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Great Movie Ride Marquee

Here Be Growth

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: Sam Howzit
And then there’s the rest of the story – positive feelings as marquees for growth opportunities…

Herein lies the likely reason for feelings.  Just as negative feelings are a “here-be-dragons” sensory system that alarms you, telling you unmistakably that you are in a win-lose encounter, the feeling part of positive emotion is also sensory.

Positive feeling is a neon “here-be-growth” marquee that tells you that a potential win-win encounter is at hand… Positive feelings about a person or an object get us to approach it, while negative feelings get us to avoid it.

— Martin Seligman

I admit:  When I’m feeling positive I’m usually so happy to be happy, so caught up in the joy of the moment, that I may be missing the “here be growth” message – and as a consequence, missing an opportunity to approach and explore new paths. This is one of those déjà-vu-all-over-again moments for me because last year about this time, in my post Waiting in the Wings, I wrote “we are surrounded by resources that are simply ‘waiting in the wings’ to become our possibilities.  Life is very much about recognizing opportunity and making the most of any moment.” Now I get it: Positive emotions are resources waiting in the wings…

Living a Life Worth Living

More than one scientist seems to be telling us to pay more attention to the emotions in our lives so we can leverage them for our own growth and development:

If our aim is to live a “life worth living” then we need to use all available tools, not just the ones in the top of the tool box. It pays to dig deeper, to find the right tool for the task at hand. Think of it this way: negative emotions are survival tools; positive emotions are flourishing tools.

— Lisa Jacobson, MAPP

So what is this thing called “flourishing”?  Well, here’s what the dictionary has to say about flourishing:


Grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, esp. as the result of a particularly favorable environment.  Develop rapidly and successfully.


Sounds good to me.  You?

And, for the record, here’s what the positive psychology scientists have to say about flourishing:

…“well-being” or “flourishing,” [is] a concept that Dr. Seligman has borrowed for the title of his new book, [amazon-product text=”Flourish” type=”text”]1439190763[/amazon-product].  He has also created his own acronym, PERMA, for what he defines as the five crucial elements of well-being, each pursued for its own sake:

  • Positive emotion
  • Engagement (the feeling of being lost in a task)
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

“Well-being cannot exist just in your own head,” he writes. “Well-being is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships and accomplishment.”


Lighting Our Lives with Win-Win Encounters

Ta-da!  Positive emotion, the marquee of win-win’s, is the first of Seligman’s five PERMA elements.  I’m guessing that if we pay more attention to our positive emotions, they would nudge us towards the other four PERMAs: engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment.

So, here’s a plan: for the next several days, let’s seek out all the “potential win-win encounters” that come our way by paying attention to our positive feelings and noticing who or what we might approach… let’s open ourselves to those “here-be-growth” marquees and see what happens!

And then, let’s integrate our discoveries with more of Seligman’s advice:

Dr. Seligman recommends looking at the basic elements [PERMA] of well-being, identifying which ones matter most to you, setting goals and monitoring progress. Simply keeping track of how much time you spend daily pursuing each goal can make a difference, he says, because it’s easy to see discrepancies between your goals and what you do.

What win-win possibilities might you discover if you paid more attention to your positive emotions?

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