Have a very active left prefrontal lobe day
Kashdan notes "published studies that optimistic people live longer and that certain regions of the brains of positive people show more activity (“Have a very active left prefrontal lobe day,” he joked at one point)." The article goes on to note the popularity of such classes around the country, such as at Harvard where, with 855 students, the class is the most popular at that esteemed university.
What exactly do you learn in a class on happiness? One example comes from George Mason where:
Students were asked to do something that they were good at, be it writing, playing basketball or talking to their friends. According to positive psychology, your signature strengths play a special role in building your confidence and thus bringing you happiness.You are asked to identify your special strengths and then use those strengths to try something new.
This is not so different from churches getting folks to identify their gifts and then figure out how to use them. I know that at King of Peace we are better off not when someone takes on some task at the church because the church has a need, but when someone identifies their gifts and then figures out how to use those within the church or community. We are all better off when someone is doing what they are good at and love for the benefit of others, rather than doing something they have to do.
A Profound State of Well-being
The article describes this media-loving new corner of psychology saying
Positive psychology brings the same attention to positive emotions (happiness, pleasure, well-being) that clinical psychology has always paid to the negative ones (depression, anger, resentment). Psychoanalysis once promised to turn acute human misery into ordinary suffering; positive psychology promises to take mild human pleasure and turn it into a profound state of well-being.Wondering how you rate? Dr. Martin Seligman of Pennsylvania is a leading researcher who offers some questionaires at authentichappiness.org to help people assess themselves online.
OK. I know this is closer to the Gospel According to Oprah than to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but finding meaning in life through using your God-given talents to reach out to others sounds pretty solidly Christian to me, even if the way it is presented is more Oprahesque than usual. In fact, Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, says, “I guess I just wish it didn’t look so much like a religion.”
What do y'all think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor