A positive psychology perspective on the Olympics

A positive psychology perspective on the Olympics

With so much focus on the Olympics at the moment we thought you might find this article, in which a number of athletes are considered in terms of character strengths, of interest.

There's not a lot of talk about happiness per se, but it's fascinating to read about all the examples of good deeds and great use of strengths (such as courage and virtue etc) which ultimately, contribute to a good life which ultimately, is what happiness is all about! 

The article from Positive Psychology News Daily begins like this…

The Olympic Games represent ultimate sporting achievement of excellence, and medalists are champions of optimal human performance. Every Olympian brings a story of challenge, risk, failure, triumph, and hope. These stories have the potential to inspire people around the world to dream of similarly impressive feats of meaning.

Perhaps we find the Olympic Games so compelling because the competition elicits the universal virtues of wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. Peterson and Seligman’s book on character strengths and virtues outlines 6 virtues and 24 character strengths that have “emerged consensually across cultures and throughout time.” The Olympics brings us paragons of these virtues from around the world. Every event of the 2012 Olympics will be live streaming via the web. Here are 6 story lines to watch in London that embody character strengths and virtues. Keep your eyes open for other stories of character strengths as the games unfold.

WISDOM – Cognitive strengths: Learning and the use of knowledge and experience

Mike Krzyzewski, USA Men’s Basketball Coach

Robert Sternberg (1998) defines wisdom as, “A balance between the interests of the self, other, and the larger community.” USA Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski has been the winning coach in over 1,000 basketball games, and he is motivated in a way that echoes Sternberg’s wisdom. In a recent USA Today article, Krzyzewski, 65, said representing the USA is, “the ultimate honor,” and the experiences gained by his family are invaluable and bring him great joy. In addition he is passionate and exhilarated by the challenge of putting his legacy on the line and leading a most talented group of athletes.

Coach K is a master motivator who teaches his famous team of NBA stars the deeper significance of working together to compete for USA. With two gold medals, entering into his 3rd and potentially final go as coach of the USA basketball team, he has created a legacy of living in service. The USA team won its first game against France on July 29, but there are several challenges yet to meet.

COURAGE – Emotional strengths: Willpower and motivation to achieve goals in spite of adversity

Oscar Pistorius, South Africa, 400m sprint, 4x400m relay

Before the age of 1, Oscar Pistorius’ legs were amputated below the knee. Showing incredible resilience, Pistorius mastered the physical challenge of living an active lifestyle with prosthetic legs and was a world class sprinter until sporting officials claimed his disability was an unfair advantage. He rose to the emotional challenge of battling authorities for his right to compete against the best in the world, and after months of rigorous medical testing had his eligibility reinstated. His courage to persevere through pain, doubt, and a brief ban from the sport was rewarded when he qualified for the London Games in the 400m sprint and the 4x400m.

Pistorius is running for South Africa in what is often considered by track and field athletes as the most gut-wrenching and physically painful sprint. Oscar will race against some of the world’s most explosive and powerful athletes on Saturday, August 4th at Olympic Stadium…

…keep reading the full and original article HERE