Positive Psychology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I recently returned from The First World Congress on Positive Psychology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.??In keeping with the P theme -?one word encapsulates my experience there: Powerful!? What follows is a summary of a few of my key?take-aways from the Congress.

Ed Diener spoke on ?New Findings on Happiness?: there is a difference between wanting and liking?happiness is?impacted most when we learn to WANT what we LIKE.? You might WANT the high-paying executive job, but not LIKE the work that comes with that job.? If you LIKE the outdoors, learn to WANT or desire finding work that helps you do what you?LIKE.? He also shared some findings about the latest Positive Psychology research, like the study you might have read that said married people are happier.? Diener said the newest research is showing ? not so much that married people are happier ? but that happier people tend to be married!? Interesting?

Giovanni Fava, from Italy,?spoke on??Well-Being?Therapy?: he?shared?a powerful example of how?people can identify and modify dysfuctional beliefs (or thoughts) to?positively affect their well-being.? For example, if you keep a journal of your internal dialogue throughout the day and you notice a?thought like ?I can?t do this?, you can immediately decide to change the thought to ?I can?do the best I can and see what happens?.? They key is to identify the dysfuctional thought and then consider a modification of that thought, and notice what happens in terms of how you feel.? One way to?modify the internal dialogue is to write down what an ?external observer? might say about the situation that is causing you difficulty; record an alternative interpretation?then notice what might shift for you.

Michael Frese, from Germany, discussed positive psychology at work ? his research confirms that people do best at work when they are active; being able to set goals and take personal initiative positively affect achievement at work.? There is a ?clear and strong correlation between personal initiative (which engages and ignites positive emotion) and performance?.

Raymond Fowler discussed positive health and positive aging in his session ?how to?die young as late as possible?.? He made a compelling?argument to support the point that when you die is?a matter of choice ? or a series of choices (eating, exercising, all the stuff we all know).? Positive emotion is critical in a long life; happier people are healthier (fewer bad habits, better nutrition, take better care of themselves).

Barbara Fredrickson discussed Positivity ? the Pathway to Flourishing.? She shared her ?positivity prescription? on 3 to 1 to reinforce that you need the levity of positivity to counterweight the gravity of negativity.? Fredrickson shared her ?Broaden and Build? theory of positive emotion; when you experience and express positive emotion, you live longer.? It?s not enough just to ?be positive?, the positive emotion must be genuine and heartfelt.? To create a mindset of positivity. be:

  • open
  • appreciative
  • curious
  • kind
  • real (authentic)?sincerity counts!

Visit Fredrickson?s website for free resources.

David Cooperrider was a true highlight at the conference.? He completely captivated the audience with his hopeful message on ?The Discovery and Design of Positive Institutions?.? Mr. Cooperrider, generous in nature, makes his slides from the conference available at aicommons@case.edu.? The message from Appreciative Inquiry is ?change at the scale of the whole?.? Ai involves a shift to see the world anew.? Mr. Cooperrider shared with us a foundation of AI; that the question we ask determines what we find.? If we look for deficits (what?s wrong here?) we find more deficits; if we look for possibilities (what?s right here?) we find more possibility.? Most organizations look for what?s wrong and let strengths take care of themselves.? AI encourages us to focus on strengths and the weaknesses will take care of themselves.? The approach is 1) appreciate the best of what is,?imagine what might be, design what could be and create what will be.? The key is in the inquiry?the inquiry?must be the change we wish to see in the world (not the one we want to avoid or to eliminate).

The conference ended with some words from Chris Peterson that encouraged us to look in the mirror as we are the future, and Martin Seligman, renouned as the father of Positive Psychology, who introduced a new term, ?Positive Neuroscience?.? I, for one, am looking forward to hearing more about that in the future.? What about you?

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