Friday Morning Discussion Group June 2018

“Positive Psychology”

Rosemary Curtis led the discussion on Friday 1st June. She set out to give us all an idea of the broad approach to Positive Psychology that has been adopted at Adelaide High School, with the aim of increasing the mental well being of both teachers and students and how we could use this to enhance our own lives. It was an approach to Psychology most of us had never heard of but felt had great merit. We certainly had a lively discussion but felt we only brushed the surface of this fascinating topic.

Rose outlined that the starting point for this program at AHS was to do the VIA character strength survey:

Learn Your Character Strengths. Live Your Potential.

The VIA Survey of Character Strengths is a simple self-assessment that takes less than 15 minutes and provides a wealth of information to help you understand your core characteristics. Most personality tests focus on negative and neutral traits, but the VIA Survey focuses on your best qualities.

Created under the direction of Dr. Martin Seligman, the “father of Positive Psychology” and author of Authentic Happiness and Flourish, and Dr. Christopher Peterson, distinguished scientist at the University of Michigan and author of A Primer in Positive Psychology, and validated by Robert McGrath, Ph.D., the VIA Survey is regarded as a central tool of positive psychology and has been used in hundreds of research studies and taken by over 5 million people in over 190 countries resulting in better workplaces… schools… teams…LIVES the world over.

Another website on Positive Psychology is below and enables you to do the “Wheel of Life Survey”

>> Download the handout The Wheel of Life Survey

Next participants had to do the “creating a strength based habit task”. The students were encouraged to choose from one of their top 3-5 strengths (signature strengths) and then commit to developing that strength further, for 10 minutes a day over the period of a month.

>> Download the handout  24 Character Strengths – Identify Your Top Five for a Better Life
>> Download the handout  Classification Of Character Strengths

The PERMA model designed by Martin Seligman, which has five core elements of psychological well being and happiness was the model AHS liked best and used:

PERMA Model of Positive PsychologyThe PERMA model was designed by Martin Seligman with five core element of psychological well-being and happiness. Seligman believes that these five elements can help people reach a life of fulfillment, happiness, and meaning. This model can also be applied to institutions to develop programs to help people develop new cognitive and emotional tools.

>> Download the handout The Perma Model

>> Download the handout  Two Models of Positive Psychology

Rose showed us the TED talk by Emily Esfarhan Smith “There’s More To Life than Being Happy – The Four Pillars of Meaning” 

Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there’s a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life — serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you — gives you something to hold onto. Learn more about the difference between being happy and having meaning as Smith offers four pillars of a meaningful life.

Extra resources:

  • Martin Seligman’s book Flourish is worth looking out for.
  • Barbara Fredrickson’s books Love 2.0 – how our supreme emotion affects everything we think, feel, do and become, and also ‘Positivity are good references.
  • Barbara Fredrickson has several Youtube talks on this subject:  Positive emotions open our mind;  Positive emotions transform us.
  • Carol Dweck is another author mentioned.  Her book ‘Positivity’ contains some research in this area, mainly the value of positivity and how one might decrease negativity.
  • Karen Reivich,  The Resilience Factor