Thomas A. Edison seems to be an endless source of witty quotes and quotable wisdom. I stumbled upon this one some days ago. Transfer his words from medicine to psychology (which practically did not exist at that time) and you get a near-perfect description of what Positive Psychology tries to accomplish in the realm of mental and emotional well-being.
In earlier posts, I´ve shared with you my personal feeling that Positive Psychology and the German language seem to be a bit of a mismatch, as my mother tongue is impoverished with respect to words describing positive experiences and states of being. Later on, I shared a study that is able to demonstrate that some languages are indeed happier than others – in that they are able to “hold” more positivity.
Today, I stumbled upon another piece of evidence pertaining to that matter. Below, you´ll see screenshots of the two most important translation websites in Germany. On the left, you can see the English words, a wide array positive states (of mind). On the right, the German translations are displayed. As you can see, all those English words are translated into the same German expression: Glück.
If Wittgenstein was right, and “The limits of my language means the limits of my world”, then having only a single word for what really should be a wide spectrum of words (corresponding to a wide spectrum of feelings) can be likened to being color-blind. It´s an impaired state of perception, or at least an impaired ability to convey one´s perceptions. And what good are emotions if they cannot be accurately named and shared?
Facebook has been gentle enough to remind of the fact that my graduation from Penn took place a year ago. If you´d like to know what were my take-aways right at the end of the MAPP program, please read this post: My Mind´s MAP(P).
Looking back with a bit of temporal, spatial, and mental distance, I am able to say that this experience has changed my life in basically all of its important facets. I am not going to tell that I am a “totally different person” or something like that – because it´s not true. But my deep-dive into Positive Psychology has transformed – to some extent – the way I live, lead and love on a very tangible level. I just do some things differently by being more open.
- I am more open to share the way I love and the way this brings vulnerability into my life.
- I am more open to accept and even embrace the other-ness of others, and at the same time, less open to accept those that try to subdue the diversity in all of our lives.
- I am more open to positive leadership approaches, trying to manage the (positive) energy of my team, and to foster self-determination – instead of relying on “command & control”.
I stumbled upon this quote yesterday and it struck me as very powerful. It beautifully conveys one of the central tenets of Positive Psychology (strengths-orientation and looking at “what´s right”) – and at the same time it could be a sort of “battle cry” for the Positive Education movement.
Unfortunately, I never had a chance to meet Chris Peterson in person. He died before I entered the MAPP program at Penn. But everyone I meet who knew him speaks very highly of him, highlighting his good nature and humor. I guess it comes alive again in his writing.
And it makes me (sort of) proud, that, while speaking about Positive Psychology at a conference in Munich some days ago, the photographer took a shot right in the moment where I talked about Chris Peterson´s signature line “Other People Matter“…
Picture source: Haufe Gruppe