Fleurieu Living Magazine Spring 2023

Page 44

Above: Georgina Coventry at Willunga Creek.

Small is significant Words by Sam Healy.

Humanity’s inherent pursuit of happiness has led to the exploration of various methods and approaches to heal wounds and find joy. Psychology, with its traditional focus on diagnosing and treating mental illness, has played a vital role in addressing psychological challenges. However, Positive Psychology, introduced by Dr. Martin Seligman in 1998, offers a different approach. Rather than focusing on fixing problems, it encourages the creation of happiness. Positive Psychology has reshaped mental health and wellbeing, with Seligman and Christopher Peterson developing the PERMA framework encompassing five key elements for happiness: Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. Viewing these elements as separate batteries, they offer a new perspective on life. When your Positive Emotions battery is low, strategies like engaging in a favourite activity can recharge it. The power of these strategies lies in their innate existence within us, but we can overlook them, dismissing them as ‘too simple to work.’ The truth is that they can help us, just like they’ve helped thousands of others. Meaning As Fleurieu local Georgina Coventry lay on the cold ground, with the car she’d been thrown from now crumpled and silent, Georgina made a decision. She was going to live. The doctors and nurses were in awe of her recovery – with thirteen fractured vertebrae and a shattered face, many assumed she wouldn’t make it, let alone smile, walk and work again. From a PERMA perspective, this decision (made during the most challenging of moments) crystallised her Meaning and her ‘why’ was now to make this an opportunity to live fully and with intention. Most of us are fortunate to have the chance to define our meaning in comfort and safety. However, we often prioritise other tasks, overlooking this

opportunity. Being a parent, making money or being an inspiring leader are things we do, but they aren’t our true meaning. Meaning lies in finding purpose and value beyond ourselves – in meaning and connection. Embodying this significantly impacts everything we do, and everyone involved. As Seligman explains, ‘It is meaning that ties together the past, present, and future, providing direction and purpose in life.’ So, take this opportunity to write down your meaning. Positivity Is Power Georgina exhibits a striking and contagious quality – positivity, even during her early days in intensive care. How is this possible? ‘I work to be the person I wanted to look to when I was a child,’ she shares. Her passionate approach resonates with Seligman’s view that positive emotions are the building blocks of wellbeing. One way Georgina would charge her Positive Emotions was by being active and outdoors. Months after the accident, during difficult days, she recalls thinking, ‘I can’t do anything let alone anything I used to.’ Recognising the stagnancy of this thought, she kept choosing to focus on achievable strategies that would make her feel positive, ranging from leaning into those around her, to discovering the euphoric feelings that came with walking again. So again, in your current comfort, take this opportunity. Be aware of the fact that you’re able to focus on activities that make you feel positive. Write them down and think about how you can action one or two today. Georgina’s journey reminds us that we all have the capacity to choose healthy strategies that charge PERMA, without necessarily having to face such traumatic events. The small ingredient for Georgina is, ‘To have a perspective that those opportunities are there for you every day, in every moment of every second. You can choose to take them. Or you can choose to dismiss them.’ The science is overwhelming; small matters. So what small steps will you take to blossom this spring? For more information on PERMA and Positive Psychology: · free sign up at positivepsychology.com · read Flourish by Martin Seligman · listen to the podcast: The Science Of Happiness.


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