What is Positive Psychology?

Using scientific research to study what is right, rather than what is wrong, with people.

Founded in the late 1990s by esteemed psychologist Martin Seligman, positive psychology uses scientific research to study what is right, rather than what is wrong, with people. Unlike the self-help movement, positive psychology is concerned with testing, evidence and measurement with the expectation that the research will lead to the application of practical interventions to help individuals and organizations thrive.

What do people who are happy, healthy and successful do differently that can be helpful to the rest of us? How do some people grow through adversity? What attitudes and feelings lead to greater success? How can we design our perfect day using systems and habits? Positive psychology, also called the science of happiness, offers us answers to these questions.

Many physicians have worked hard to reach the next stage in their careers only to find the final destination somewhat unfulfilling. They often have the mindset that “I’ll be happy when…I finish medical school or match in my top residency or complete my fellowship or make a lot of money.” Unfortunately for many, all of these milestones offer only temporary spikes in happiness and leaves us feeling empty and searching for something more; more meaning, more joy, and more satisfaction.

While what we do for a living is important, what we do with our lives is the ultimate measure of a satisfying and meaningful life. How do we approach setbacks? What are the best ways to identify and pursue new rewarding goals? What behaviors can we choose each day to become more calm, thankful, and happy? How do we stop floating through life getting what we want and start wanting what we have? If you have asked yourself any of these questions then the Positive Medicine Program may be the answer for you.

Physicians are Masters in Delayed Gratification

Unfortunately for many, occupational milestones offer only temporary spikes in happiness

What Can Positive MEDICINE do for you?

Help Smooth Transitions

Many physicians that I know are very successful in their careers but often feel as if they are sleepwalking through life. They have stopped learning. They have been doing the same things the same way for quite some time. Their current careers no longer provide stimulation, meaning or passion. Some may be experiencing a challenging transition in their lives such as a divorce, layoff or a career change. Others are pursuing a significant goal related to their health, finances or personal relationships. Whatever your situation, the Positive Medicine Program can help you to find the type of work you were meant to do.

Help Spark Transitions

Stuck in your career and ready for a change? What do you do at work that doesn’t feel like work? What would you do in life even if you were not paid? What are your unique strengths? What type of work can ONLY you do? The Positive Medicine Program can help you to find answers to these and other questions in order to clearly define how you should spend your professional life. This program can help you to navigate career transitions; set and achieve career goals that are right for you; and learn how to live with less anxiety and frustration, and with greater happiness, optimism and success!

Access Peak Performance
We all want to perform at optimal levels in our professional and personal lives. This program teaches physicians how to enter peak states more frequently resulting in higher quality output with lower fatigue levels. Not only can we experience more satisfying work experiences, we can use these same principles to access peak states at home with our friends and family.
Develop Positive Emotional Awareness
The science of happiness has shown that people who are optimistic experience a wide range of benefits including improved physical health, greater productivity and creativity, as well as an increased ability to cope with challenges and adversity resulting in lower burnout.
Leverage Strengths

The Positive Medicine Program helps you identify and build on your strengths in a very focused way. Enabling physicians to identify their strengths, develop the range of strengths they have, and utilize them for maximum effectiveness is a goal of this program. Individuals who know and nurture their strengths are shown to be have higher levels of quality, productivity and resilience. They also report greater life satisfaction.

Shift From Wrong to Right
Helping people shift focus from what is wrong to what is right. Our brains are wired to focus on the negative aspects of our lives. We respond to threats quicker than we respond to pleasures. The Positive Psychology Program for Physicians will help shift your attention to appreciate the many aspects of your life that are going well. This mindset shift can be transformative for many physicians.

Program Outline

The Positive Medicine Program is built on scientifically validated principles of positive psychology research and incorporates key concepts from business, philosophy, neuroscience, and organizational leadership.

This program addresses the underlying root causes of discontent that many physicians feel and tailors personalized solutions to optimize both external workflow stressors as well as individual stress responses. Becoming more resilient and mindful will not be enough if we are repeatedly exposed to a stressful and inefficient work environment every day. We need effective strategies to optimize both our organizational practice efficiency and our individual ability to experience more presence, joy and fulfillment. This is the only evidence-based program for physicians that has been proven to do both.

The concepts taught in this program will be explored through personalized sessions, interactive exercises and take-home strategies that have been proven to increase lasting well-being.  Physicians will leave each session prepared for meaningful change. They will receive a scientific understanding of flourishing, and a toolkit of evidence-based positive psychology interventions that will enhance their professional and personal lives. This program measures improvement in various domains of well-being including scientifically validated personal assessments, physiologic markers such as heart rate variability (HRV), and inflammatory measures of stress.

Below is a sample of some concepts reviewed in each session. Depending upon individual assessments and goals, different topics may be emphasized over others.

Session 1: What is Positive Medicine?

  • The absence of burnout does not equal the presence of well-being
  • We want to flourish not just function
  • What does it mean to flourish?
  • Physicians need positive psychology: the scientific study of what makes life worth living
  • What is wrong with the “medical model,” and how do we reconcile these values with the latest science in positive psychology?
  • A roadmap for clinician well-being: REVAMP (relationships, engagement, vitality, accomplishment, meaning, positive emotions)
  • Positive Interventions: putting the science to work in our own lives
Session 2: Hedonic Adaptation: What we should have learned in medical school!
  • Physicians are masters in delayed gratification: cultivation of the “I’ll be happy when” mindset
  • We adapt to all positive and constant things in our lives: we are wired to take our jobs, our house, and even our family for granted.
  • What we pay attention to becomes our reality
  • Learn how to pay attention to the good, and the good will appreciate
  • Scientific study of gratitude is perhaps positive psychology’s greatest contribution: explore the research
  • Money can buy happiness: experiences not possessions
  • Set up a gratitude practice in less than 2 minutes per day
  • Negative visualization and the drive home from work
Session 3: Meditation, Mindfulness and Workflow
  • Attention is the new currency
  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV): independent prognostic indicator of all-cause mortality
  • Brain MRI changes and the emerging field of Health Neuroscience
  • Deep work and cultivation of attention capital
  • Physiologic measures of mindfulness practice
  • Workflow, Quality and Fatigue: Stay in the Physician Zone!
  • How to meditate

Session 4: Character Strengths and Flow: How to Cultivate Peak Experiences on Demand

  • Virtue and the road to happiness
  • Signature strengths and why they matter?
  • How do we measure them?
  • How do we use them at work and at home?
  • Savoring and enhancing positive experiences
  • What is Flow?
  • Can we really experience flow at work?

Session 5: Plan to Flourish: Putting it all together!

  • What makes up a great day?
  • Proactive design rather than reactive frustration
  • Essentialism and the 80/20 rule
  • Priorities, core habits and constraints to create lasting change
  • The most effective positive psychology interventions for busy physicians
  • Develop and implement a customized plan to flourish in 15 minutes per day!