Positive Psychology for a Positive Life

Focus on, and grow the good by watering the positive.

by Michael Corthell

Previously I discussed pleasure seeking, and the minimizing of pain and suffering. In this section I'm going to address accentuating the positive or 'selective watering' of the good 'seeds' within us all.

For every insult I ignore, I grow three times in maturity. Every time I feel discouraged, I encourage myself three times. No matter what happens, I will continue to live and grow.

The chief 'illness' that afflicts most in western civilization is that we don't know how to handle the suffering inside us, and we try to cover that suffering up with all kinds of 'things'.

There are all sorts of new consumer goods to fill what has been called the 'God Hole'—that hole is an emptiness inside our souls that only God, our creator, can fill. The problem though, is that we, as a people, often ignore this hole or we attempt to fill it with things other than God.

Far too many of us spend our lives looking for something other than God to fill our longing for meaning. These things are material, not spiritual and eternal. The 'hole' can never be filled with material things, there will always be that 'want'.

''...You welcomed me as an honored guest. My cup is full and spilling over. Your goodness and mercy will be with me all my life... and I will live with You forever.''
Psalm 23, excerpted.

Unless we are present, in the moment, aware and mindful, we will not be able to face our suffering and deal with it positively, and consequently joy and happiness will continue to be hidden from us.

Using the garden as an analogy then...

There two gardens: yours alone and that of the rest of humanity. First, you have to tend your own garden and master the art. In every one of us there are beautiful plants with flowers and fruit. But there is also rot and decay. The 'rot' is the anger, fear, racism, jealousy and all the negatives within us.

Continuing the analogy, if you water the 'rot and garbage', you will strengthen and grow the negative seeds. If you water the flowers of kindness, compassion, true understanding, and love, you will strengthen those positive seeds. What you grow in side you is up to you and no one else. What you grown inside you will bear fruit, and the world, your family, friends and neighbors will know you by them.

"Deep in our consciousness there are many wholesome, positive seeds. If we know how to touch them and water them, they will manifest themselves on the upper level of our consciousness — the mind consciousness. We have to practice looking deeply to recognize our wonderful seeds — the seeds of mindfulness, enlightenment, understanding, joy, and loving kindness.''
― Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Relax


What is Positive Psychology?

This video was recently featured at the Western Positive Psychology Association Annual Conference and in the lobby of the Positive Psychology department at Penn State. (A "white board animation" sponsored by Test Prep Gurus)

Briefly: Positive Psychology
by Martin Seligman