The Art (and Application) of Positive Psychology

Are you thinking, “Huh?”
Do I have your attention with a blog title like that?
I hope so.
This is a good one.

The first keynote at the Indie Author Conference was Daniel Lerner, renowned speaker, author, and consultant. Someone we all need in our band. He spoke energetically about Positive Psychology–where success and happiness coexist.

Successfully passionate and passionately successful. 

He opened with examples of successful, unhappy people vs. successful, happy people.
Steve Jobs vs. Richard Branson
Kanye West vs. Maya Angelou
These four folks are wildly famous, popular, and wealthy. But two of them struggle(d) with their passion, while two embrace(d) it.

He referenced Bob Knight, a winning and volatile basketball coach, who penned a book titled, The Power of Negative Thinking. Successful, sure. But happy? How much enjoyment could he possibly be deriving from his accomplishments with an attitude like that?

Passion – noun, intense desire or enthusiasm for something.

Lerner says there are two ways to pursue your passions:
Harmonious Passion – Drives you to do it because you love it.
Obsessive Passion – Do it for others, for glory, to prove yourself.

He charted the outcomes of the different passions:
Harmonious vs. Obsessive
Feel more fulfilled/More negative emotions
Pride in effort/Shame of failure
Experience increased engagement/Self-destructive behaviors
Better relationships/Isolation
Trustworthy/No one wants to play with you
Both have an EQUAL likelihood of Mastery!

Lerner told a wonderful story about his own young son and how he loved gymnastics. LOVED. With harmonious passion, he couldn’t wait for practice, exploration of exercise, challenge of competition. He won tons of awards and progressed quickly up the ranks, competing against kids who had more experience and still he won. And then it became laborious. He became obsessive. If he made a mistake, he beat himself up. If he didn’t win, he felt like a failure. With the benefit of attentive parents, the child’s passion was redirected. It took time and patience. Working through many an emotional outbreak–obsessive passion often trumps common sense–he was able to rediscover a harmonious passion with balance of gymnastics and a newfound love of live theater. At a young age, he was able to learn the building blocks of a lifelong lesson.

Lerner shared his son’s story because he knew we could all relate. We’ve all loved something SO MUCH only to have it eventually become a burden or challenge beyond enjoyment. It’s natural to take it too far, it happens, but it’s never too late to recognize where it went off track and reel it back in.

Why are you passionate? How does your passion conform you?

You can be happier and more fulfilled.
Positive psychology.
Think about it.

About Mary Fran Says

I am an artist, crafter, designer and writer. I enjoy working with mixed media-- applying visual and tactile manipulations to telling a story. Not a lot of market for that, though, :), so I'm focusing on short story submissions and novel completions. Yes, plural. Lots of beginnings, too many ideas, not enough focus.
This entry was posted in It's all about me, It's all about You and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Art (and Application) of Positive Psychology


    Great blog!!! I think I had forgotten his words. Thanks for reminding me. Timely!!!



  2. Pingback: Our Thing | Mary Lamphere

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