Researching Personal Strengths for Creating Positive Lives and Environments: An International Perspective

Vanessa M. Sinclair, Anita Feher, Claire Anne Wilson, Gabriela Topa, Donald H. Saklofske

Abstract


In today’s world, we face a barrage of difficulties in multiple life spheres. While previous times were not without their challenges, these were often restricted to our own personal, geographically localized worlds. Today, news and social media expose us to never-ending reports of traumatic events and interpersonal violence, making us question human nature and our resiliency. Increasing technological advancements have brought forth new challenges, not only in our relationships with technology, but in how we live our daily lives. Financial uncertainty at both the individual and global level raises doubts about our abilities to afford basic necessities. Climate change is wreaking havoc on the environments we call home. Changing interpersonal dynamics present new challenges to personal, social, and group relationships, often resulting in conflict or isolation. Adolescents and young adults are thrust into this confusing world, often lacking the proper resources to understand and cope with these challenges. Adults facing life’s demands also experience extreme stress, with adverse consequences both at the present as well as later life in the form of physical and mental health issues. Furthermore, we have a tendency to direct attention to our individual weaknesses, exacerbating our experience of difficulties. It is, therefore, no wonder that psychology as a discipline, which seeks to understand the human experience, tends to focus on the deficiencies in our lives. However, as stated by Sheldon and King (2001), it is important for psychologists to deviate from this ‘negative bias’, and instead concentrate on positive human qualities and the promotion of what Maslow (1943, 1987) termed growth needs. This focus is the crux of positive psychology.

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5944/ap.15.2.24319

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