Hello, and welcome to week two of the course on positive interventions theory, research, and practice. Last week, we conducted a thought experiment together. We imagined a genie offering to transform us into superheroes. This genie offered us a choice of two capes. A red cape would give us powers to fight against the things we don't want in the world, poverty, injustice, hunger, violence. And the green cape would give us powers to help grow the things we do want harmony, understanding, meaning, and justice. We concluded from our thought experiment, that both the red cape and the green cape are important for well-being. So, we would really need to have a reversible cape to flourish. I pointed out though, that most of us tend to overuse the red side of that reversible cape, because human beings are wired to be very sensitive to danger. This is important for our survival, but it's also very important for us to be attentive to opportunities. I mentioned that we would be focusing mostly on the green side of the cape in this MOOC, and we will. But before we go further I want to go back and consider the two sides of the cape more closely. So, when you think of the red side and the green side, which side would you say is positive? Well, the green side of course, right? The green side is clearly positive. So, what is the red side? Negative? Many of us in positive psychology have had the experience I had one day, when I met a woman who asked me what I do. When I said I work in positive psychology, she laughed and said as opposed to negative psychology? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, I explained. It's in contrast to mainstream psychology, which I don't considered to be negative. So, what is mainstream psychology, if it's not positive and not negative? What is the red side of the cape, if it's neither positive nor negative? These are troubling questions, and since I'm a philosopher I was really bothered by them. So I decided to try to get to the bottom of what positive psychology means by the positive. The result was a 75 page paper that has been published as two articles in the Journal of Positive Psychology. But don't worry, I'm not going to throw 75 pages of philosophical analysis at you today, but I would like to share with you four key points from the paper. So, let's consider the first one. It's pretty easy to see that getting more of what we want in the world is positive. But what about getting less of what we don't want in the world? Isn't that positive too? Isn't finding a cure for a debilitating disease just as positive as discovering how to increase the yield of a particular crop? Isn't treating a mental illness just as positive as helping someone get an education? Of course, it is. Curing disease and treating mental illness are both positive, but they are indirectly positive. They move us in the direction we want to go by removing an obstacle to well being. Increasing crop yields and providing someone with an education are also both positive. But they're directly positive, they move us in the direction we want to go by providing important components of well being. So, I think the red cape is just as positive as the green cape. It's simply positive in a different way. And I think mainstream psychology, with its emphasis on treating mental illness, is just as positive as positive psychology, with its emphasis on building human strengths. They're simply positive in different ways. So, here is a second key point from my paper on defining the positive in positive psychology. Not all positive things are optimal. So what do I mean by that? Well, imagine if I offered you a $10 bill. Would you agree that that would be positive? But what if I said, you could choose between the $10 bill and a $100 bill? Both options would be positive, but the second would be more positive. That's the one that would be optimal. In each of our lives there are things that we would choose for their own sakes as being positive. Things like going out with friends, watching our favorite TV shows, perhaps, reading novels by our favorite authors, or going for long walks in the woods. And yet there are things in our lives we consider to be more important than these activities. We might cut way back on these things if we're in school and trying to get an education, or if we're just beginning our careers in a profession that we find very meaningful. Or if we have children who need our time and attention. It's important of course to find a balance. But my point is that just because something is positive in itself, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is the optimal path to flourishing. A third point to consider is that there are some processes that are negative in themselves, but that lead to positive outcomes. Here's a way to illustrate this point. What do you think the proper punishment should be for someone who drugs you, straps you down on a table, slices open your abdomen and takes out one of your internal organs? How many years should they spend in prison, do you think? Five? Ten? Maybe 20? What if they do this not just to you, but to lots of other people too? And what if this person is paid a lot of money to do this? Can you believe some people would actually behave in this way? Well, what if I told you that this person's victims actually consented to this practice voluntarily and that they thank the person afterwards? What if I explain to you that this person is a doctor who specializes in removing inflamed appendices? That changes everything, doesn't it? There's no way we would consider surgery a positive process. But it is something we would willingly undergo for the outcome of saving our lives. And the fourth point I want to share with you contrasts the green side of the cape with the reversible cape. I believe these perspectives represent two modes of engaging in positive psychology. From the standpoint of the green side of the cape, positive psychology is complementary to mainstream psychology. While mainstream psychology focuses on getting rid of the mental illnesses we don't want, positive psychology focuses on the complementary goal of building up the strengths we do want. From this standpoint of the reversible cape, positive psychology aims at a comprehensive approach to overall human flourishing. From this standpoint of the complimentary green cape emphasis on well being is a means of achieving comprehensive reversible cape human flourishing. So, what does all these mean for us in our study of positive interventions? Well, it means that it's important for us to understand the positive in a complex way if it is to help us increase our well being. First of all, it means keeping in mind both direct and indirect approaches to the positive. Second, it means keeping in mind that just because something is positive does not necessarily mean that it's optimal. Third, it means keeping in mind that sometimes the best route of flourishing takes us through negative processes, motivating us to choose things we wouldn't choose for their own sakes, but that are important for the outcomes we seek. And fourth, it means keeping in mind on comprehensive aims of positive psychology, considering the effects of anything we do on overall human flourishing. So, with all in this mind lets go back to the topic of positive emotions we talked about in the last couple of sections. Last week, we focused on the complementary mode of positive emotions. In the next couple of sections, we will consider them from a comprehensive perspective.