Psychological Capital

Are you happy?

 ‘Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness’, Martin Luther King.

The Cheltenham Literature Festival has just finished. The two-week event was exceptional and the best for many years, in my view. I took the opportunity to go along to a good number of sessions. It was memorable.

 Many experiences will stay with me. One included being asked if I was a ticket tout by a woman who couldn’t figure out why I was standing alone with a collection of event tickets in my hand. When I explained that the tickets were for talks I wanted to attend, that still didn’t satisfy her curiosity. She eventually walked away huffing and puffing, stating that as the festival is run by a charity, people like me shouldn’t be attempting to sell tickets on……..… was most bizarre and I can only assume it was something to do with my attire!

One of my other experiences (more positive) was when I went to hear about the Mexican artist and activist Frida Khalo.

 I arrived early and had plenty of time to take a stroll to the box office first.

 There was a large screen listing all of the events taking place. Each one was colour coded….black meant sold out, pink meant spaces were available.

Something struck me. There were two talks running concurrently. One was called ‘How to be Happy’ and the other ‘How not to fall apart’. Both auditoriums seat 1500 people. Both were fully sold out.

 In part it reminded me of a concept called Psychological Capital. Psychological Capital is an individual’s positive psychological state of development characterised by:

 1)        Having confidence (efficacy) to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks

2)      Making a positive attribution (optimism) about succeeding now and in the future

3)      Persevering towards goals (hope) in order to succeed

4)      Sustaining and bouncing back (resilience) to achieve and maintain success

(F. Luthans, C. M. Youssef et al, 2007)

Psy Cap.png


It can also be captured or summarised as one’s positive appraisal of circumstances and probability for success. Motivation and perseverance are key and just like showering, become a daily necessity.

No-one, including me, says that it is easy.

But, I am reminded of an old proverb I came across many years ago which says ‘Be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts’.

As for the woman who thought I was a ticket tout, I never saw her again and wonder if she still thinks that……I will certainly wear a suit next year.  

Helen Robinson