Positive Approach

Positive Assumptions

We all have free will - We are in charge of our emotions and we have the free will to change how we direct them. We are self-directing and adaptive. Seligman suggested that happiness is not due to genes or good luck, but a result of ignoring negativity, recognising signature strengths and working on these strengths to develop our lives to make it better. 

Example in psychology - Myers & Diener, who supports the work of free will, conducted research into why people are happy as well as the factors that increase happiness. Diener & Seligman studied the ties that students had with family/friends and measured the time that they invested into these relationships. Findings show that students who had the strongest ties to family and friends were happier - a negative correlation was established between levels of happiness and depression. This shows that we are in control of our happiness and can make the choice to engage in actviites that make us happier. 

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Positive Assumptions

Authenticity of excellence & goodness - It is assumed that feelings of happiness and goodness are asnatural as feelings of anxiety and stress and so psychologists need to give these positive states of midn equal attention. Seligman poitned out an issue in psychology: positive states of mind like virtue and happiness are seen as less authentic than negative states of mind like anxiety and depression. The aim of the positive approach is to change the negative states of mind of the positive. 
Seligman believes that we all have inherited traits 'signature strengths' like kindness, generousity and humour which we need to nurture in order to have transformed lives. 

Example in psychology - Positive therapies focus on the authenticity of both anxiety and happiness. Rather than trying to fix what is wrong, the positive therapist will facilitate a positive well-being to achieve fulfilment. This approach offers a different way to alleviate illnessess such as depression by focusing on traits that produce goodness and excellence and helping people to understand that these traits should be developed further. 

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Positive Assumptions

Focus on the good life - This assumption focuses on the good life and factors that contribute to a well-lived life. Seligman distinguished between 3 desirable lives:
THE PLEASANT LIFE  - Happiness comes from pursuing positive emotions in relation to the past, present and future
THE GOOD LIFE - Happiness comes from pursuing activities that positively absorb and engage
THE MEANINGFUL LIFE - Happiness comes from a deep sense of fulfilment by living for a purpose greater than one self

Example in psychology - In order to achieve a good life, we must develop these virtues. These natural routes to gratification will help us function in times of difficulty. For example:
Positive connections to others - our ability to love, trust, enjoy happiness, forgive and develop spirital connections
Positive individual traits - personal traits like morality, creativity integrity and courage
Life regulation qualities - these are qualities we must regulate, monitor; we must also control our behaviour to accomplish goals such as independence, wisdom and faith

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Positive - Relationship Formation

Authenticity of goodness and excellence - According to the positive approach, we are socially programmed to find and build relationships with others. The positive approach suggests that feelings of love, kindness, generosity and forgiveness and other positive qualities are authentic. In entering into and maintaining a relationship allows people to express/develop their 'signature strengths.' In return, positive relationships can contribute substantially to happiness. 

The good life - Posiitve psychology argues that we strive towards a good life, which is a place of work, happiness and good relationships. Seligman suggests that one element to the good life is 'positive connection to others.' This can explain relationship formationas positive connections with others enable us to love, trust, enjoy happiness and forgive. 
In addition, Seligman suggested that happiness and the good life comes from pursuing activities that positively absorb and engage us. For many people, social and romantic relationships as well as relationships with family, can help us achieve this. Research shows that those in relationships are happier than those who are not. Some psychologists from the PEW Research centre claimed that marraige is the most single reliable indicator of happiness; it was reported that 43% of married participants were very happy compared to a 24% of unmarried participants. 

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How the positive assumptions apply to Mindfulness?

Free will - The positive approach believes that we are all in charge of our emotions and how they do not control us but we control them. Happiness is not a result of genes or luck but a result of ignoring negativity and recognising our strengths and working on them in order to imporve our lives. A central practice to mindfulness involves becoming consciously aware of present thougthts and feelings. By focusing on the present, we gain a greater awareness of negative thoughts or less helful thoughts. Mindfulness aims to encourage people to gain control of their thoughts and emotions by developing more productive attitudes and control the amount of time spent thinking about negative things. 
Authenticity of excellence & goodness - The positive approach believes that feelings of happiness and goodness are just as natural as anxiety and stress and that positive human traits are authentic. Mindfulness aims to enhance a person's positive characteristics (optimism) by encouraging them to develop their core strengths and virtues such as optimism, flexibility and gratitude. This leads to a greater well-being. 
The good life - The good life is a primary focus of this approach and refers to factors that contribute to a well-lived life. Happiness comes from pursuing positive emotions by doing activities that engage and absorb us; this develops our strengths and virtues. Mindfulness aims to enhance a person's posiitve characteristics (spirituality) which encourages them to develop their core strengths and virtues which leads to a greater well-being. 

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Positive - Main Components of Mindfulness

Intro - Mindfulness began in ancient Buddisht practice; it is a way of tecahing people to control their own mind by paying attention to, and increasing, their awareness of their present thoughts. Although mindfulness may sound like an obvious solution, it is viewed that our minds are often on auto-pilot and too focused on the past or the futire. 

Gaining control of thoughts - Being mindful trains us to focus on our present thoughts and emotions only. Usually, our minds are too focused on the past, such as a bad relationship, or too busy thinking about the future and as a result, of automatically thinking on the negative, this can lead to depression. The purpose of mindfulness is to help the individual notice this negativity and change their reactions through reflection. Becoming more aware of the present moment can involve noticing sights, smells, sounds and tastes that you experience and the thoughts and feelings that occur in the present. Mindfulness can help us to enjoy the world more and understand ourselves better. 

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Positive - Main Components of Mindfulness

Meditation and mindful breathing - The art of meditation is a key aspect of mindfulness. An example of formal meditation training is sitting meditation; this is the most effective for develoing mindfulness skills as it physically removes the individual from their daily interactions, so that they can easily focus the mind. Meditation is usually learnt through a mixture of guided instructions and personal practice. Guided meditation involves getting the client to sit in a comfortable position where the spine is straight and their attention is on the breathing. After this, they will be encouraged to pay attention to their body sensations, thoughts and emotions. This method can prevent unhelpful negative thoughts from intruding. Meditation helps people to reprocess their internal experiences and help them to accept that thoughts or emotions are not permanent. In this, the individual learns not to react automatically to their thoughts. 

Informal practices of mindfulness - Once mindfulness is learnt, it can be applied into our everyday activites. Informal practices is the opposite of mutli-tasking and the emphasis is placed on making a conscious decision to focus on one single task. This practice also involves paying attention to the surroundings, for example, listening to the sound of the water in the shower. In going about our daily lives, we should find new ways to notice the sensations of things and the food we eat. Although this sounds small, this can interrupt the 'autopilot' mode we often engage in, giving us a new perspective on life. These practices can be incooperated into our daily life to give us a break from our normal thought processes. 

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Effectiveness of Mindfulness (with other therapies

Mindfulness & CBT - The techniques of mindfulness are rapidly becoming incooperated into other therapies such as psychoanalysis and CBT, offering a new perspective in therapy. Traditional methods of CBT has tried to change people's irrational thoughts and beliefs whereas mindfulness based CBT involves changing the thinking process rather than just the content of our thoughts. 

Mindfulness & CT - MBCT has been used to help prevent patients who suffer a relapse of recurrent depression. Teasdale et al evaluated the effectiveness of MBCT with 145 recently depressed patients. Patients were randomly allocated to receive treatments as usual (TAU) or TAU plus 8 classes of MBCT. It was found that MBCT provided the greatest help to those who had suffered to most number of previous episodes. Although MBCT did not affect those who had suffered 2 episodes of depression, it reduced the risk of relapse of those who had 3 or more. 

 

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Effectiveness of Mindfulness (with other therapies

Mindfulness & Stress-reduction - MBSR has been used in general hospitals with patients suffering from painful, chronic, disabling or terminal conditions. Reibelet et al reported that MBSR decreased anxiety and depression levels in 136 patients, who participated in an 8 week mindfulness programme, involving 20 minutes of meditation each day. The results were seen in a 1 year follow up = high external reliability. 

Group vs individual mindfulness - Evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation is more effective in a group setting, especially psychology problems. Mantzios & Giannou investigated group verses individual mindfulness amongst 170 participants trying to lsoe weight, who were randomly allocated to practice this in a group or individual. It was found that those in the group setting lost more weight and lowered their levels of cognitive behaviour avoidance. It was concluded that meditation should be used with caution in individual practice. 

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Ethical issues in Mindfulness (No ethical issues)

Mindfulness and morality - Those who practice mindfuless are able to maintain moral and ethical standards. For this reason, mindfulness is being taught in organisations to enhance leadership skills, due to the decision makig required in mindfulness. Rugdy & Schweitzerff demonstrated how individuals who used mindfulness were able to uphold ethical standards such as moral identity. Basically, improving our state of mind through mindfulness will result in us becoming more moral in many aspects of life. 

Positive approach is ethical - Unlike other therapies such as psychoanalysis (like dream analysis), mindfulness does not involve bringing up past experiences in order to offer an explanation for present day behaviour, thus avoiding anxiety. It does not say that current issues are caused by past events but rather, has believes we have free will; this is positive for the individual. In addition, it does not focus on changing the thinking process like CBT does, which is less frustrating for the client. CBT may cause the patient to deel guilty about their thought processes where mindfulness teaches the clients acceptance. 

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Strengths of the positive approach

Strength 1 - "It believes we all have free will" (unlike other approaches) - For example, this approach is based on the idea that behaviour is not pre-determined and that huamns are self-regulating. Ultimately, we have the free will to grow/develop authentic strengths and virtues. 
This is a strength because by having control over our authentic strengths means we have control over our mental health and well-being; this leads to happiness and contentment in our lives.

Strength 2 - "It has a shift in focus" - For example, traditionally, psychology has focused on mental disorders and the negative states of mind. The primary goal of this approach is to change this practice by focusing on the good life instead of focusing on mental health and enlarging the worse. 
This is a strength as it makes raised awareness that a happy life is possible when we shift our focus from negative to positive. Developing authentic strengths and virtues (love and wisdom) will help us to function in difficult times. 

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Weaknesses of the positive approach

Weakness 1 - "It ignores individual and cultural differences" - For example, this approach is ethnocentric and only based upon Western ideas of individual fulfilment. American culture has preoccupied ideas on positive thoughts, attitudes and emotions needed for a good life. Negative emotions are generally considered as something we should avoid or control. 
This is a weakness because there is a danger of assuming that all positive qualities are beneficial and should be universally developed. Defensive pessimists deal with anxiety by thinking of everything that could go wrong - in processing this realistic possibilities, defensive pessimists work harder to avoid these anticipated situations. 

Weakness 2 - "Can happiness be measured scientifically?" - For example, happiness is subjective to individuals and so someone asked about their happiness could be referring to two completely different states of mind. Therefore, defing happiness has proved to be difficult because everyone has a different idea about what happiness means to them. 
This is a weakness because it means it is difficult to measure happiness and develop scientific measures for a subjective state of mind. 

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Positive - Apply the assumptions to a variety of b

We all have free will

Authenticity of excellence & goodness

The good life

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