“Recently, psychology has begun to study people whose lives are successful in health, relationships, and work. What could we learn if we studied couples who are enjoying their marriages, families who are thriving, children who are successful in school, and people in stressful jobs who are nevertheless healthy, happy, and who go home to good relationships?”
Robert Maurer, PhD is a faculty member with the UCLA School of Medicine, and teaches workshops on psychology and adult development, especially related to creative expression.
In his article Writing: An Art or Science? (the source of the above quote) he talks about how psychology “has begun to study people whose lives are successful in health, relationships, and work…
“This approach has worked in other areas of science; medicine, for example, has made its greatest strides by looking at who isn’t getting a disease and trying to figure out why.
“So about five years ago, I began to collect studies conducted throughout the world, on people who succeeded in all three areas of life: work, relationships, and health, at last count, over fifty studies existed.”
He adds, “Although a brief description of the four skills successful people share does not do them justice, let me list them: one, an awareness of the need for attention as well as generosity in giving and receiving appreciation; two, an awareness and respect for fear-a willingness to feel it and to reach for comfort ; three, when afraid, successful people have a built in “nurturing voice” that automatically and compassionately reassures them that “it is okay to make mistakes, okay to be afraid, okay to ask for help.
“And fourth, successful people possess a sense of mission or vision: they are clear about their goals, and their sense of purpose sustains them in crisis.”
Dr. Maurer also writes about how this research is helpful for writers in developing authentic characters and stories.