The way psychologists were taught to think
I suspect that the most interesting concept in positive psychology, if you are a psychologist, is the relationship between the past, the present, and the future.
Our training is based predominantly on on linear models. We are trained to think that if we are X today, we will be Y tomorrow. Most of our tuition taught us to define and measure X’s and Y’s and took for granted that today and tomorrow are independent.
The way psychologists will be taught to think
Positive psychology is based on recursive models. The past does not predict the future; it is part of the future. Mathematically, we predict the value of X in the future, rather than the value of Y in the future.
Is the future a separate place?
David Whyte’s Midlife and the Great Unknown begins by addressing the relationship between future, present and past. To feel well, to feel vital, to feel alive, we need to be active, to be acting our future in the context of the present. In other words, always to be doing now what we want for the future, without the future being a separate place.
Everyone’s story is unique
I particularly like David Whyte’s idea that we are all unique – well of course we know that, but do we act that way? Do we look at all our relationships with people, with events, with places and even with things and see a unique story that is unfolding and interesting in itself?
Mindfulness as experiencing being present
Related is the concept of mindfulness – to be fully present in events, not to experience their beauty or their ghastliness (ghastliness is real) but to experience being present.
It is a hard concept for we psychologists!