Jan 122008

-10 to +10 Continuum

The Positive Model is a sort of meta-model, or a template model. Imagine if you are sick. You can either battle the disease, or try to improve your overall health, including battling the disease.

This is the idea that the Positive Psychology movement is founded on. Positive Psychology (which has roots in the Humanistic Psychology movement started by Watson and Maslow) is founded on the idea of improving mental wellness rather than reducing mental illness. Comparatively, you achieve more by striving for mental wellness. If you were simply working on removing the disease, your highest ambitions are just removing that disease. However, if you are striving for wellness, then, not only do you eradicate that disease but also help prevent others. One of the sayings of the Positive Psychology movement is that, “absence of disease is not health”.

Traditional psychology (and medicine, in general) is founded on the assumption that the absence of illness is health, but that is not accurate. I know people who don’t have any diseases but they’re not “healthy”. Look at the continuum at the top of this post, for a moment, that goes from -10 to +10 and measures your health. If you have an illness, you are at -10. If you do have not have any illness, then you are at 0, however, that is not health. Health is at +10.

If you’re into the Law of Attraction/Intention-Manifestation, you’ll find this idea is very important and familiar. Instead of saying that you don’t want to be in debt, you want to say that you are financially abundant. More traditional forms of goal formulation also stress writing in the positive.

I know that, for myself, and I’d imagine Steve Pavlina, I got into personal development because I was at -10 and wanted to get to 0. A little while ago, I found out that I was at 0, and perhaps a little bit above so I had, in a sense, achieved my goal and my motivation dried up. After some time I consciously realized the situation and now I’m working to go towards +10, and I am doing really well in many areas. Has something like this happened to you?

One thing I like to do is create a mental image of what+10, -10 and 0 look like. More often than not, 0 ends up being what is “normal”, at least in my social group or in my understanding of the general population. Other times its more concrete, like having no debt, but no wealth either. -10 might be being in lots of debt (excluding mortgage) and +10 being in abundant wealth.

It gets more interesting if you’re working with two variables or factors. Say you have to lift something heavy. You can either make your weight lighter, or become stronger. You can still apply a simple 0 to +10 continuum here, but with two things and compare the two. Maybe your strength is at 4 and that means you can only lift weights that are below 4. As another example: to improve my ability to tackle things I have fears towards, I can either improve my courage, reduce my fears or do both. And I tend to do both.

Where in your life can you see this distinction between wanting to get away from -10 or towards +10?

Main Points:

  • Ask yourself about your goals: am I trying to get “away” from a situation, or going “towards” something better? Am I trying to get away from -10, or trying to get towards +10?
  • What does +10 look like? Imagine it, and write it down if you need to. What do -10 and 0 look like?

As always, I highly value feedback. I’d especially love to know if any of this is striking a bell with any of you, but I’ll take all forms of comments, criticisms and compliments. 🙂

  One Response to “Do you just want to not be sick?”

  1. […] Positive Psychology is a relatively new branch of traditional psychology, and its main tenant is that the absence of disease is not health. Someone who doesn’t have any diseases but doesn’t excersize or eat well may not be sick, but they’re not very healthy either. I just posted about this, Do you just want to not be sick?. […]

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