International Day of Happiness

Today is the International Day of Happiness! As a gap year program whose philosophy is based on positive psychology theory, research, and practice, we would like to extend an invitation for you to help us celebrate!

You may be asking yourself, what does positive psychology have to do with happiness? Well, we have so many answers to that question!

Brief History of Positive Psychology: 

Positive psychology was termed by Dr Martin E. P. Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania. After many years as a clinical psychologist and the leading researcher of learned helplessness, Dr Seligman realized that there must be something to those who are never willing to give up and remain helpless. He wanted to know more about the people who display impenetrable resilience, gain and maintain success, happiness, and well-being, and undoubtedly lead flourishing lives. Long story short, he restructured his thought process and research focus and, thus, the field of positive psychology was born! 

Definition of Positive Psychology:

Positive psychology is the study of well-being, strengths, and flourishing lives. Positive psychology relies on empirical scientific research on the factors that allow people to be their best selves and to thrive. It is not a ‘be happy’ ‘think positively’ ‘ignore adversity’ option. It is understanding the journey of eudaimonic well-being. 

Eudaimonic well-being is an internalized happiness, fulfillment, and life satisfaction based on having meaning and purpose in life. Gaining eudaimonic well-being is gaining the best version of yourself. 

Now we’re heading for the full circle moment in this article! You see, it would be pretty difficult to find the best version of yourself and be fulfilled by your purpose in life without being happy. 

Ta Da! Happy International Day of Happiness!!!

At Point School Puerto Rico, we want just that for our young men. We want them to understand their strengths, find meaning in daily tasks, develop positive self-identities and, ultimately, gain a strong sense of eudaimonic well-being and happiness!

Q: How do we support this process towards eudaimonic well-being? 

A: Through our four intentional program components as followed.

Positive Self-Discovery Component:

We start by having all of our young men take the VIA Character Strengths Survey. This is a validated and reliable positive psychology survey used to help people become aware of and optimally use their core character strengths. Our Director of Well-Being helps our young men create short- and long-term goals around their top five character strengths in order to develop them for optimal use. Please see our website for more information: Strength Development

Cultural Immersion Component:

The young men at Point School Puerto Rico are asked to immerse themselves into the Puerto Rican culture. In Puerto Rico, we are on island time. We still need to accomplish our goals and tasks and fulfill our expectations but, generally, the sense of anxiety and urgency surrounding these situation is lessened. In Puerto Rico, there is time for mindfulness and reflection. We ask our young men to live in the moment, see the island, smell the salt water in the air, taste the authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, hear the waves and the music, and feel their genuine emotions and ideas. 

Island Activities Component:

Another way we support eudaimonic well-being is through activity. Mihay Csíkszentmihályi is the leading researcher on Flow Theory. What Flow Theory suggests is that you can experience the psychological state of flow by engaging in activities that demand total absorption of focus and control from the mind and body, resulting in a loss of self-consciousness. Flow cannot be reached by mere engagement in an enjoyable activity, but requires a balance between the amount of skill possessed by an individual and the amount of challenge presented by the activity. By engaging in island activities such as SCUBA diving, surfing, hiking, snorkeling, etc, we hope to ignite the flow experience allowing our young men to find competency, self-efficacy, and confidence surrounding these activity. 

Volunteer Component: 

Finding meaning and purpose in life is major contributor to experiencing eudaimonic well-being. So often, adults in our society become ‘stuck’ in mediocre jobs that don’t bring fulfillment or enjoyment. The young men who come to Point School Puerto Rico are often feeling directionless in regards to what they want to do with their professional and/or academic futures. It is our goal to provide them with volunteer opportunities that align with professional/academic interests or goals in order to give real-life experience in those fields a shot. We want all of our young men to find a direction for future employment that they can get excited about and draw intrinsic motivation from. We keep these experiences to a volunteer status because research suggests that the meaning you find in giving back and being helpful to your community is directly correlated to boosts in well-being.

Conclusion, finally:

Now, I would love to go on and on about the theory, research, and practice behind each of our components, but this blog is already too long! Only 10% of you have made it to this paragraph, and I thank you for sticking to it! 85% of you glanced through the subtitles. 5% of you opened this blog on accident or because you wanted to be able to say that you looked at it. I appreciate your attempts. Please be on the lookout for follow up blogs digging into the aforementioned details in each subtitle category!

And most importantly!!!

Happy International Day of Happiness! 

Please do something that brings you joy today. You deserve to have a smile on your face!

By Tracey Bachrach

Master of Applied Positive Psychology

Coordinator of Business Development at PSPR

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