by Megan McDonough

One of my goals for the recent Embodied Positive Psychology Summit was to share ideas about the future of the field, based on our experience at Wholebeing Institute. Below are the key points from that presentation. Check out more resources and slides from the Summit presentations here.

Positive psychology integrates the body.
It sounds obvious, but since it’s often excluded, let’s make it explicit: Our psychological well-being is affected by our physical well-being. Our bodies need to be included, engaged, and treated well to flourish. I look forward to seeing a more body-centered approach alongside cognitive perspectives.

Positive psychology connects to social psychology.
No one is an island. Feelings and emotions have environmental context. Who we hang out with, and how we behave with them, have a large impact. The latest work being done with sociometric badges, providing big data about our interactions, turns a “me” understanding of psychology into a “we” understanding of the intricate and complex interconnections that shape our sense of self.

Positive psychology holds the whole.
The term “positive” sets us up for the constant need to justify and define the field. It’s often misunderstood, and misconstrued as happy-ology. The evolution of the field will include a sense of the “whole”—a sense that negative and positive are a continuum, and we can make choices that lead us toward a constructive and life-affirming future, no matter where we are today. Words matter, and that’s why we use wholebeing, instead of happiness or positivity, to describe that state of well-being.

Since I’m articulating the whole, and stressing the importance of the “we” alongside the “me,” what do you think about the future of positive psychology? Share your comments below! I’m excited to hear, and learn from, your perspective.


Megan McDonough is CEO of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest.

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