Positive Psychology

Part A: Academic Report

Review the 40-minute podcast video “The Science of Change” by Dr Laurie Santos from the Happiness Lab (Yale University, United States of America) and Dr Maya Shankar who is an expert on behavioural change.

Essential Information for Review

In the podcast, Dr Santos highlighted that we tend to underestimate our psychological resilience in dealing with life challenges. The suggestion is that with cognitive reframing, journaling, and making sense of our life experiences with narratives, we will be able to change, grow, and achieve happiness. Resilience is the positive psychological capacity to rebound or bounce back from adversity, uncertainty, conflict or failure (Luthans, 2002).

Haglund et al. (2007) added that resilience is the ability to adapt and maintain psychological well-being in the face of adversity. Resilience is therefore a set of skills that can be learned.

The skill-building often comes from exposure to difficult or challenging times. How we manage the challenges in our life depends on our resilience toolbox. For some people, the toolbox is filled with drugs; for others it can be drinking, overeating, gambling or shopping.

These are not the tools to promote resilience and subjective well-being.
Dr Maya Shankar proposed that we adopt an exploratory framework of mind to deal with change and achieve happiness. She emphasised that humans are built for change and growth.

According to Dweck (2009, 2007), people who have the capacity to change and are more adaptive to new challenges, have a growth mindset. They believe that well-being can be achieved through increased effort and skills development.

In contrast, a person with a fixed mindset believes that their abilities are fixed traits and unchangeable (Yeager & Dweck, 2012). Thus, students with a fixed mindset, for example, tend to avoid challenges, quit when they encounter challenges, and ultimately achieve less academic success.

Conversely, students with a growth mindset are more likely to take on challenging tasks by trying new strategies or increasing effort, ultimately achieving greater academic success (Smiley et al., 2016).

A growth mindset has many benefits such as striving for more stretching goals, higher motivation and passion for learning, enhanced cognitive development across a broader range of tasks, lower stress and anxiety, better work relationships, and higher performance levels.

People with a growth mindset tend be grateful for their personal achievements and growth.  They know that they can change over time, and therefore they are more open to reflecting, learning, and growing from challenges. The setbacks are less threatening, and they are more willing to embrace life’s challenges as a learning opportunity to learn and grow throughout life.

Part B: Reflection

Transformative Life Experiences

Transformative experiences are gaining increasing attention in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. Transformative life experiences are experiences that fundamentally challenge and alter a person’s beliefs and values, affecting how we understand ourselves and our perspective of our life. A transformative experience empowers us to transcend our limitations and wakes us up to who we are. Some life experiences can generate profound and
long-lasting shifts in core beliefs and attitudes that shape our individual growth and psychological well-being.

Reflection Question

Reflect on your past two transformative life experiences and evaluate how you have managed to navigate these experiences to improve your subjective well-being. Apply the psychological principles of positive psychology to support your answer. Additional guidance