Problem Solving and Positive Psychology

Last week’s workshops on ‘Solution based Problem Solving’ was very interesting, although someone asked me at the end of the Tuesday night session, how it relates to PERMA theory. There was a reason why I included this workshop in the course but following the buzz of the evening, I just couldn’t remember. But I knew I had a good reason for including it. Maybe it was just too late to think, but interestingly, the exercise was related to positive thinking in the sense of focusing on solutions rather than talking about problems.

Positive Psychology emerged from the scientific branch of Psychology and while it’s not explicitly political, science is inherently political when the research flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Politics has become very interesting in the past year. Movements like the Positive Psychology movement and the Emotional Intelligence movements have been gaining ground for years. Their aim is to understand human nature in order to improve life on the planet and to create better contexts for human development. In other words, these movements are about finding out what works for people. Philosophies can prescribe how we should live but science can tell us what works, and what works best in terms of well-being, and flourishing.

Cognitive psychology research tells us that we are fundamentally irrational if logic is used as the gold standard for rationality. This exposes a fundamental flaw in traditional thinking about human intelligence. At the core of human intelligence is the ability to creatively solve individual and social problems. The natural orientation of people is towards solutions and actions. We’re natural experimenters. We like to try things out to see what works best. Yet, despite our amazing freedom, we often feel powerless to solve the most fundamental of human problems, i.e. finding homes and jobs. Too many people find the rules are not stacked in their favour and their only recourse is to appeal to the authorities for mercy. These were two of the problems we focused on in the workshops. I will write more later about this…


Revised List of Topics for Positive Psychology

I’ve decided to keep the focus on Positive Psychology from week to week by organising the course around the five elements of well-being. I will, of course, include the four core topics: emotions, thinking, intelligence and personality. As this is a new course I will carefully monitor and evaluate how it goes from week to week and make adjustments where necessary. The first night in Rathmines went well with a focus on PERMA theory. However, it was just enough to become familiar with the core elements of PERMA theory, therefore I’ve decided to focus on each element in weeks 2, 4, and 6-8. Each element will be discussed in relation to one of the four topic areas of the course, for example, Positive Psychology will be explained in more detail in relation to the topics of ‘Emotions’ and ‘Emotional Intelligence’.

  1. Positive Psychology and Seligman’s Theory of Well-being – PERMA Theory
  2. Positive Emotions – emotions, emotional intelligence, well-being and flourishing
  3. Problem Solving – focus on solutions, make better choices – positive thinking
  4. Engagement – becoming immersed in activities; meditation and mindfulness
  5. Two theories of self – a) Karl Jung and the self and Ego; b) Cultural Psychology of Self
  6. Positive relationships – the relational self, character, love and belonging
  7. Meaning – being in the world, the rational mind, measured IQ, creativity
  8. Accomplishment – having a sense of achievement, having goals, achievable targets,