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POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY. The Full Life (Seligman, 2002) The Pleasant Life: Pleasure & Positive Emotion The Good Life: Flow & Engagement Meaningful Life: Meaning & Purpose.

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positive psychology
  • The Full Life (Seligman, 2002)
    • The Pleasant Life: Pleasure & Positive Emotion
    • The Good Life: Flow & Engagement
    • Meaningful Life: Meaning & Purpose

Proposal #1: Broaden & Build Model of Positive Emotion – “…positive emotions broaden (rather than narrow) an individual’s thought-action repertoire…In turn, these broadened thought-action repertoires can have the often incidental effect of building an individual’s personal resources, including physical resources, intellectual resources, and social resources” (Fredrickson, 1998, p. 315). Specifically, positive emotions may broaden the scope of attention, cognitions (more unusual, flexible, creative, & receptive thinking), and action (more unusual & varied) (Fredrickson, 1998; Fredrickson et al., 2000).


Proposal #2: The Undoing Hypothesis (Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998; Fredrickson et al., 2000) – positive emotions may “undo” the lingering effects of negative emotions Theorists have proposed that many negative emotions have evolved from life-threatening situations (win-lose). They narrow our thought-action repertoires by calling for specific action tendencies (Anger = urge to attack; Fear = urge to escape). These action tendencies narrow our thoughts to specific urges & ready the body for action. Certain negative emotions, then, result in cardiovascular reactivity, which if prolonged could place one at higher risk for coronary heart disease. Experiencing positive emotions may result in a faster return to activation levels better suited for a wider range of cognitive & behavioral response options (more flexible thinking & action).


Proposal #3: Flow (Csikszentmihaly, 1990) – one becomes totally absorbed in what one is doing” (Jackson & Csikszentmilhaly, p. 5). The nine distinguishing characteristics of flow are: challenge-skill balance, action-awareness merging, clear goals, unambiguous & immediate feedback, concentration on task at hand, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, transformation of time, & autotelic experience. Examine the challenge-skill quadrants on the next slide.


Proposal #4: The Good Life (Seligman, 2002) – If individuals re-craft their lives (school, work, relationships, & play) in a way that allows them to use their signature strengths (authentichappiness.com - Via Strengths Survey) more frequently, this will produce more flow (engagement) in their lives.


Proposal #5: The Meaningful Life (Seligman, 2002) – If individuals utilize their signature strengths in service of something larger than themselves (the larger the more meaning), they will enhance the meaning of their lives. The meaningful life is the largest contributor to the full life (happy, satisfied, engaged etc.).


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York:

Harper & Row.

Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General

Psychology, 2(3), 300 - 319.

Fredrickson, B. L., & Levenson, R. W. (1998). Positive emotions speed recovery from

cardiovascular sequelae of negative emotions. Cognitions and Emotion, 12, 191 –


Fredrickson, B. L., Mancuso, R. A., Branigan, C., & Tugade, M. M. (2000). The undoing

effect of positive emotions. Motivation and Emotion, 24(4), 237 – 258.

Jackson, S., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Flow in sports: The keys to optimal

experiences andperformances. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Seligman, M. E. (2002). Authentic Happiness. New York: Free Press.