Alex Coiov, XII A
That life is tortuous is indubitable. With its deepest troughs and sky-high peaks, life presents an intricate tapestry of experiences; yet, so impenetrable are these experiences that we oftentimes feel utterly disoriented within the incessant maze of our mere existence. Our lives do not constitute objective truths but rather subjective experiences. What if humans could harness this subjectivity, utilising it as a tool for personal growth? Rec ognising that life is all but objective opens up myriad possibilities for individuals to navigate their existence more intentionally.
Positive psychology contends that this subjective perspective represents the key to fostering well-being and unlocking individuals’ full potential. Humans are inherently pessimistic: every day, an average person has approximately 60,000 thoughts, 75% of which are negative. The positive-psychology philosophy emphasises the paramountcy of focusing on strengths and virtues rather than letting that 75% rule our lives. Instead of highlighting life’s everyday conundrum, positive psychology advocates for a shift in focus towards the upsides of life, arguing that cultivating a positive outlook can have a transformative impact on an individual's psychological and physiological state. Essentially, do not obsess over the bleak 75%, succumbing to the overwhelming negativity that intrinsically pervades our human thoughts; instead, make the most of the uplifting 25%, striving to employ it to the fullest.
In my view, the greatest criticism of this theory is that it is easier said than done. Certainly, constantly hushing your negative thoughts and embracing a positive outlook in the face of daily challenges are no simple tasks. The peculiar complexities of human emotions, external pressures, and the mercurial nature of life can make maintaining a positive perspective an indubitably daunting endeavour. We cannot invariably maintain an ebullient façade and delusionally pretend that we have no worries or difficulties whatsoever.
Yet, I somewhat agree that cultivating a cheerful outlook can genuinely have a transformative impact on an individual's mental state. I contend that the power of positive thinking lies not in denying the existence of personal travails or in suppressing negative emotions but in how this positive outlook shapes our responses to adversity. By thoroughly embracing a positive perspective, individuals may be more inclined to seek substantive solutions, find meaning in adversity, and approach seemingly insuperable difficulties with resilience.
Indeed, positive psychology can constitute a tool for reframing setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. Besides, positive psychology’s prodigious emphasis on strengths and virtues prompts individuals to identify and successfully leverage their personal assets, be they talents, social skills or other inherent qualities. Capitalising on strengths (instead of incessantly obsessing over weaknesses, a natural part of being human) can promote a stronger sense of empowerment, essentially fostering a positive feedback loop whereby confidence and optimism reinforce more confidence and optimism.
Indeed, when we think we are good at something, we are more likely to invest the resources necessary to achieve said thing. Even more, we are actually more likely to even start pursuing said goal in the first place. Essentially, we are confident that we will succeed, so it will all be worth it in the end, despite the occasional yet expectable blips intrinsic to the journey. When we ultimately accomplish the goal in question, we will consequently have a better opinion of ourselves and be more willing to pursue similar aspirations in the future because we have already done something similar once, and “everything turned out just fine.” Therefore, personal development will promote even more personal development, hence the positive feedback loop.
Nonetheless, it is unequivocal that having a positive outlook on life is easier said than done. Yet, this positive-psychology approach incontrovertibly remains a worthwhile endeavour that can culminate into sustained personal development. Indeed, embracing positivity does not imply a dismissal of life's complexities but rather a conscious choice to engage in a different manner with such intricacies by generally maintaining an optimistic perspective. By acknowledging the inherent subjectivity of human behaviour, positive psychology tries to use this subjectivity as a catalyst for personal growth. This perspective, albeit challenging, can be a handy and unorthodox agent of change, serving as a valuable compass in the turbulent sea of human experience.