Positive Psychology

This is the fourth newsletter/blog detailing the major transformational courses that I’ve been on.

One of the best was the Masters degree in Applied Positive Psychology run by Ilona Boniwell at the University of East London.  I was lucky to be one of the first group of twenty students to be accepted onto this course and was amongst the first group to receive a masters degree in Positive Psychology in Europe.

The overall message of Positive Psychology is quite simple. As a race we are predisposed to be future minded.  This is a blessing and a curse.  We tend to be optimistic about the future and yet dissatisfied and restless.  We forget to cherish and nurture what we have and spend our time comparing ourselves to the tiny percentage of the planet who are materially better off than ourselves.

The coaching interventions in Positive Psychology encourage people to focus their attention on what works well in their lives in order to provide them with the energy and confidence to overcome their challenges.

Over the course of two years we studied many areas of wellbeing research including:

–          Can you measure wellbeing?  For example is it the absence of pain and maximisation of pleasure OR finding meaning in life OR being engaged with life OR some other personal definition of thriving and flourishing

–          Is there a value to measuring such things?  For example if you can find a valid measure of wellbeing then you can seek to ascertain what the building blocks of happiness are and perhaps align government policy, education and employment practices with interventions that boost wellbeing

–          What are the barriers to wellbeing and happiness and what practices help overcome them

–          What is the relationship between money, economic growth and happiness

–          Exploring the role of emotions on physiology, decision making and business performance. We also looked at how emotions flow between us at work and home and influence our ability to make rational decisions

–          Research around what constitutes positive aging (the secrets of successful aging)

–          Exploring the complex relationship between the promotion of wellbeing at the personal, group, national and global level.  Here we considered wisdom and how as we become more aware of the consequences of our actions we attempt to balance the optimisation of our own wellbeing with those of others.  This is a really important area.  Its about deciding who is in our tribe and who or what do we care about

–          We explored the theories about time – how our perception of time and tendency to spend our energy thinking about the past, planning for the  future or living in the present influences our wellbeing levels

–          We looked at the various ideas behind Flow theory.  This is the basic idea that attention to detail and engagement with the task in hand optimises wellbeing levels.  The practical impact on coaching strategies is that it teaches us to set goals which make us feel stretched but not stressed

–          One major area of research in Positive Psychology was around strengths – How to recognise our own inner strengths and those of our friends and colleagues and how to celebrate and use those strengths effectively.  This area covers how we find those activities in life that seem to fit, the things that we feel authentic doing and make us feel fully alive.

There are many other areas of Positive Psychology but for the next few weeks I’ll focus on each one of the above and how it helped me in my life




My friends Bridget Grenville Cleave and Charlotte Style have written some great introductory books for Positive Psychology







Posted on February 13, 2012, in Coaching, Meditation etc., positive psychology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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