A Science of Happiness and Health?
Wellness is not the absence of disease. It is the presence of something — the question is of what?
Certain basic psychological needs, when fulfilled, lead to greater happiness and success. These basic psychological needs are just as important as the body’s need for food, water, and sex. Failure to meet and balance them can lead one to experience a variety of stress symptoms, burnout or divorce. After prolonged neglect of basic psychological needs, one may become physically sick, or experience signs of stress. At that juncture, it is important to take action.
Health in Positive Terms
Regrettably, many in the field of psychology and psychiatry still concentrate largely upon the diagnosis and cure of disease: stress symptoms or stress types (anxiety, anger, physical symptoms, depression and psychosis).
We have forgotten that the goal of psychology is to help individuals live healthier, happier lives, as well as identify genius and optimal adjustment in any one sphere of our lives. The medical field has spent years defining sickness. It has yet to define what it means to be well.
Dr. Yukio Ishizuka, a Harvard trained Japanese psychiatrist, however, took a different path.
Instead of focusing on disease and illness, he observed that despite the unique symptoms and backgrounds of his patients, the elements that determined their well-being or distress were strikingly predictable.
This lead to a hypothesis that there may be certain psychological spheres which when fulfilled built successful psychological health, and when unfulfilled or repeatedly neglected, caused stress symptoms and made one vulnerable to disease.
Basic Psychological Needs
By 1975, Dr. Yukio Ishizuka hypothesized that these three basic psychological needs or spheres that determined psychological health were: the search for self, the need for intimacy, and the quest for achievement.
The Three Spheres
None of the three spheres exist in isolation.
Together they dynamically interact to characterize a person’s personality. Hence, Dr. Ishizuka’s definition of psychological health is also a personality definition of man’s aspirations in a psychological sense.
Traditionally, the integrity of the Self refers to the entire personality of the individual. The Lifetrack model defines Self more narrowly as the ability and willingness to be “in touch,” “at peace, ” and “in control, ” of one’s own thoughts, feelings and actions. Such self-awareness distinguishes human beings from their achievements and from their close relationships. To be “in touch,” “at peace,” and “in control” of self requires the capacity to recognize and accept both positives and negatives in life, integrating them into a balanced perspective. It also includes the flexibility to initiate, modify, and control thoughts, feelings, and actions. We can do this by observing our Self and remaining present in the given moment.
Intimacy requires us to extend our thoughts, feelings, and actions beyond the self and become close to another human being. Many different types of intimate relationships such as those with a parent, spouse, significant other, children, friends, God or the universe bolster the psyche. A couple relationship, however, enables human beings to experience fullest union of personality, in all three dimensions of human intimacy – Intellectual/Social, Emotional, and Physical/Sexual. It is for this reason, that in Lifetrack therapy, the therapist will focus on marriage intimacy or the development of an equivalent close couple relationship.
Achievement is the capacity to reach beyond the self through the productive, creative, and the constructive expression of one’s capacities. It is an indirect way of finding an intimate union or relationship with the world in which one lives. Behind one’s work, career, athletics, hobbies or other intellectual and productive activities is the desire not only to subsist, but also to find meaning and achieve value, acceptance, respect, admiration and deep down love by doing something difficult or meaningful. A person who is either unable or unwilling to build a relationship with the world through his or her constructive capacities may turn in desperation to destruction – an attempt to be noticed and counted and freed from total insignificance by a forced relationship of dominance.
Positive Mental Health: Balance the Cycle of Life
There are trade-offs.
There are moments when one sphere becomes dominant.
However, when a person continuously chooses one sphere over the others, efforts become counter-productive. At the end of one’s life one may regret having leaned too much towards the self, having thrown oneself into a love relationship at any cost, or having been consumed by achievement.
Life Definition : Genius in All Spheres of Life
When balance is forgotten, a love of life is sacrificed. If one only experiences peace, friendliness, physical well-being, happiness and mastery in one sphere of life, then all time spent in the others spheres feels ‘wasted.’ We are not present and this is a source of great pain and frustration. To be a genius in inner well-being is to be a genius in all three spheres, to be fully present in our self, intimacy and achievement spheres.
Although these three spheres have long been the subject of poets, philosophers, intellectuals, and theologians, Dr. Ishizuka goes beyond saying that health is work, love and play. He does so by defining a whole model of human personality based on these three psychological aspirations, a method to surpass our own previous best level of adjustment in each of the three spheres, and a means to put our setbacks and fear into perspective by observing the true nature of things (objective subjective), quantifying happiness and tracking our progress. He does all of that with a great sense of balance, skill and humor. Rather than pointing to one life way or cycle of life, he has defined spheres of psychological health that define inner health at any given moment.
Life Purpose: A Model of Health Combining East-West
We all can and should come up with insights on our own happiness and health. The advantage of a model based on basic psychological needs that encompass insights from the East and West is that it helps us to better recognize, develop, and fulfill the limits and capabilities of the human psyche.
By defining psychological health in positive terms and developing a means to quantify and track it, Dr. Yukio Ishizuka is contributing to a Science of Health. In the last 35 years of his work on a model of positive mental health, over two thousand individuals have used his Lifetrack method to go beyond crisis and surpass a previous best level of psychological health.
Building Inner Health: A Life Way?
The experience of over 2000 individuals tracking daily their health in the three spheres of self (self definition), intimacy (love definition) and achievement (work definition) as well as their daily perception of their physical condition, positive peaks of well-being (peace, friendliness, physical well-being, happiness, and mastery) and negative peaks of stress (anxiety, anger, physical symptoms, depression and psychosis) has provided great insight into our desire for happiness and health, and to resistance against it.
Life Questions : Find Love? Work first? Self esteem help?
The Lifetrack personality model attempts to understand how the three spheres of self, intimacy and achievement grow, interact and influence each other in our experience of health or distress.
The question then becomes what is the best way to achieve a greater sense of well-being (peace, friendliness, physical well-being, happiness, mastery)?
Should one first seek peace in self, the realization of achievement or fulfillment in intimacy?
The answer may depend on where we are in life and who can help us should we be overwhelmed.
Experience Positive Mental Health
Regardless of the sphere one approaches inner well-being, one has to struggle to overcome stress or fear in the form of anxiety, anger, physical-symptoms, depression or even psychosis.
Fear can be triggered from a difficult past or even be dormant in people who have had positive experiences. They exist in all of us to differing degrees and can surface when we push beyond a previous best level of self, intimacy or achievement.
Reach out and Overcome Fear, Recognize Stress Types, Use Stress Techniques, Beyond ‘ I hate life ‘ to find Life Purpose
If you are overwhelmed, you may wish to reach out to loved ones or seek professional help. There is nothing wrong with that. Often it is the strongest who push themselves beyond areas where most would have given up. Anyone can reach their threshold of stress if they push themselves too hard, and too long. Each of us can experience the joy of building in the present, of living fully one’s sense of self, close relationships and meaningful achievement.
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Personality Test : Tracking Happiness and Health using the Lifetrack Model of Positive Mental Health
For those wishing to track one’s own health and gain insights on one’s Personality or pattern of coping based on love, work and play, download (3MG) Lifetrack Therapy published in the Psychiatry Journal University of Ottawa, Vol 13, No. 4, 1988. The article contains a summary of the positive mental health approach and a full definition sheet and room to track your inner health. Criteria for a Science of Happiness and Positive Mental Health Models are provided by the reknown psychologist Jahoda.
You can use such definitions to rate your experience daily.
The Lifetrack model of Positive Mental Health and Lifetrack sheet can be used to take a global look at your inner health or to surpass a previous best level of self, intimacy and achievement. Be aware as you rate yourself, you may experience resistance in the form of stress. This is good stress.
The Study of Health and Happiness by the Positive Mental Health Foundation Site and Applications to Sciences
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Copyright © 2010 Lifetrack Corporation
Nathalie Ishizuka and Dr. Yukio Ishizuka reserve the right to be recognised as the authors of the writings contained in this blog, under copyright law.
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