Positive Psychology

Recently I’m reminded of a virtual work event that was pretty insightful. It was essentially about using positive psychology in the workplace and focussing on people’s strengths to take you from good to great.

I suppose this is a reason why company culture can be so vital to employees. I know I would personally prefer to work in an uplifting and energising environment that focussed on strengths, rather than one steeped in blame culture that focussed on weaknesses.

Goal alignment

When thoughts, feelings, or behaviours are out of alignment, cognitive dissonance results and discomfort occurs.

If what you’re doing or working on no longer fits with what you think or how you feel, then it can make you question why you’re doing what you’re doing. I view this as the bigger picture perspective.

Self efficacy

The belief that one has the capabilities to execute the actions needed to deliver results, or a person’s perception of their ability to reach a goal.

People will be more inclined to take on a task if they believe they can succeed. And sometimes people need a little external encouragement from others before they can believe in themselves to reach their goal. It’s not rocket science that if someone tells you that you aren’t good enough or that you’ll do a bad job, then you likely won’t try as hard.

I imagine it like going to the gym in the pre pandemic days, where having a personal trainer encourage, enthuse, and believe in you would foster better results than having a personal trainer verbally attack you at every rep.


I’ve written about flow and flow state before, where challenge or demands are at (or just above) current level of skill. Essentially, it’s the sweet spot of being in the zone. An example would be where all rewards of painting come from painting itself.

It’s a theory now known as intrinsic motivation, where motivation comes from the activity rather than the result or consequence. I view this as the detailed, day to day, perspective.


When thinking and attention are broadened by positive emotions, one begins to believe that there is an opportunity behind every adversity.

Apparently optimistic people are more likely to work hard planning for the future. I recall the virtual event explaining about looking internally and inwards, but I feel external encouragement can help people too.

I think about the times I’ve baked cakes and they don’t look like how I wanted them to look, but people still said they tasted great. It encouraged me to continue baking and I’d view baking the next time as an opportunity to improve and not a chore.

Applying this to video games

I kind of see this in video games too. In the game Hades, every time you die you start all over again from the beginning. That’s negative psychology, I suppose, punishment for dying or making a mistake in a game.

But there are added extras to show that you’ve progressed, like characters comedically saying “hello again” and an extra part of the storyline is revealed each time you start over. This way, when you restart from the beginning it can be seen as another opportunity.

This doesn’t quite translate in the workplace though. If you have to redo or repeat the same task, it is what it is, there is no extra storyline that gets revealed on the third try.

Likewise, in the game Bloodborne every time you die you start from the beginning of the level. When I first watched the hubby play this game I thought it was relentlessly evil, as not only do you die and restart, but you lose your experience which prevents you from buying things or levelling up in the game.

The progression is definitely more subtle here. The game gives you optional boss fights more frequently so you have some semblance of levelling up and progression. In Bloodborne there is no storyline, so unlike Hades, the storyline is not a motivation to play.

This game rewards you for exploration, or just the activity of playing the game itself rather than the end result. By exploring, the game gives you shortcuts to bypass enemies to get you to the bosses quicker without dying. Exploring also allows you to find hidden areas and hidden items that unlock alternative endings.

I suppose in the workplace, this could be seen as working smarter instead of working harder if you have to redo or repeat a task.


I wondered why the hubby was playing these, what I thought were, torturous games. The bigger picture goal alignment in these games would be defeating the bosses or uncovering the storyline. In the workplace it would be working at a company whose culture suited you or you use or believe in the product.

The more detailed flow state in the games would be the game play, exploring, the items you pick up, or the attacks you perform. In the workplace it would be the literal day to day detailed tasks performed.

Self efficacy and perspective may be linked. If you believe you can complete a game then, in these examples, each time you die and restart would be seen as a new opportunity. In the workplace it would be belief that you could complete a task and do well to be given opportunities to perform new tasks.

Personally, I quite like positive psychology, and it’s interesting to see it in different aspects of human life. If something aligns with your goal, you (or others) believe you can do it, and you actually enjoy doing it, then you could become a great gym goer, baker, or even video game player.

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