topics like learned helplessness, resilience, optimism, and authentic happiness.

Besides active, positive psychology research centers throughout the world today, integrative medicine and mindfulness practices have come to the forefront, treating people with a holistic approach. Music therapy, animal-assisted therapy, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, dietary supplements, and massage are just a few techniques merged with Western medical practices. These interventions have gotten such positive attention that medical schools are now offering courses that may have been traditionally given at unregulated schools. Research has found that integrative therapeutic techniques can help patients with conditions such as chronic fatigue, pain, and cancer through managing their symptoms, positively improving their quality of life.

Positivity has a future, and although there is much sadness in our world today, we need to continue searching for treatments and interventions that can help. Biofeedback, neurofeedback, and virtual reality are just a few advances that researchers found positive impacts on well-being. Resilience in many areas of life, grit with perseverance, and mindsets are subjects that have jumped from purely academic research into our mainstream activities. As we continue to find positive aspects of media like acceptance of body image, inspiration, self-expression, and social skills development, more people can experience an elevation of self. Finally, once thought as only for the eccentric, mindfulness practices are now being explored for business and education, uplifting individuals in every aspect of their lives.

Positivity has a past, lives in our present, but it is in the endless possibilities of merging the mind, body, and soul that can offer humanity a better future.

By Staff Writer Carolyn Woodruff

Hard to believe, but positivity started in Ancient Greece as philosophers Plato and Aristotle pondered the elements of what it meant to live a positive life.

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