“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So wrote the wonderful Charles Dickens in the nineteenth century and what he wrote is as true today as it was then. For many of us, some truly awful things have happened, all of a sudden and without any fault or volition from ourselves. For others among us, equally all of a sudden, we are living in ways we couldn’t have envisaged a few short weeks ago and some of that is actually rather wonderful.

To make sense of it all, my brilliant colleague, Victorian psychologist Dr Bruce Wilson, turned to others through the ages who also lived through the best and worst of times. Here are his musings on the light and the dark of the current situation.
While reflecting on this difficult time in history, I have some thoughts about how we might all benefit from the concepts of Positive Psychology.

Although there are a plethora of ideas on what Positive Psychology is about, I would like to synthesize these ideas for those psychologists, like myself, that are working at home right now during this pandemic.

There have been very few times in history where we have needed positivity more than we do at present.  Negativity is everywhere we look.  But do we have an alternative direction to turn to?  Is there a direction that could serve each and every one of us better?

“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”

Albert Einstein

I am reminded of the thought that what we see is not the product of our eyes but rather the product of our brain.  Our perceptions determine what we see in life.  Could our perceptions be more influential than our eyes?

“The eyes only see what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”

Henri Bergson

Luckily perceptions are not universal but rather singular.  That is, I determine what I see and think.  I have that power within me, if and when I decide to use it.  I decide what is beautiful, or what is good or bad, happy or sad.

“You have power over your mind-not outside events.  Realize this and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

I am aware that my clients can alter their perceptions if they choose.  I work with them on this process.  Can isolation be hard? Yes, but it may also be rewarding.  Which part will I focus on?

“Isolation is a way to know ourselves.”      Franz Kafka

During this pandemic we are all facing some hard and challenging changes in our lifestyle.  As Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology has stated: we can see these challenges as permanent or temporary.  We can see these changes as externalities or we can internalize them.  We decide how we see them.  Our perception is the key to which door we open.

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”

Roger Crawford

There is an emotional recipe for our mood states.  The ingredients that go into our focusing on our strengths are organic, while those focusing on our weaknesses can be toxic.

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

Aristotle

When clients make the choice to self-determinate the impact of world events, they take control of that impact.  As a psychologist, I work with people every day as an assistant in the construction of that self-determination.

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