Flickers

The flames are dancing in the wood stove, sending little flickers of light and shadow around the room. I can hear the clock ticking over my left shoulder, marking the seconds as they go by. It’s dark outside, and overcast. There’s no moonlight. The coyotes who have been chattering every night for weeks have gone … Continue reading Flickers

On Love

Anne Herbert, in an essay titled “Handy Tips on How to Behave at the Death of the World” writes, “Falling in love has always been a bit too much to apply to one person.  Falling in love is appropriate for now, to love all these things which are about to leave. The rocks are watching, … Continue reading On Love

Writing The Ending

Researcher James Pennebaker writes, “Emotional unheavals touch every part of our lives.  You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are – our financial situation, our relationships with others,  our views of ourselves…writing helps us focus and organize the experience.” When I lost my … Continue reading Writing The Ending

Glittering Mica

Yesterday evening it was my spouse’s turn to put our child to bed, so I snuck down to the lake and hauled our huge, green Old Town canoe over to the dock, determined to get a little time on the water after a long day of computer-based activities and schlepping around town.  It’s not an … Continue reading Glittering Mica

The Dark Side of Positive Psychology

I have been a wellness coach for almost exactly 10 years. And along the way, I have gotten thoroughly immersed in positive psychology.  Which, if you didn’t know, is a fairly new field of study typically said to be pioneered by Dr. Martin Seligman in the late 1990s.  It’s all about reaping the benefits that can be had from focusing on the good in life, and where you want to go in the future, rather than on unpacking all the stuff that has happened in the past as more traditional psychology models tend to encourage.  I’ve see it work for plenty of individuals over the years – there’s a lot of benefit to placing your focus on what you do well already and the good things that you want to bring into being.

Right now I’m reading a book called America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks.  Midway through the book, Dr. James Coyne, in an interview with author Ruth Whippman, shared the name of a lecture he was to be giving the following week.  It was “Positive psychology is for rich white people.”

In my work as a coach, I recommend ‘practicing gratitude’ on a regular basis, regularly help people take ownership of their choices, and often encourage calling out the positives in life while staying present in the moments as they unfold.  These strategies have made a difference for many of the folks I have worked with, so I know positive psychology has plenty of benefits.

Plenty of benefits IF you were born into privilege.   Continue reading “The Dark Side of Positive Psychology”