Positive psychology in the times of Covid-19

by Marisa Salanova, UJI

We are living convulsive changes due to the worldwide spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the consequent health, economic, social and also human crisis. Although the change has accompanied the human being from its origins, it is true that in a very short period of time we have been forced to drastically stop our “normal” life and we have been forced to change our daily routines, experiencing radical changes in the way in which we live and communicate, but also in the way we work and in how organizations have had to face this crisis.

Roots of the concept

In these times, the results of the extensive research on Positive Psychology can help us to cope with home confinement and this crisis in general. Positive Psychology contributes clearly and directly to making individuals, groups and organizations have a fuller and more satisfying life, more worth living. Its contribution lies in the very definition of Martin Seligman (one of its founding researchers) as a “scientific study of the optimal functioning of people and organizations”, “studies positive people and organizations”, and “wants to understand the foundations of well-being and happiness”.

Strengths for something greater

However, the “Positive” goes beyond the purely hedonic or pleasant. To clarify a little, for example, one of concepts commonly used from Psychology such as ‘happiness’ may come in handy. “Happiness” is not the mere satisfaction of needs without effort, without tolerance for frustration, without courage to face adversities such as one as Covid-19 effects. Authentic happiness, sustainable over time has a broader meaning, if you like, an eudaimonic vision (from Eudaimonia in the Aristotelian sense as happiness in the fullness of being, the practice of virtues, the search for meaning and purpose), in line to know own strengths and put them at the service of something that transcends us. It is happiness related to the congruence with one’s values, the meaning of life, basic human needs, and social connection with others. For me, this idea of happiness is what I would like for our children and our children’s children, and for Planet Earth in general.

Become even stronger

In any case, the Positive should not be defined only as “pleasant” but also as that which promotes optimal functioning, progress and development, which is so necessary right now due to the effects of the Covid-19 crisis. In this sense, some emotions and situations that are not as pleasant as sadness, such as the uncertainty of what the future holds, the need for perseverance and a constant effort to rebuild what the Covid-19 has destroyed cannot be overlooked. These are important as well aspects as the reconstruction of our individual and collective well-being, personal, family and professional development, the development of personal and organizational resilience, the advancement of societies, and much more. The same concept of resilience or that of post-traumatic growth in itself leads to the existence of stressful and / or traumatic events so that the possibility of continuing to have a positive functioning can emerge and become  even stronger after the trauma generated by Covid- 19.

Altruistic mobilization in the days of Covid-19

Positive Psychology can help us know what our personal strengths are and put them at the service of something that transcends us. In these moments of crisis, we have seen how many people have mobilized altruistically to serve the professionals who are in the trenches in this fight against the virus, the community, the most vulnerable families, and many others. These social actions provide us with a meaningful life right now. Because happiness, from Positive Psychology, is not a happy flower, but the leading of a meaningful and purposeful life. And even more now, where perhaps. in these moments, we can ask ourselves if being locked up in order to not spread the virus, observing personal and family hygiene, doing voluntary actions to help others, etc., are actions in the sense that we put our own strengths at the service of something that transcends us.

My personal mobilization

For me, one of the actions that have led to the greatest satisfaction and personal achievement during these days of quarantine has been to develop a series of training pills that I called PsiCovid-19 and which are available on my YouTube channel on Positive Psychology with Marisa Salanova. In them, I explain in more detail how Positive Psychology can help us to cope with this crisis, what empirically validated exercises can be done to improve levels of well-being and more on topics such as: TIPS for the quarantine, optimism, sense of humour, positive focus, search for meaning, concept of happiness, character strengths, gratitude, strength meditation, strength familiograma, prioritizing the positive, positive conversations, and techniques from positive psychology such as the three blending, best possible self, if…then,  fortunately, etc.

A little self-reflection these days is a great way to start discovering what really matters in life. Thus, discovering our most important values is what gives meaning to our lives. Perhaps we can discover the positive changes that our life and our world need as well.

Take good care of yourself, so that you can take care of others.