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Positive Psychology-- Promising a Better Humanity

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I spent Saturday through Tuesday at the International Positive Psychology Association congress. It took until the very end to realize that my first work in the field was in 1981-- that makes 30 years. And back then, the term Positive Psychology didn't exist.

Positive Psychology aims to explore the positive aspects of being human-- happiness, well-being, compassion, awe, kindness, love, civility-- and it uses some languaging, like savoring, elevation, broaden and build, eudaemonia.

This is exciting work. There have been trillions spent on the negative aspects of being human, hate, war, anger, greed-- so it's good that now there is a rapidly growing field that seeks to understand the psychology, neurobiology and underpinnings of what is good about people.

There are games being created based on the research, theories of what make good movies based on it, school programs built from the ground up with positive psychology principles.

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Research shows that when people learn the skills that positive psychology has identified as worth learning, people feel better, are healthier and may even live longer-- and certainly happier lives. They show more compassion, take action and help others. One researcher, Robert Vallerand, explored the idea of passion-- proposing that there are two kinds-- obsessive, which can be unhealthy, and harmonious passion, which can actually enhance well-being and health.

Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been doing and directing research inspired by his relationship with the Dalai Lama.
From commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rajesh_Kasturirangan_at_Mind_and_Life.jpg: Rajesh Kasturirangan at Mind and Life
Rajesh Kasturirangan at Mind and Life
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He's studied Tibetan Buddhist monks who have engaged in at least 10,000 hours, and an average of 34,000 hours of Loving Kindness meditation. He and his team have identified the parts of the brain that light up when the monks achieve higher states of consciousness. The goal of the mediation is to generate a state in which love and compassion permeate the whole mind.

Davidson concludes, "Compassion, kindness, mindfulness, and other related characteristics are best viewed as products of trainable skills. Mental training to enhance these skills changes the brain and body.

After his lecture, I asked Davidson, who I first met in 1979, about an interest of mine, the heartwarming experience-- when you have glow or warm feeling in your heart. That phenomenon was what set off my interest in positive psychology 30 years ago. He speculated that these monks who spend tens of thousands of hours practicing loving kindness meditation may be in an almost permanent state like the heartwarming experience.

The exciting thing is, his lab has shown that it doesn't take 10 or 20 or 30,000 hours to learn enough loving kindness meditation skills to make and feel a difference.

There were hundreds of reports, presentation, papers, posters, panels and workshops at the congress. This article gives a tiny sampling.

To see some of my earlier writings on positive psychology, see my website www.PositivePsychology.net

 

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob Kall's Bottom Up Radio Show: Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

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