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Home » All, Global Policies, Gratitude, Pathway 2 "Engagement / Flow", _1 Positive Experiences

MAPP Magic

By on October 15, 2007 – 10:36 am  9 Comments

Douglas B. Turner, MAPP '06, is Corporate Vice President, Talent Management, for Balfour Beatty Construction,overseeing human resources, including leadership, management, employee training and development, team development, employee recruitment and retention, employee relations, and compliance. Full bio.

Doug's articles are here.



At the risk of gaining a reputation as a major name dropper, I want to tell you about attending the Positive Psychology Summit in Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago.  I thoroughly enjoyed it all.  It was fun to catch up with some my classmates from the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania.  Senia Maymin, Kathryn Britton, Nick Hall, David Pollay, Margaret Greenberg, Caroline Miller, and Tom Rath are all happy and going strong.  I also saw Jordan Silberman, but never got to talk to him.  What a wonderful group of accomplished people.

Meeting members of the MAPP 2.0 and MAPP 3.0 classes was also a treat.  I was very impressed with the Poster Session where some of the MAPP 2.0 graduates shared their capstone research projects.  All the members of the MAPP 3.0 class had that eager, excited, and somewhat overwhelmed look on their faces that all the MAPP alumni have known so well.

It was also great to see and hear from Martin Seligman again and to catch up with James Pawelski and Debbie Swick.  It was fun to listen to Chris Peterson and Nansook Park talk about their ongoing research.  Their enthusiasm for their work is truly infectious.  I had a brief conversation with Ed Diener and enjoyed his enthusiasm for advancing the field and kicking off the new International Positive Psychology Association.

  Everett Worthington

In addition, I enjoyed meeting some more positive psychologists whose work I have read and admired.  I enjoyed talking to Everett Worthington from Virginia Commonwealth University about his work with decisional and emotional forgiveness. (By the way, Dr. Worthington mentioned that he is working a book on humility that should be available in the spring of 2008.)  I enjoyed talking to Robert Emmons from the University of California, Davis about his work on gratitude.  Mike Morrison from Toyota talked about personal leadership. Alex Linley from the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology, UK talked about building strength-based organizations.  Roy Baumeister from the University of Florida talked about free will.

Ilona Boniwell

As I talked to old friends and made new ones, Ilona Boniwell’s presentation came to mind over and over again.  Ilona is a Senior Lecturer in Positive Psychology from the University of East London, UN.  She spoke in one of the pre-forum sessions about teaching positive psychology in a postgraduate setting.  Toward the end of her presentation, she mentioned that there seemed to be a “magic to MAPP.”  She said that she has noticed that the people who study positive psychology in her program seem to see their studies as a calling.  She said that positive psychologists seem drawn to the field and they sense a bond with other students that holds them together.

I saw this calling in the eyes of my classmates, in the faces of the new MAPP 3.0 class, and in the presentations from the notables in the field.  I also remember some of my classmates sharing their stories about how they found themselves in the MAPP program at the University of Pennsylvania.  In those stories my classmates talked about something “clicking” inside them that compelled them to pursue further study.  The sacrifices these wonderful people then made to study positive psychology are testament to the depth of their commitment.

I know that something “clicked” inside of me.  I still enjoy reading my text books (imagine that!).  I still buy the new books and I left the Positive Psychology Summit with a new and long list of books to read.  (They’ve been ordered and I’m eagerly awaiting their arrival.)  I can’t wait to see what new thoughts and applications will arise as the research in positive psychology continues.
 


 
References

Boniwell, I. (2006). Positive Psychology in a Nutshell (2nd Edition). London: PWBC.

Emmons, R. (2007) Thanks!: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. Boston: Houghton Mifflan Company.

Morrison, M. (2006). The Other Side of the Card: Where Your Authentic Leadership Story Begins. McGraw-Hill Education.

Worthington, E. (2007). Humility: The Quiet Virtue. Templeton Press.

9 Comments »

  • Senia says:

    Hi Doug,
    I’ve thought about this a bit too – what are the components of the “Magic of MAPP.”

    Two things that I think are a big deal are that

    1) The content of what we study is actually applicable to our lives. We can go home from an on-site session and practice it. We can journal a la Laura King. We can use strengths in a new way, a la Peterson, Seligman, Park, Steen. We can have a more optimistic explanatory style, a la Martin Seligman. We can listen to the elephant, a la Jon Haidt. It’s doable and actionable. To me, this is like you describing “being called to it” – we are all very much into the content. It’s useful, we like it – we would read it, like you describe, even outside of MAPP.

    2) How we study it is very condusive to the content of what we study – we actually do energy breaks (psychsomatic), we use ACR in class, we have wide open discussions about pros and cons. It creates an environment that people call safe.

    Thanks for bringing up this discussion, Doug,
    Senia

  • Dave Shearon says:

    Thanks, Doug! You’re really making me sorry I missed it!

    In thinking about the “magic of MAPP”, I recall Chris Peterson’s summary of the findings of positive psychology on the first day of our MAPP program: “Other people matter.” I think there’s something in the group dynamics of folks studying this stuff — and trying it out as Senia notes — that creates a dynamic over and above just the content of the material or our individual applications of the principles.

  • Doug Turner says:

    Thanks David and Senia: You reminded me of my capstone project. Jennifer Housmann and I did a program evaluation of MAPP 1.0. Over 80% of the class agreed or stongly agreed that they experienced and valued the following positive psychology concepts more as a result of the MAPP program: Gratitude, Hope, Optimism, Resilience, Positive Emotion, My Signature Strengths, Love of Learning, and Curiosity. Also, 77% of the class indiacted that their pariticipation in the MAPP program increased their happiness overall. Finally, 93% of the class indicated that the MAPP experience was either a positive experience or “one of the best experiences of my life.”

    These positive results may be atributed to your point, Senia and to yours, David. Doing the things we were learning about and doing them with others made for a wonderful experience.

    The good news is that we also learned about savoring and we can practice that too by keeping in touch with the material and with each other.

    All the best, Doug

  • Hi Doug,
    I still light up when I think about seeing you and everyone else last week, and the funny thing is that other people noticed, too, and asked why I looked so happy! 🙂 I had to stop and think about why seeing you and everyone else, hearing exciting research that fuels my calling and passion for Positive Psych, and having my brain stimulated in such fun way had such a positive impact, and I just wish I could do it more often. It reminds me of the time one of my children instructed me, on a day when I looked down, to get into my car and drive back to Penn because “You always are happy when you come back from there!”

    Out of the mouths of babes, huh?

    Boo!
    Caroline

  • Kirsten Cronlund says:

    Hi Doug, Senia, and Caroline,

    Speaking as a “babe” in the MAPP program (I’m currently enrolled in MAPP 3.0 right now), I have to echo the statements you have all made about the program. There truly is something magical about being able to put immediately into practice the theories I’m learning, and to have them positively impact the people in my life and myself.

    The other magical thing that I want to underscore has to do with the entire field of Positive Psychology. I have been blown away by the openness to new ideas (even from an infant like myself) that I have encountered from every person I’ve spoken to who is involved in positive psychology. One of my fears in going into the program was that I might meet up with stodgy intellectuals who were disconnected from the human aspect of this field. I am thrilled to report that I have encountered only the opposite. Let’s keep the magic going!

  • Kirsten Cronlund says:

    Oops. I didn’t mean to leave you out of the last posting, Dave. My comments are directed to your staements as well.

  • Doug Turner says:

    Kirsten:
    Thanks for your thoughts. I wish we all had more time at the Summit to meet and talk. I would have enjoyed meeting all the MAPP 3.0 people and hearing your stories. I agree with your comment about the openness of those involved in positive psychology. I hope we all hang on to that important quality.
    Enjoy your MAPP 3.0 program – it goes by so fast.
    All the best, Doug

  • Louis Alloro says:

    I second Kirsten’s sentiments from another babe in 3.0! How about scheduling a MAPP event for alum and current students sometime within the next few months? We can do something in Philly at the tail-end of one of our on-sites. Thoughts?

  • Doug Turner says:

    I asked Dr. Boniwell to send me the other components of the “MAGIC” she discussed in her presentation at the Summit. I received them from her this morning. MAPP people:

    – Have a sense of being “called.”
    – Are fun and have positive emotions.
    – Experience an openness to transformation.
    – Seek out intellectual stimulation.
    – Have a sense of “connectedness.”
    – Perceive a larger meaning.

    All of these reflect my experience…

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