On a more individual level, The Spire School employs the principles of Positive Psychology and building self-efficacy. Positive Psychology is a scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to survive and thrive. Contrary to the problem-focused models of traditional psychology, Positive Psychology asserts that an enriched, productive and fulfilling life involves far more than just the resolution of problems.

This emerging field of psychology is founded on the humanistic belief that individuals innately strive to lead meaningful and satisfying lives, to develop/refine their strengths, and to enhance their experiences of attachment, work, and play. Positive Psychology defines ‘happiness’ as three realms: positive emotion, life engagement, and meaningfulness. Further, Positive Psychology asserts that when external or internal events impede one’s growth toward happiness, individuals can be taught skills that increase positive emotion, engagement, and meaning.

Dr. Martin Seligman, director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center indicates that contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future lead to better health, performance, longevity, and social success. In an effort to reduce rumination and future-fretting, students at The Spire School are encouraged to be mindful of the present and to reflect upon their pasts with a constructive focus, while developing goals for the future. This is addressed through Spire’s “Know Thyself” curriculum, self-reflective journaling, discussion with peers, and individual sessions with a student’s Life Coach.

The Spire School applies principles of Positive Psychology, to shape the optimal performance and achievement of students by aiding their understanding of and applications for creativity, courage, resilience, curiosity, integrity, self-reflection, self-control, teamwork, work ethic, tolerance and compassion. Of particular interest are the mind-body connection and the reciprocal relationships of healthy physiological and psychological functioning.

Research suggests, for example, that altruistic and compassionate activities, such as those associated with volunteer work, create a “helper’s high” – a sense of euphoria triggered by the dopamine reward system in our brains. As a result, helping behaviors translate into feeling stronger, more energetic, calmer, and less depressed/anxious, thereby increasing feelings of self-worth and improving social competence.