I don’t know about you, but I just LOVE to learn new things. Especially things which explain life and help me get a more positive understanding.
You may not know the name Martin Seligman but he’s a professor at U Penn and the founder of “positive psychology.” Make no mistake, Dr. Seligman is not a la-la kind of psychologist. But his fascination is with questions like:
- why do some folks thrive;
- who flourishes and why;
- how can we not just avoid despair but how can we savor a joy-filled, meaning-filled life?
He’s my kind of guy!
Anyway, recently, Dr. Seligman was retained by the U.S. Army to study post-traumatic stress among our soldiers. Undertaking a study of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, Dr. Seligman arrived at a stunning conclusion. Imagine a Bell curve. . . you know the kind where “typical” is depicted at the height of the curve and represents about 68% of any given population (the red part in the graph below). Now imagine a “tail” to the left and a “tail” to the right (the green and blue parts of the graph below).
What Dr. Seligman found is that, indeed, there is a group of soldiers who suffer “post traumatic stress,” represented by the left-hand tail (about 16% of returning vets). The majority of folks, that 68% in the middle of the Bell, actually return to their previous level of well-being about 3-6 months post-combat.
But here’s the really interesting part: the portion of soldiers represented by the right-hand tail actually experience what Seligman has termed, “post-traumatic growth!” They come home BETTER than when they went to war. Their experiences have led them to believe that they’re better leaders than they knew . . . or that they’re cool hands under fire . . . or that they can help people go on during difficult times. One way or the other, trauma has led them to grow. It’s such a simple concept, I wonder why I hadn’t realized it before!
So, how does that apply to our kids? Oh, let me count the ways!!! Other girls treat her meanly and instead of becoming depressed, she becomes compassionate. He doesn’t make the team and instead goes out for the play and finds he is excellent onstage. She doesn’t get into the college or grad school of her choice so she re-doubles her efforts and, wonder of wonders, gets in the following year!
Sometimes, we FORGET about our terrific potential for growth!
Share this reminder with your kids today!
It’s their nature to grow, to become stronger. WOW!