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.
Applied 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.