Positive Psychology and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What is Positive Psychology?
When we think about psychology, we tend to think about things like depression, bi-polar disorder and attention deficit disorder. But what about happiness? Dr Martin Seligman founded a branch of psychology he titled "Positive Psychology," which focuses on what makes us happy and how our positive emotions are created. In the same way psychologists identify and treat seemingly negative disorders, Positive Psychology identifies how we can find meaning and satisfaction in life.
Why Positive Psychology for My CFS?
While those suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome experience extreme fatigue, muscle aches and pains, anxiety and depression, the condition doesn't have to control your life. There are ways to live a full and happy life even while experiencing symptoms of CFS. Positive Psychology focuses on what gives your purpose, drive, and satisfaction, and how to introduce those things into your life, while avoiding the negative thoughts and self deprecating actions with which many suffering from CFS experience.
It Sounds Hokey... What does Positive Psychology Involve?
Don't worry. While the name may sound reminiscent of group hugs and teddy bears, the theory behind Positive Psychology involves identifying the aspects of your life that give you purpose and meaning. You can:
- Identify key character strengths
- Identify sources and levels of happiness
- Become aware of your levels of forgiveness, optimism, life satisfaction and perseverance
By being aware of these things, certain aspects of your life that may negatively affect you become apparent. If you can eliminate the negative and focus on what gets you out of bed in the morning, you can work to manage the symptoms of CFS.
Dr. Seligman's website, www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu, offers questionnaires that point out happiness levels, character strengths, depression levels, and much more. If you are seeing a therapist or psychologist, ask them if they are familiar with Positive Psychology and Authentic Happiness. If they are not, have them recommend someone who is or research it on your own. Positive Psychology is all exercising control over your life by identifying what brings you happiness and meaning. Combined with exercise therapy and diet, Positive Psychology can teach you techniques to help with symptoms of your CFS. Think about what positive changes you can make in your life and your way of thinking; then, work to implement those changes in your life.
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