Applied Positive Psychology: Enabling Communities to Thrive
Nov Rattan Sharma
Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, Haryana
Abstract Psychology is the study of individual and group behaviour patterns. There are large numbers of recognized divisions which focus on the subject matter of psychology, specifically in a particularistic manner. However, psychology has shown satisfactory progress in almost every domain of life, but the current emphasis of psychology is on positive psychology which has emerged as a very significant discipline of knowledge. It has successfully endorsed its attendance in almost every sphere of science. Positive psychology has been accepted as an authentic and effective commander of living well at every stage of life. It seems that positive psychology has the potential to lead the entire humanity in the direction of a meaningful life. In fact, tenets of positive psychology seem to be the closest to the basic essence of Indian philosophy. Therefore, one may find the roots of modern positive psychology in the ancient Indian philosophy. There are sufficient empirical evidences which demonstrate that pillar concepts of positive psychology are significantly contributing to the development of virtues and strengths in the individual as well as communities. The scientific body of knowledge credited to positive psychology further reinforces social and community psychologists to apply principles of positive psychology in different forms of communities for enabling them to thrive and flourish rapidly as well as successfully. Sizable researches here in India and abroad have been initiated in the recent past to carry out these applications at individual, group, family, school, society and work organization levels. The concept such as positive schooling, positive parenting, positive psychological capital and positive business organizations are in the testing stage around the globe. Research indices yielded so far clearly indicate that people in general and communities in particular may be empowered in such a way that maximum realization on their part can be achieved. This chapter will critically examine the associations and impact of positive psychology-based interventions on the functioning of communities.
In most Indian and foreign universities psychology was part and parcel of the Philosophy Department, and it was the hard work and visionary wisdom of some philosophers who advocated that psychology has the potential to be developed as an independent discipline of knowledge. But the basic question was to determine the nature, scope and methodology of psychology. There is an evolutionary history of psychology, where you may find its roots, however, in the present chapter, the author has no intention to elaborate on the long past of psychology but at the same time he has all intentions to mention that due to its early affiliation to philosophy, the nature, scope and methodology of psychology are bound to be affected by its mother discipline. The definition of psychology itself crossed different viewpoints before it reached the state of general acceptance. Readers are aware that in the beginning psychology was considered as the study of soul/mind/consciousness, etc. However, the scientific bent of the then philosophers’ mind was not satisfied. Rather, the viewpoints to explain psychology as study of soul/mind/consciousness were rejected on one or two basic grounds. Psychologists failed to demonstrate these concepts and more so there was no scientific methodology to measure them. However, for some time such concepts floated in the field without proper investigation. Many schools at different locations across the world were also trying to define psychology from their own point of view. Structuralism, Functionalism, Behaviourism, Psychoanalysis and Gestalt being the major schools of psychology forwarded their considered opinion and put forward the same along with the scope and methodology of psychology. The three primary questions—(i) what is psychology? (ii) what is the subject matter of psychology? and, (iii) what is the most suitable methodology of psychology?—raised at that time, were very simple in nature but at the same time the most difficult to answer amicably. The efforts and words invested in to answer these questions were assembled, critically evaluated and discussed at various platforms across the globe. Psychologists swiftly acted to sort out differences and pick up the similarities. The final picture about the nature of psychology, which emerged largely, was the study of human behaviour.
However, psychology at its first stage was neutral, neither positive nor negative. Scope of psychology was around the behaviour, that is, normal and abnormal behaviour, behaviour across different age groups and study of those biopsychosocial factors that affect the behaviour of the organism. The proposed methodology for the study of behaviour had to be scientific and therefore, observation method was considered to be the most suitable to study behaviour.
In view of its neutrality, psychology travelled a long journey where role of various schools of psychology also became non-existent. In the beginning, research works undertaken at different laboratories was also of a very primary kind, however, it gathered momentum to create a variety of researches from the pure to the applied kind. Large number of divisions also came into existence to take care of diversified fields of psychology. The expansion also proved helpful in the identification of currented psycho-social and educational needs of mankind. Very soon, psychologists started realizing that unless they converted their pure researches into the applications of psychology, particularly for the welfare of the organism, the real objective of psychology as a science would remain unachieved. This thinking resulted in the development of many more applied branches of psychology and ‘positive psychology’ is one among this series. The American Psychologist devoted its millennial issue to the field of positive psychology with a clear indication on the three goals—(i) study of positive emotions; (ii) study of positive character; and (iii) study of positive institutions. Seligman and Csikszentmihaly (2000) highlighted the need and importance of the emergence of this science of positive psychology. This shifting was in contrast to the earlier approach of psychology where focus was on the negative side of life using concepts like depression, anxiety and trauma. However, the paradigm shift from the negative to the positive side of life is not very old but has resulted in revolutionary changes in the mindset of modern researchers of social sciences in general and of psychology in particular. The positive psychology perspective is wholesome for making good life possible by fulfilling the lives of common people, helping them in preventing illness and also enhancing psychological as well as overall health. The recognition of positive emotions in life further created a research domain where current researches have demonstrated that positive emotions may be used as an energy bank to combat the prevailing negative feelings. Positive emotions like love, affection, kindness, etc., are like major human life values. It is well said that there is no life without human values. More so, love is the under current of almost every positive emotion and human value that give power to each value to function and grow.
Similarly, positive character is another milestone concept of positive psychology recognized and put for testing in laboratory. However, talking about the positive character was the focus of traditional moral philosophy and religion but contemporary positive psychology has also entered in its scientific assessment as well as promotion. The values in action (VIA), classification of that strength that make the good life possible are the major objectives of many research projects around the world. As per Value in Action Institute (VIA), there are six core virtues, namely, wisdom and knowledge; courage; humanity; justice; temperance and transcendence and 24 positive traits/strengths under these six virtues. However, a final word on it is expected after exhaustive empirical validation (Peterson and Seligman, 2004.) The third pillar of positive psychology is the study of positive institutions. The significance of institution, let it be family or school or an organization or a small or large workplace, has been reconstructed with the concept of positive institutions. It provides ample importance to those issues and concepts which facilitate democratic and mutual strong bindings amongst its members which further help in supporting the first two concerns of positive psychology. The scope of positive psychology is increasing day by day and more and more research is being taken up on its core concepts. The best part with positive psychology is its methodology. It is just like a scientific revolution and sizable empirical data has been gathered with scientific procedures to validate and revalidate the significance of the tenets of positive psychology.
Psychology of today is positive. Majority of its research projects directly or indirectly show some associations with positive psychology. However, it is also true that positive psychology of today seems to be strongly correlated with the age-old concepts of Indian philosophy. That is why we can see the linkage amongst traditional moral philosophy, religious acts and the principles of positive psychology. There is an academic as well as professional pressure on almost every branch of knowledge to have a strong applied connection. In order to ease out the pressure, there is a trend of upcoming courses in the fields such as Applied Physics, Applied Mathematics and Applied Psychology. In psychology itself, the prevalence of courses like applied social psychology and applied positive psychology is not uncommon. The emphasis on such courses is much higher than their respective pure courses because of the need of the hour. For example, scope of positive psychology, that is, its pure branch has included the new concepts such as resilience, flow, happiness, gratitude, forgiveness and life satisfaction for the understanding of their meaning, nature and study. In applied positive psychology, these concepts are not only studied and assessed but their applications are also adjudged. There are researches which are monitoring these applications in different areas particularly in some restricted areas for example, health, well-being, making life good, that too at individual as well as group levels. It is beyond the scope of the present chapter to enumerate these issues; however, author is making an effort to assimilate these issues under the following three major sectors: (a) living (b) schooling and (c) working.
Since birth to death, development is an integral part of the human life. Man, being a social organism, affects others and gets affected by others. Personality make up of a child also comes across different developmental stages and family traditions and ritual systems provide adequate background for his/her socialization. Formation of self image and identity also get shaped during adolescence. Most of the time an adolescent is either at home with parents and siblings or at school with teachers and peer group members, therefore, both the places, that is, home and school are the most crucial determinants of behaviour domain of this age group. However, home and school factors have been the significant subject matter of research but emergence of positive psychology has changed the impetus of recent investigations. Positive parenting and positive schooling are the current outcome of applied positive psychology, where social scientists have successfully demonstrated skill development training programme pertaining to home and school targeting desirable results. Same is true for an adult, when he/she approaches the workplace. The physical structure of an organization, interpersonal relationship among co-workers and communication between employee and employer directly influence the wellness of the entire unit. The concept like positive psychological capital is worth mentioning to highlight the importance of workplace. In other words, enabling these three units of communities that is, home, school and organization will go a long way to justify the objectives of applied positive psychology.
An individual is the smallest building unit of a group/family. Family is the foundation stone of a society, rather, individuals living together make a family and families living together make a community. It means that individual, family and community are inseparable. More so, family system of behaviour constitutes the individual system of personality, likewise community system determines the family system. However, a sick system may lead to faulty interactions amongst members resulting in stress as well as mental health problems, whereas, a healthy system will create and facilitate an atmosphere of wellness and facilitate a feel of good life for each other. Unfortunately, most of the times families and communities are recognized for narrow gains such as solemnizing marriage, showing voting behavior and meeting favourable means. The above restricted meanings of the communities are not to the tune of applied positive psychology. In view of the psychosomatic nature of many diseases, the underlying role of families and communities need to be maximized. The interdependence and interplay between organism and organizations including family and community do not allow the researcher to compartmentalize these three identified sectors (living, schooling and working) into distinct independent divisions. With due recognition of this fact, author is making an effort to enlist the need to enable the community at large.
It has been widely recognized that the basic nature of human being is not only to help others but also to extend the self to others for collaboration in working to design as well as achieve common, larger and even super-ordinate goals including having faith and trust in members of the group. In view of the transpersonal (beyond self) urge of humans, community group approach get its expected impetus. Not only this, by enabling the self and then institutions like family, school and organizations, all their members may also approach towards success and accomplishment in almost every field of life. However, the impact of community approach has been widely and broadly noticed in the area of health. The high medical cost and non-availability of sufficient medical and para-medical staff in health sector are another two compelling limiting factors for a country like India. Therefore, India and all other nations need to empower their citizens and institutions to achieve the goal of ‘health for all’. In psychology, the development of the branch on community health psychology is the most fitted remedy for many kinds of broad spectrum illnesses because there is an agreement now that the most humane and economical way to maintain, guard and even enhance the overall health and well-being of an individual, family and large groups is only through prevention. These days, health professionals have also realized that positive thoughts may also act as preventive vaccine. The purpose of individualist and collective approach remains to sensitize, build up and apply preventive measures. The community level of analysis and collective action in identifying the health barriers and psycho-social mediation in respect to local circumstances were the key issues in determining the potential role of partnership in creating healthy organizations.
The community approach may be further given a shape of effective tool while creating and implementing social policies. Tripathi and Sinha (2013) have observed that psychologists have been given a very little role in framing policies particularly in the domains of education and public health at macro as well as micro levels. They have further emphasized that psychological knowledge may play a vital role in the process of decision making leading to national development. The research contributions by social scientists at national and international levels have significantly highlighted that small steps may result in big outcomes if implemented strategically by enabling people and institutions in a single go. Therefore, the three units of the stakeholders are to be taken in mixed order for empirical verification and validation. Some of the researches supervised and undertaken by the author are summarized in this chapter.
Hooda and Sharma (2007) recognized that recently health has secured more optimistic and positive definition and it can be described along a continuum with illness and wellness. In view of the multidimensional state of health, researchers advocate holistic approach to health with a harmonious balance among its different domains. However, there are some psychological factors, for example, intelligence which may influence holistic health. Some studies were conducted where different domains of positive health were systematically investigated in relation to general intelligence, emotional intelligence (Hooda, Sharma and Yadava, 2008, 2011a) and social intelligence (Hooda, Sharma and Yadava, 2009, 2013). On the basis of the investigation conducted on three hundred working adults, it was observed that there is a significant negative association between general intelligence and positive health indices. In other words, very high level of intelligence is not necessary for good positive health. On the other hand, emotional intelligence and social intelligence were the key associates of positive health. General health, happiness, satisfaction with life, spirituality and life orientation were found to be associated at significant levels with the sub scales of emotional intelligence and social intelligence (Hooda, Sharma and Yadava, 2011b). Most remarkably, appraisal of negative as well as positive emotions, the indicators of emotional intelligence, was observed as the significant predictor of positive health. Interpersonal skills and flexibility, another component of emotional intelligence, was positively associated with happiness and life satisfaction. Patience also contributed towards the prediction of positive health. In case of social intelligence, the factors which significantly accounted for positive health to a large extent are sense of humour and memory. It was observed that the ability to create and enjoy humour not only helps in the development of positive health but also creates a feel good atmosphere around oneself to maintain it even in adverse circumstances. The overall findings support the view that irrespective of age, gender and marital status it is rather more important to be emotionally as well as socially connected to self and others (Hooda, Sharma, and Yadava, 2010, 2011c). It further strengthens that enabling the individuals and their group/community at emotional and social constructs creates an atmosphere of cooperation and care which may further develop the feeling of wellness.
Tuyet and Sharma (2008) conducted a study where 100 participants were selected from Vipassana meditation (VM) training groups. VM is one of the most ancient Indian techniques of meditation. Buddha discovered this method and put it in practice as a remedy for the universal ills. During the period of Buddha, large number of people in India were seeking its training and also got freedom from the bounds of sufferings by its practice. Even the literature of that time hinted that people practicing Vipassana used to attain high levels of achievements in almost every sphere of life. The participants of VM groups were compared with the non-vipassana meditation group. More so, this comparison was mostly focused on health parameters and before and after procedure was used to check the health status at two occasions. Mainly four domains of health, that are physical (heart rate and blood pressure), psychological (happiness, subjective well-being, anger expression), social and spiritual, were put for investigation before Vipassana and after the Vipassana meditation training camp. It was evident from the findings of the study that blood pressure (diastolic and systolic) and heart rate of the participant before and after VM occasions were statistically different. It also means that VM significantly reduced the heart rate and blood pressure levels of the participants to normal. In case of psychological health, VM greatly enhanced happiness and well-being status, and reduced negative feelings and anger levels. At the same time social and spiritual component of health also got noticeable enhancement after attending the camp of Vipassana meditation. In sum, all the different domains of health are linked and VM affects almost every domain. As reported by the investigator, practice of Vipassana relaxes the body, makes the mind happy and peaceful, creates sociability and generates the meaning in life. The result of this overall harmonious effect is not only the optimal functioning of bodily organs but also change in attitude of the participants towards self and others. The change towards positivism further increases the value of peace and harmony in life which undoubtedly contribute to social and community development. The findings recommend that courses/camps on Vipassana meditation may be organized regularly at learning, living and working places. Such programmes may also be legitimately conducted in tune with other community health awareness camps to strengthen preventive module of health.
Modern life style violated many basic principles of health and people pay little attention on what and when to eat; where and how one lives and how one thinks. As per our old system of medicine (Ayurveda), there are four fundamental principles of life style—ahara (food), vihar (recreation), achara (routine) and vichara (thinking). In order to stay healthy, these four principals should be given proper attention. Even modern medicine system recognizes the importance of life style. A healthy life style decreases the chances of falling sick where as unhealthy life style not only aggravates diseases like hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer and asthma but also creates conditions prone to general illness. Although, there is a cluster of life style diseases, this concept in itself is rather diffused. Since life style included the way people live and reflect social values, attitudes and cultural patterns of socialization, they are learnt through interactions between self and significant others (Menon and Kennedy, 2004).
Sangwan and Sharma (2009) conducted a study to investigate the role of lifestyle among hypertensive, diabetics, asthmatics and normal people. A sample of 400 subjects participated in the study with 100 respondents in each of the four groups. The findings of the study successfully demonstrated the role of life style in all three disease groups; life style of the hypertensive was found to be the worst. It implies that unhealthy life style with faulty behavioural patterns and life long personal habits may lead to hypertension. However, life style indicators of diabetics and asthmatics were also not healthy in comparison to the normals but hypertensive individuals remained the most vulnerable culprits of unhealthy life styles. As reported earlier, life style is a learnt phenomena and a resultant effect of social and cultural activities. It implies that health education disseminated in small or large family/community groups on life style diseases will not only create a dent on the spread of these diseases but also help in the development of healthy life style among new generation.
Another major bottleneck in healthy and happy communities is the aggression among adolescents. You may find aged people blaming young generation on account of lack of tolerance and patience, increased level of anger and hostility and immediate gratification of needs. The clash between young adolescents and their parents or grand parents is not uncommon. There is a felt need to train the youngsters and teenagers for their unnecessary and unhealthy out bursts in their living, schooling and playing premises. Pankaj and Sharma (2012) made sincere efforts in the investigation on the assessment and management of adolescents’ anger. However, anger is a natural emotion expressed by every human but its expression may take various forms, for example, sober, mild or even a full blown rage. It may trigger many physiological, behavioural and cognitive effects. Therefore, assessment and management of adolescents’ anger is the primary duty of social scientists. Even when anger is a natural emotion with functional survival value, there are right and wrong ways to deal with the angry moments and it can become the source of many kinds of physical, mental, emotional, social and even legal problems if not managed adequately. Five hundred adolescents studying in different public schools of the national capital region were put for the assessment of their anger. In the first phase, only assessment of anger was done; and, in the second phase of study, only those students participated whose anger levels were found to be above the third quartile. The investigator designed some anger management strategies and the same were used either in single or in the combination of two. The obtained results indicated that anger if managed satisfactorily may even enhance subjective well-being of the students and the enhanced well-being status may further promote their scholastic and personal achievements. The results have demonstrated a strong linkage between anger expression and other health parameters, where anger control builds up healthiness and expression causes detrimental effects on health. Researchers compared the three (psychological, yogic and physiological) intervention procedures of anger management. However, all the three intervention programmes not only significantly reduced the anger level of the high anger groups but also psychological as well as yogic procedures yielded maximum benefits (Pankaj and Sharma, 2012). It implies that by creating psycho-educative technique and yoga, anger and its bad effects may be restrained. Managing anger may also act as a preventive medicine in communities and in this way self and institutions may be empowered.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the major public health concern being the number one cause of death worldwide. It has become the largest killer in developed countries, also rapidly becoming one in developing countries. India, like many other developing countries, is facing an enormous health concern. Once upon a time, curative health care used to be the major focus of doctors and health professionals. Individuals too were only concerned about their health when something went wrong. Rightly so, the world has increased its focus on prevention and relapse prevention. However, some risk factors for heart disease cannot be altered (for example, family history, gender and age), but the majority are modifiable conditions that may respond to intervention (for example, cigarette smoking, hypertension, physical inactivity, diabetes, obesity, lack of social support, depression, anxiety, stress, Type-A behaviour pattern). Furthermore, we know why and how CHD develops and, more importantly, how to prevent it. We must take full advantage of this to promote a comparatively healthy life for CHD patients and others prone to this illness. As health research continues to discover more pathways to disease prevention, it becomes clearer that medical intervention alone cannot accomplish all the work ahead. It is important to involve psychological and social intervention for achieving desirable outcomes. Recent studies have also demonstrated that meditation-based stress reduction programmes are equally useful interventions for patients with various medical and psychological symptoms (Nehra and Sharma, 2010).
The aim of a very recent study conducted by Nehra, Sharma, Kumar and Nehra (2014) was to examine the expected beneficial effects of a mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) programme on the psycho-physiological parameters in CHD patient. Findings of the study have shown that MBSR had the hypothesized effects in the sample of distressed individuals from the CHD population. Results supported previous findings regarding the effectiveness of MBSR on decrease of depression, anxiety, stress, health complaints and Type-A behaviour pattern. For the fact, accepting without judgement and observing mainly sensory phenomena may correlate with improvement on psychological measures. A potential explanation of these findings may be that the focus of the intervention is on enhancing mindfulness in general, which leads to accepting one’s feelings and thoughts, and observing bodily and physical sensations. However, MBSR group did not show any improvement on the physiological measures. The analysis of data of the study indicates that there has been a remarkable decline in psychological parameters after the intervention. The sample that was subjected to psychological interventions reported a significant alleviation in their symptoms. Respondents further reported that their physical well-being had improved as a result of a relief from their symptoms. They could also resume their normal activities with much vigour. Counselling of the significant others had helped in changing their attitude towards the client and reinforcing them intermittently. The findings conclude that incorporating a psychological intervention, in addition to drug therapy, into a cardiac rehabilitation programme effectively modified cardiac risk factors and may improve recovery and prognosis. The implications of this investigation include following the principle that awareness is bliss and it is the duty of family and other social organizations to create it. Such kinds of psycho-educative programmes at the institutional level help us to harness maximum benefits to the greatest extent in communities.
Health professionals would agree that health involves much more than simply absence of disease. It is quite possible for a person to be free of disease but still not enjoy a vigorous, satisfying life. Health does not exist in isolation and may be influenced by a complex of environmental, social, economical, cultural, religious and personal factors ultimately related to each other (Nandal and Sharma, 2011). Religious factors like rituals, religiosity, spirituality, and religious beliefs are inseparable from an individual’s psyche. In general sense, rituals related to birth, death, marriage, initiation, healing, harvest or religious observance are found in all known cultures, and appear to have been performed for thousands of years. They speak to people’s core emotions and reveal values that a society holds dearest. Ritual is neither the recapitulation of the profane nor the imprisonment of the sacred, rather the enactment of a referring-to, orienting-toward, focusing-upon and opening-to the transcendent sacred. It is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things viewed as multidimensional in nature. Through most of the history of modern psychology, this term has been both, an individual and an institutional construct.
Religion, according to the Gita, is that which is inherent in the soul. It cannot be changed, and it is universally the same for all living entities. External faiths are material reflections of the inherent spiritual quality of the soul. On the other hand, spirituality is ‘transpersonal awareness arising spontaneously or through meditative and other practices beyond ordinary explanations, and to which are attributed an inspiring and guiding meaningfulness, often attributed to a Deity’ (Benor, 2006, p. 467). A study conducted on a sample of 400 educated adults demonstrated that spirituality came out to be a significant contributing factor on life satisfaction and holistic health in the total group. In case of subjective well-being, the significant contributing factors came out to be the rituals followed by religiosity (Nandal, Sharma and Yadava, 2013).
There are factors such as happiness, well-being, satisfaction, health and positive communities and institutions that foster good lives and gainful employment along with the economic and environmental policies that promote harmony and sustainability. Practical applications of positive psychological capital include helping employees and organizations to identify their strengths and use them to increase and sustain their respective levels of wellness. As India is one of the populated places on earth, human capital plays a very important role in fuelling the Indian economy. Therefore, the newly emerging concept of positive psychological capital would be particularly relevant when Indian organizations are preparing to compete in the global economy. Researches on the positive psychological capital states (Hope, Optimism, Resiliency and Efficacy) and employees’ wellness have been almost ignored in the field of organizational psychology. For further extension in the positive organization behaviour for organizations, Luthans, Luthans and Luthans (2004) provide a combined construct, that is, psychological capital as a main contributor to the competitive advantage of organizations. They refer to the positive psychological resources which include confidence, hope, optimism and resilience. Psychological capital consists of positive psychological capabilities that are assessable, open to enlarge and manageable. As positive psychological capital can be expanded or developed there are many interventions to build up the psychological capital states in employees. Mindfulness is one of those proposed but not studied much by empirical research. Mindfulness is currently defined in psychological terms as characterized by paying total attention to the present moment with a non-judgemental awareness of the inner and outer experience (Marlatt and Kristeller, 1999). Chauhan and Sharma (2013) investigated the relationship between employees’ wellness and positive psychological states. This study also examines the effect of meditation on a target group having low score on positive psychological capital. Results have been discussed in the light of correlation and multiple regression analyses. The study has observed that understanding, assessment and management of positive psychological capital is very important. Findings reveal that wellness is positively and significantly correlated with four states of positive psychological capital (efficacy, hope, optimism and resilience) of employees. Efficacy and hope are significant contributors on overall wellness, job satisfaction, subjective well-being and gainful employment. It means that employees with high self efficacy and hope have more wellness feeling revealed by high level of job satisfaction, subjective well-being and gainful employment. Optimism and resilience significantly contributed to overall wellness, level of job satisfaction, subjective well-being and gainful employment. It also means that employees who are sturdy or having power of resilience had the tendency of high subjective well-being. Results consolidated the view that mindfulness meditation was effective positive psychological capital intervention, which increases the positive psychological capital of employees. Findings further demonstrated that the effectiveness of the intervention programme was maintainable up to a longer period. Positive psychological capital states—efficacy, hope, resilience and optimism of the employees are also affected by the intervention programme. As far as the efficacy of this intervention is concerned, the findings of present investigation have favoured the significant positive effect of intervention on positive psychological capital (Chauhan and Sharma, 2013). The implication of the study may be seen mainly in organizational psychology, human resource management, workplace intervention programmes, for therapists and trainers, organizations and positive psychology particularly with the objective to enable and empower the employees and their institutions.
The Indian view of health takes into consideration the achievement and maintenance of balance between all aspects of life such as social, emotional and spiritual. The focus is not only on curing the disease but also promoting positive experiences to health and dealing with the life conditions. To a large extent, factors such as where one lives, the state of one’s environment, genetics, one’s income and education level, and one’s relationships with friends and family all have considerable impact on health and well-being, whereas the more commonly considered factors such as psycho-social factors, participation in civic activities and social engagement, strong social networks, feeling of trust, feeling of power and control over life decisions, supportive family structure, positive self-esteem, healthy conditions and environments, effective health services, healthy life styles and use of health care services often have lesser impact. Thus, the context of people’s lives determines their health, and so blaming individuals for having poor health or crediting them for good health is inappropriate. Individuals are unlikely to be able to directly control many of the determinants of health such as—accidents and injuries, diet, nutrition and health, immunization, tobacco smoking, physical activity, alcohol, obesity, drug misuse, etc. After the positive psychology revolution, every concept seems to feel connected with its principles. So is the case of health and well-being in present study. It has been noticed that positive capacities do have potential to affect health and well-being of an individual significantly (Mamta and Sharma, 2013a).
Each and everyone have a capacity which may be stable and help to live better life. Even the knowledge of these capacities and awareness that the same are present within the self make a difference in making and creating change in attitude towards life events. In the study by Mamta and Sharma (2013b), positive capacities were divided in three parts, namely, present, past and future orientation positive capacities. Humour, meaning in life and resilience were taken as present orientation positive capacities. Forgiveness, gratitude and life satisfaction were taken as past orientation positive capacities. Hope, optimism and self-efficacy were taken as future orientation positive capacities. The primary aim of the study was to find out positive capacities as correlates of health and well-being among working and retired persons. Most of the present orientation positive capacities (humour, meaning in life and resilience) were found significantly correlated with life stress, coping skills, mental health, and response to illness, health habits, adult health history and health care utilization amongst retired persons while significantly correlated with social resources and health beliefs and attitudes in working persons. Whereas the past orientation positive capacities (forgiveness, gratitude and life satisfaction) were found significantly correlated with life stress, social resources and mental health among working persons but it was also found that most of past orientation positive capacities were significantly associated with coping skills, response to illness, health habits and health beliefs and attitudes in retired persons while equally significantly correlated with health care utilization in working and retired persons. Lastly, future orientation positive capacities (hope, optimism and self-efficacy) were found significantly correlated with life stress, social resources, mental health, response to illness, health care utilization and health beliefs and attitudes in working persons while it was also found that future orientation positive capacities were significantly correlated with coping skills and health habits in retired persons. However, it was found that most of the future orientation positive capacities equally significantly associated with adult health history in working and retired persons. Thus, most of the positive capacities, that is, present, past and future orientations were found significantly correlated with well-being manifestation among retired persons (Mamta and Sharma, 2013b).
In conclusion, the overall research outputs shown in preceding sections clearly indicate that applied positive psychology has wider scope and application in producing desirable results. The respective findings are not only applicable at individual level but also have strong tendency to affect group functioning. Be it the case of positive capacities, emotional and social intelligence, positive psychological capital, ritual, religiosity and spirituality, management of anger, building up healthy life style, practicing some meditational procedure or dealing with chronic diseases like CHD, diabetics, Asthma research demonstrates that enabling the self will help develop feeling of having control over his/her health related concerns. This feeling of control is further translated into action at living (home), studying (school) and working (organization) places. The effects are not limited to the individual; they are bound to roll towards the family and communities. People with healthy mind and body will create healthy family and happy communities. However, focus at multiple domains may be suffering of an individual but letting others not suffer is also of paramount importance. How can you achieve the goal of enabling the organizations (home, school and industry) without serving their smallest units adequately? Applied positive psychology with its concepts and applications has provided sample methodological, scientific, workable and effectively functional provisions which one may apply at every small or big step of life without much problem. One has to get up and start working on them. Think small but think for all. It is better to try and fail than fail to try.
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Mamta and Sharma, N. R. (2013a). Resilience and Self-efficacy as Correlates of Well-being Among the Elderly Persons. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 39(2), 281–88.
Mamta and Sharma, N. R. (2013b). Positive Capacities as Correlate of Health and Well-being: A Comparative Study of Working and Retired Persons. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Maharshi Dayanand Unversity, Rothak.
Marlatt, G. A., and Kristeller, J. L. (1999). Mindfulness and Meditation. In W. R. Miller (Ed.), Integrating Spirituality into Treatment: Resources for Practitioners (pp. 67–84). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Menon, S. D., and Kennedy, A. (2004). Health Psychology and Stress Management. Hyderabad: Apollo Hospitals Educational and Research Foundation.
Nandal, T., and Sharma, N. R. (2011). Rituals, Religiosity and Spirituality as Correlates of Health. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Maharshi Dayanand Unversity, Rothak.
Nandal, T., Sharma, N. R., and Yadava, A. (2013). A Correlation Study of Religiosity and Health. Journal of Indian Health Psychology, 8(1), 75–87.
Nehra, D. K., and Sharma, N. R. (2010). Comparative Efficacy of CBT and MBSR Program on Psycho-Physiological Parameters in CHD Patients. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Maharshi Dayanand Unversity, Rothak.
Nehra, D. K., Sharma, N. R., Kumar, P., and Nehra, S. (2014). Efficacy of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Progarmme in Reducing Perceived Stress and Health Complaints in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease. Dysphrenia, 5(1). 19–25.
Pankaj and Sharma, N. R. (2012). Assessment and Management of Adolescent Anger. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Maharshi Dayanand Unversity, Rothak.
Peterson, C., and Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character Strength and Virtues: A Hand Book and Classification. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Sangwan, S., and Sharma, N. R. (2009). Type a Behavior Pattern and Lifestyle Amongst Hypertensives, Diabetics and Asthmatics: A Comparative Study. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Maharshi Dayanand Unversity, Rothak.
Seligman M. E. P., and Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive Psychology: An Introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.
Tripathi, R. C., and Sinha, Y. (2013). Psychology, Development and Social Policy in India. New Delhi: Springer.
Tuyet, N. T., and Sharma, N. R. (2008). Effect of Vipassana Meditation on Health. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Maharshi Dayanand Unversity, Rothak.