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Three Lessons from the 1st Applied Positive Psychology Conference

By on April 25, 2007 – 4:20 pm  13 Comments

Timothy So, Msc, is a PhD candidate in Psychology in the University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry. He is a Research Associate of Cambridge University's Well-being Institute and a Chartered Occupational Psychologist. Timothy is also responsible for both the Traditional and the Simplified Chinese PPND sites. Full bio.

Timothy's articles are here and here.



CAPPEU logoApplied Positive Psychology Conference last week hosted by the Center for Applied Positive Psychology in the UK (CAPP), I realized that I came away with three strong lessons. The 3-day conference turned out to be a great success, and I learned much more than I expected.

Putting Positive Psychology in Practice in YOUR Practice

I was a student volunteer for the event. Two hours before the conference registration, I was packing conference materials with Dr. Alex Linley, the Founder and Director of CAPP, and I asked Alex about the mission of CAPP and his beliefs. He replied, “To do everything that is most practical to extend and apply positive psychology to make a positive impact on society.”

I think every student who is interested in positive psychology should have this attitude: to put positive psychology in practice in YOUR practice. As Martin Seligman said, a meaningful life is using your signature strengths in the service of something much larger than you.

Expanding Positive Psychology Geographically

I have never seen a powerpoint presentation with so many great pictures as the one prepared by Robert Biswas-Diener about his experience traveling around the world and studying happiness, with pictures he took in Kenya, Greenland, and many other countries. Apart from appreciating his amusing presentation style, I enjoyed the meaning in his talk. I was inspired by the idea of developing cultural awareness of applied positive psychology, especially in developing/non-industrialized countries (as Giselle Nicholson writes about here and here).

Most of us are living in industrialized countries, and most research studies on positive psychology are examining happiness in industrialized countries. What about those third world countries in which people are less wealthy, with poorer social welfare and health care systems, and a lower education rate? Positive psychology should not merely be applied around us. By expanding to those living in poorer conditions, a much better and brighter future awaits us.

Reflecting and Positive Psychology

I am honored to be supervised by Michael West in my studies at Aston Business School. Professor Michael West‘s presentation addressed what we should actually do to increase happiness and flourishing in organizations. In his presentation, “Surfing through Change to Create Flourishing Organizations”, Michael West pointed out how we can use our wisdom, courage, love, justice, temperance and transcendence in order to develop in organizations. During his presentation, he raised four theme questions for people to reflect on:

  • Am I helping others?
  • Am I taking time out to reflect and grow?
  • Am I true to myself?
  • Am I focused on my core purpose?

I strongly believe that the process of reflecting has a large role in enhancing individual well-being, team spirit, and organizational effectiveness. My mind was filled with questions after the presentation (Should I spend some time every day thinking about the above questions? How can I become a better person?), and I was pleased to see so many other conference participants discussing these same questions after the talk.

All Three Lessons Contribute to the World

George Bernard Shaw said, “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for circumstances they want, and if they cannot find them, make them.” I can see from all CAPP organizers, keynotes speakers, paper and workshop presenters that they are trying their very best to create and develop the circumstances for applying positive psychology to Health, Educational and Organizational settings. In summary from the above three lessons, the most meaningful concept from the conference was that there are many ways to apply enthusiasm to contribute to the world.

13 Comments »

  • Editor S.M. says:

    Timothy, thank you for the guest article!

  • Elsie says:

    thanks timothy, every now and then I’d sit in my office staring into the monitor trying to figure out what the data mean / how I may get this stuff published… “what boring and meaningless life, will it go on like this forever?” I heard myself asking.
    your article certainly reminded me that what we are doing has meaning. and for that I thank you.
    looking forward to read your next article.

  • Gigi says:

    Timothy,

    So great to see your article – thanks for sharing with those of us who wish we could’ve attended! I also love that we’ve ‘virtually’ connected on the issue of bringing positive psychology to all world citizens and most notably to those in developing countries. The potential applications and impact of positive psychology to these people inspires and thrills me.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on the conference!

  • Timothy says:

    Thanks Senia! This my pleasure that I could contribute and be benefited also by writing here in addition to reading. Thanks for your encouragement and support always. I am looking forward to sharing more in the News Daily.

  • Timothy says:

    Elsie, I am sure you will have great success on your research and get published, as you know you are doing a meaningful job. Glad to see your nice comment. Benjamin Franklin once said “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Your comment makes me feel that my writing is worth reading :)
    Thanks~

  • Timothy says:

    Yeah, you are right, Gigi. Extensive applications do maximize the benefits of positive psychology. We should not neglect the developing countries.
    Several related events like the 2007 Global Well Being Forum and the European Conference of Positive Psychology are coming, I am so much looking forward and hope to see you there!

  • Margaret says:

    Timothy – first, CONGRATULATIONS on being a guest author! And second, thank you sharing your lessons learned from the CAPP conference. I especially like your professor’s 4 powerful questions — they make for great coaching inquires. Warm regards, Margaret

  • Timothy says:

    Margaret, it wouldn’t happen without your support, and I did meet all the great ppl from MAPP who you introduced to me before in the conference, what a wonderful experience.

    Mike is an amazing professor who can always stimulate my thoughts even in a very short meeting or conversation. Apart from a prefect professor, he’s also a wonderful coach~~

  • Bhakti Tanya says:

    Timothy, your article and the comments above are direct reflections of the positive influence you have on those around you. Beyond geography, cultures and civilizations, the psyche of positive psychology uplifts and expands our own personal energy, and nurtures us to contribute and give even more to those around us. Thank you for sharing!

  • [...] Three Lessons from the 1st Applied Positive Psychology Conference by Guest Author (4-25-07) [...]

  • [...] he gave a speech in my positive psychology class in Aston Business School. I then helped with the 1st Applied Positive Psychology conference which was organized by him and CAPP. I have been impressed by Alex’s passion and commitment to [...]

  • [...] Alex Linley是應用正面心理學中心(Centre of Applied Positive Psychology, CAPP)的創辦人和負責人,以及萊斯特大學(University of Leicester)的教授。去年初,我在阿斯頓大學商學院(Aston Business School)的正面心理學講座上第一次認識到Alex。我獲邀協辦在由他和CAPP統籌的第一屆應用正面心理學研討會。我被Alex致力於推廣和應用正面心理學到不同範疇上的熱情和承擔所感動,更慶幸有機會加入CAPP成為創會成員。無疑,Alex是最初帶領我走入正面心理學世界的啟蒙,希望這對我有特殊的意義訪問,亦能讓讀者有所啟發。 [...]

  • [...] Alex Linley是应用正面心理学中心(Centre of Applied Positive Psychology, CAPP)的创办人和负责人,也是莱斯特大学(University of Leicester)的教授。去年初,我在阿斯顿大学商学院(Aston Business School)的正面心理学讲座上第一次认识Alex,并获邀协办由他和CAPP统筹的第一届应用正面心理学研讨会。我被Alex身上那种致力于将正面心理学推广和应用到不同领域里的热情和承担所感动,更庆幸有机会加入CAPP成为创会成员。无疑,Alex是最初带领我走入正面心理学世界的启蒙老师,希望这次对我有特殊意义的访问,亦能让读者有所启发。 [...]

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