I’ve been alluding to some big “life change” for several weeks and I know you’re all on the edge of your seats, biting your lips with anticipation, as you wait for the big announcement. Sadly, this is the type of life change that is going to affect me more than it’s going to affect you. I don’t have a big giveaway planned or any huge project about to hit the shelves. What I’ve been meaning to announce for a while, and is now official, is that I will be attending graduate school in the fall to earn a master’s degree in Positive Developmental Psychology.
In August (most likely) I’ll be moving from my apartment in the northern suburbs of Detroit to Southern California’s Claremont Graduate University. CGU is only one of two programs in the United States that offers an advanced degree (and the only one to offer a doctorate) in positive psychology.
WHY CLAREMONT GRADUATE UNIVERSITY?
Besides the fact that they are one of two universities that offered the program I’m interested in, I have some other reasons for attending CGU:
- Comfort zone destruction: I grew up in Michigan, went to college in northwest Ohio and obviously feel very comfortable in a midwestern environment. I’ve traveled a little bit to places like Ireland, Hungary, and various locales in the U.S., but not for very long. I’ve never lived further than two hours from my childhood home. Moving across the country will be a brand new experience for me — and one I think will cause me to grow as a person.
- The faculty: One of the most life changing books I’ve ever read is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This book opened my eyes to the discipline of positive psychology and the untapped power that lies beneath the surface in all of us. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi is a faculty member at CGU and will be teaching several of the classes I’ll be taking during my time in the program. The opportunity to study with and learn from one of the founding fathers of positive psychology is an incredible opportunity that I can’t pass up.
WHY POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY (AND WHAT IS IT?)
Positive psychology is a fairly new academic discipline that focuses on the characteristics, habits, and traits of human flourishing. Topics like motivation, optimal experience, flow, happiness, resilience, and perseverance all fall under the umbrella of positive psychology. More specifically, my program of positive developmental psychology focuses on the positive aspects of human development and how those characteristics can be encouraged and nurtured.
As far as why I’m going to be studying positive psychology, I have you to thank. I started this blog almost a year and a half ago to fill the void of not having a full-time job. I decided to write about topics that interested me. That turned out to be how to live a simpler, more meaningful and more conscious life. I didn’t realize when I first started that there was an actual academic discipline that was interested in these same phenomenon. As I continued to write and grow this blog positive psychology slowly made its way into my consciousness. Finally, I decided that the passion I awakened by running The Simpler Life was something that I should pursue beyond my amateur writings here. I want to take my interest in helping people live more meaningful lives to a professional level. I want to contribute to the research that is being done to improve the lives of people across the world.
It seems like the ultimate goal of many bloggers is to go “professional”. For most, that means making enough money from their blog to live their life. It’s an admirable goal but one I don’t think I’ll ever meet. However, I see myself as stepping on to the scene of professional blogging in a different way. Instead of providing me with an income, my blog has provided me with an outlet to explore and develop my passion. Now, that passion and interest I developed by creating The Simpler Life is going to be fostered into a new environment, a graduate degree and hopefully a career helping people live better lives.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SAMSPURLIN.COM?
All in all, not too much. I don’t leave for California until August so until then I’ll have a lot of time to create as much content for the site as possible. Obviously, once I start classes my free time will be significantly curtailed. At that time I may have to cut back my posting schedule, but I won’t be closing the doors on The Simpler Life. In fact, I have a feeling that I’m going to have more ideas and “stuff” to write about than ever once I start spending my days learning and talking about positive psychology with like minded people.
Over time this blog will probably subtly shift focus from simplicity towards more specific issues of positive psychology. I still think simplicity has a role in a meaningful life, so I’ll never truly leave that topic behind. I just know that positive psychology is a broad and vast topic that will never be exhausted by my writing efforts here. My writing may take a more scientific bent over the next couple years but the focus will always be on applying those scientific principles to actual lives. I will always continue to write about my own experiences and experiments in conscious living.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU
Really, the purpose of this article is to thank you guys for helping me clarify my life path. Without the readers that have made The Simpler Life a success, I doubt I would have stuck with it long enough to realize this is where my passion is. Because of you I will be studying a topic that I have uncovered a true love and desire to learn more about. You guys are the reason I’ve become a “professional” blogger. Thanks for always being there. I hope my experiences at CGU will serve as fodder for creating excellent content for you guys in the future. It’s definitely the least I could do.