Positive psychology approaches human thoughts, feelings, and behaviour by focusing on strengths instead of weaknesses, by choosing to be grateful for the good in life instead of complaining about the bad, and by improving the lives of average people in an effort to make them “great” instead of merely making those who are struggling reach “normal” (Peterson, 2008). According to Martin Seligman, acknowledged as its founding father, positive psychology is ‘the study of what constitutes the pleasant life, the engaged life, and the meaningful life’. Positive psychology is rooted in optimism and gratitude as the essence of life, a perspective that can create incredible change and growth in anyone, no matter how bad things might seem.
We are all different, and this difference makes us who we are. Genetics, upbringing, life experiences, preferences and dislikes, choices. All of these factors make sure that there is not another person in this world who is exactly like us. Just as we are all united by our similarities, we are all also set apart and made special by our very own attributes and idiosyncrasies.
No matter who we are or where we come from, how old we are or what we’ve been through, as human beings, we are all subject to stress. No one is exempt. But the good news is that we can all learn to manage this stress. Being a student is especially difficult, having to switch back and forth from online to physical lessons and having to be isolated at times – all these can take their toll on our psychological wellbeing. But the good news is that we have the potential to take charge of this stress and overcome it. All we have to do is decide that we won’t become victims to our stress, and ask for help.
In this millennium, no one is spared from the power of technology and the worldwide Web. Teenagers, in particular, are especially vulnerable to the charms and pull of technology and the digital media. So much so that it has become an addiction to many, and an addiction that isn’t at all welcome especially in the family context. Digital addicts make unattractive company, with their with their eyes and fingers always straying to their devices, the majority of teenage media addicts choose virtual interactions over human ones. Because teenagers are on the verge of developing into adults who will eventually go out into the world to live and work, there is an immediate urgency to curb this addiction to digital devices and social media, or risk them becoming socially inept adults who are lost in real, physical society.
Children begin learning from their parents at birth, and move on to learning from their peers as they begin school and socialising. Because children are vulnerable and easily influenced, they often fall into the trap of following the crowd, no matter how their prior education and instincts tell them that they do not want to follow. This happens to everyone. Peer pressure has always been around, and it will probably always be, as a psychological phenomenon. Although peer pressure can be positive, for example, a slacker student feeling the urge to do better to be as good as his or her peers, more often than not, it is negative and detrimental. By its very definition, peer pressure is a negative feeling and experience that forces someone to be or do something that is alien to him or her. Parents and other elders should monitor changes in moods and behaviour to curb peer pressure in children and young people, because it could potentially lead to self-harm and even suicide when it becomes overwhelmingly unbearable.
Aging is an inevitable part of life. As a person progresses from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and then to geriatrics, they might often experience midlife crises. In a nutshell, a midlife crisis is the need to feel young again. Just as the colours of the leaves on a tree change with the seasons, people’s feelings and needs change with age. Not all midlife crises are negative, although many who go through them are deemed to desire some sort of compensation for the aging process. At the end of the day, a person going through a midlife crisis just needs to be able to feel whole, to feel worthy, to feel validated again.