What is Positive Psychology?

Well Being

The central core of our mission at Broadlawn is positive psychology. We like to say that everything we do is rooted in the princples and practice of it. Positive psychology has gained popular attention in the last several years but we find that many people still don’t seem to understand what it is. So, just exactly what is positive psychology?

Simply put, positive psychology is the study of human well-being and flourishing. Using science-based research and methodology, it tries to understand what makes life worth living–-what makes “the good life.” Rather than focusing on what’s wrong with people, positive psychology focuses on what’s right with people. 

In 1998, Dr. Martin Seligman, considered the father of positive psychology, challenged fellow psychologists to consider a radical shift for both practice and research to focus on the positive. Since then, positive psychology has grown and flourished, inspiring thousands of new studies and research on topics such as resilience, grit, mindfulness, character strengths, and positive emotions like gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love, among others.

In the early years of positive psychology, Dr. Christopher Peterson also played a critical role in the field of positive psychology. Peterson worked for many years on the study of optimism, and then went on to develop groundbreaking research on character strengths and virtues (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). Most pertinent to us at Broadlawn Farm, however, is Peterson’s overarching belief in altruistic motivation, and his often quoted idea summarizing positive psychology that: “Other people matter.” 

There couldn’t be a better time to introduce new ideas inspired by Peterson’s mantra, and that is what we hope to do here at Broadlawn Farm. Let’s gather, enjoy, experiment, and try to live most fully in our everyday lives to understand the best parts of humankind. Why do other people matter? What makes us happy? How do we experience flow? By asking these questions, we can expand people’s awareness of the strengths, capabilities and power already within all of us to excel and flourish.

Why does it matter?

The science of well-being and human flourishing is the key pillar of everything we do at Broadlawn Farm. While wellness describes a healthy lifestyle beyond acute illness, well-being encompasses broader holistic dimensions of a life well-lived. In simpler terms, we think of wellness as outcome oriented while working towards well-being is more process oriented. 

You’ve probably seen the quote “Life is a journey, not a destination” by Ralph Waldo Emerson? We love that.

Don’t get us wrong – any pursuit or goal moving towards wellness or well-being is a good thing, and the recent focus in the media and popular culture on gratitude, meditation and being well is only a positive. At the same time, we believe that much of the well-being study and interventions out there are too narrow and siloed. To work towards lives well-lived, we need to study and understand our whole lives more holistically.

With the science of positive psychology at the forefront, we hope broaden the pursuit of well-being to focus on the things that often get trivialized and overlooked in our daily lives–the thrill of seeing your favorite band in concert, a walk in nature, the therapeutic power of flowers, the buzz of a meadow at sunset, the taste of farm fresh eggs, a beautifully set table, a mysterious act of kindness. 

We think these seemingly small details are actually the things that make life worth living and deserve more study. They are also the kinds of things that can’t be studied in a classroom or university lab, or picked apart in a research article. You have to experience and live them, and that’s exactly what Broadlawn Farm is for.

What Isn’t Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is not self-help, which is scientifically untested. 

Instead, it is evidence-based, and therefore relies on and is backed in scientific principles, research, methodology and analysis.

Positive psychology is not about being positive or happy all the time. 

It’s about acknowledging that, as humans, we all have ups and downs and highs and lows, but we also have tools and ways to build hope, gratitude, awe, mindfulness and love in our lives to make them as full as possible.

Positive Psychology is not a trend and usually not something you can buy.

It’s a holistic approach to a life well-lived. Right now, it seems that the terms wellness and well-being are everywhere, and being used to sell all kinds of things, from skincare products and food, to yoga mats and vibrators (yep, you read that right).

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