Two of the themes of positive psychology that make the field relevant are resilience and thriving: how some people not only endure but transcend even devastating hardships to find new strengths and continue to realize their talents.
In an article, Paul Pearsall, PhD writes:
“In 1801, at age 31, Ludwig van Beethoven had become suicidal. He lived in poverty, was losing his hearing, and wallowed in the depths of withdrawn despair and hopelessness.
“Twenty-three years later, utterly deaf, no longer suicidal, and, instead, energetically creative, he immortalized Schiller’s life-affirming “Ode to Joy” in the lyrical chords of his Ninth Symphony.
“Beethoven can be seen as one of the superstars of thriving. He did not suddenly transform himself from Beethoven – someone living in helpless despair – to a person living in constant joy and elation.
“Like Beethoven, thrivers know how to weave and keep reweaving the fabric of their lives even when forces keep tearing at it. By constantly recreating their own consciousness, they are able to do what Beethoven did. They remain the creative composers of their own consciousness.”
From article An Ode to Thriving, By Paul Pearsall, PhD
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In an interview about his book, Pearsall explains the Beethoven Factor is “SIG – Stress Induced Growth. Like the composer, there are persons for whom adversity is a stimulus for personal growth and creativity. Also like Beethoven, they aren’t ‘super humans.’
“Like all of us, they are flawed beings, but something within and about them allows them to construe their lives with an upward psychological trajectory even when things seem at their worst.
“They are not just naive blind optimists. They are ‘benefit finders’ who can discover growth where many others see only disaster.”
Book: The Beethoven Factor: The New Positive Psychology of Hardiness, Happiness, Healing, and Hope by Paul Pearsall, PhD.