Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths, characteristics and actions that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is initiated on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, and to cultivate what is best within themselves.
According to its founder, Dr Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania), positive psychology is the science of “flourishing” and the study of “wellbeing.”
‘Flourishing’ focuses on building upon the strengths of the individual to build the resilience to overcome challenges and enhance wellbeing. The capacity to work from one’s strengths creates better, stronger and more positive relationships between and within individuals, families and communities.
‘Wellbeing’ is not a one-dimensional idea but a multifaceted construct composed of different elements. Wellbeing is sometimes used interchangeably with the word ‘happiness’. In positive psychology, ‘happiness’ is one of the components of well-being, rather than the only consideration. Wellbeing is more than the absence of ill-being. It is something over and above not suffering.
The PERMA model of wellbeing posits that there are five well-being indicators:
- Positive Emotion
We can measure each of these elements and get an overall reading of wellbeing. The levels of any of the elements of PERMA are not predetermined for any individual or organization. Each of them can be built, and this is the aim of Humanship in Lebanon: to build the elements of PERMA in individuals, in organizations and across the country.
The Benefits of Well-Being
Compared to people with low well-being, individuals with higher levels of well-being:
- Are more cooperative
- Have fewer sleep problems
- Have lower levels of burnout
- Have greater self-control
- Have better self-regulation and coping abilities
- Perform better at work
- Have more satisfying relationships
- Have stronger immune systems
- Have better physical health
- Live longer
- Have reduced cardiovascular mortality
- Are more prosocial
Implications for Public Policy
Wellbeing is a new frontier for modern societies. It is a new way to understand the links between the individual and community with a new set of tools to build a healthy and active modern society. The application of positive psychology in organisations is the beginning of a culture change "a change to a more human-centred society where people and relationships matter more".
The science of well-being also has important implications for policy decisions by governments and other organisations.
Humanship aims to build wellbeing across Lebanon, with a particular focus on young people in schools and universities. This project will require two broad, interdependent strategies:
- Measuring wellbeing across the population
- Teaching, building and embedding wellbeing in schools, workplaces and other settings.