Elaine O'Brien, PhD, MAPP '08, CAPP, is founder of Move2Love Training & Positive Therapy. She received her PhD in Kinesiology from the Temple University College of Public Health, Well-Being and Social Justice. A positive psychology, performance, and fitness/lifestyle medicine strategist, Elaine aims at enhancing the quality of life and vibrant health of her community and business clients. Elaine has given presentations around the world inspiring people to move more, enjoyably, and well. Full bio. Elaine's articles are here.
Practicing positivity, building love, and increasing well-being are particularly beneficial in the contexts of sustainability, social responsibility, the body-mind-spirit connection, positive health promotion, educating the whole person, and celebrating strengths. This message was conveyed powerfully during the 2nd conference hosted by the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP).
I concur with Bridget Grenville-Cleave (3 Keynotes from CAPP) and Timothy So (Highlights) that the CAPP conference was an extraordinary experience. It was a thrill to join more than 230 delegates from 25 countries. The event was a ‘paradox of [positive] choice’ featuring 8 keynote speakers, 6 organizational case studies, panel discussions, symposiums, round table discussions, and over 60 workshops, papers, and posters.
In lieu of a plaque, each keynote presenter was awarded a “living gift” in the form of sponsorship of a Ugandan child in need. At the conference dinner, Robert Biswas-Diener (Biswas means Peace) presided over a rollicking book auction that raised hundreds of pounds for the centre’s humanitarian Strength’s Project.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -14th Century Dalai Lama
Beyond the Call
Another conference highlight was the screening of the prize winning film, Beyond the Call, by gregarious, gracious and generous filmmaker, Adrian Belic. This moving documentary follows three Americans who travel to the world’s war zones “in service to humanity.” Intrinsically motivated and filled with self determination, these surprising heroes provide food, medicine, shelter, and compassion to the people who need it most.
Charged with positive emotion, the film has been described as a “Mother-Teresa-meets-Indiana-Jones adventure.” The movie follows Sir Ed Artis, Sir Jim Laws and Sir Walt Ratterman to Afghanistan, Albania, Chechnya, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Rwanda and the Philippines, “into the heart of humanity in need when little, if any other, aid is around.” Their organization, Knightsbridge International, is committed to deliver aid—whether cash, food, medicine or renewable energy—directly to the clinic, school or hospital that needs it, without involving third parties. They have been inspired by the Knights of Malta, exemplars of humanitarianism and high adventure for more than 900 years.
“The Knights of Malta” – Sir Ed Artis, Sir Jim Laws and Sir Walt Ratterman
“I solemnly swear…to aid those less fortunate than I, to relieve the distress of the world and to fulfill my knightly obligations.” — The Oath of a Knight of Malta (1560 A.D.)
“Mindfulness is not so much about doing as about being.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
It was standing room only for a panel led by Felicia Huppert called Mind Power: The Science of Mindfulness Meditation.
Dr. Huppert described a self-report study on well-being for schoolboys who meditated for 4 weeks, 8 minutes each day using an MP3 file. The findings showed significant increases in well-being with reduced incidence of depression. Further reviews and meta-analyses of meditation studies generally confirmed the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation across a wide range of conditions.
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. With roots in Buddhism, meditation techniques help us shift thoughts away from usual preoccupations toward greater
appreciation of the moment, and a greater perspective on life. There are different ways to practice mindfulness including mindful moving meditations and group meditation.
Embracing Eustress as a Perspective for Positive Change
Eustress is defined as stress that is healthy, or gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings. In 1975, Hans Selye coined Eustress, eu from the Greek, meaning either “well” or “good”. When attached to the word “stress”, it literally means “good stress.” Eustress is a process of exploring potential gains.
Selye’s 1975 model divided stress into two major components: eustress and distress. This model is based on his earlier work on the General Adaptation System (GAS). Persistent, unresolved distress may lead to anxiety, withdrawal or depression. In contrast, eustress enhances mind-body functions such as learning to dance or performing challenging work. Other sources of eustress might be an engaging relationship, running a race, riding a roller-coaster, going on vacation, enjoying holidays, going back to school, taking a yoga class or practicing mindfulness meditation. Eustress is usually related to positive changes in life.
It seems that Adrian Belic and his brave, kind-hearted knights thrive on eustress, facing their fears to contribute to the world. Attending the CAPP conference was a eustressful experience for me, and now, a month later, I am still bathed in a positive glow, optimistically inspired and aiming my trajectory for positive social change and the greater good.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Delta.
Selye, H. (1975). Stress without Distress. Signet.
Selye, H. (1978). The Stress of Life. McGraw-Hill.
Selye (1975). Confusion and controversy in the stress field. Journal of Human Stress, 1(2), 37-44.
Seyle, Hans (1936). A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents. Nature 138: 32. doi:10.1038/138032a0.
Schwartz, B. (2004). The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. New York: Ecco.
meditation courtesy of HaPe_Gera.
Stress curve from Michael Lank
Other images used with permission from the Beyond the Call Web site.