Symposium 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

What Are Waves Anyway? (#144)

Tim Lomas 1
  1. Psychology, University of East London, London, United Kingdom

What does it mean to speak of a ‘second wave’ within positive psychology? Essentially, the notion of a wave implies a new phase of development in a given field. But the metaphor itself is revealing. It implies dynamic fluidity rather than stepwise, punctuated change. Moreover, rather than phases having clearly delineated boundaries, they are blurry and overlapping – just as one ocean wave cannot be cleanly separated from the next. Indeed, new pulses of academic energy are continually being initiated, generating new ripples of ideas; it is a matter of opinion whether these ripples then cumulatively add up to a distinct wave. Pushing the metaphor further, waves do not represent the horizontal movement of water per se, but energy pulses passing through it (moving it vertically). In that respect, scholars are more like surfers or swimmers in the sea, who may find themselves being ‘moved’ by the charge of the passing wave … and potentially embracing its dynamics, perhaps choosing to ride that particular crest. And surely the ripples and waves will keep coming. A field as energised as positive psychology will continue developing and evolving, generating new currents of ideas and practice. All we need to do is keep mounting our surfboards and enjoy the ride.