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Angus Skinner, MAPP, works in his beloved and beautiful Scotland as an independent management consulting professional. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde. He has over 40 years experience of social work services across the UK. As Chief Social Work Inspector for Scotland for 15 years, Angus provided advice directly to ministers on all matters of social work service legislation, policy, and practice development. Full bio. Articles on Positive Psychology News by Angus are here.

Leg in Red Cast

Leg in Red Cast

Hobbling down the stairs and across the street I realized too late that I had left my wallet in the office. This meant that I missed the bus, and later had to get the train which sensibly stopped at the train station some two miles from the bus station. So, that evening’s plan for Jess – a student driver – to drive us home from the bus station was abandoned, as was the car which was, of course, a vital player in the plans for the next morning travels. Jess had a party to enjoy. For recovering from my broken leg I had clear goals (well advised) which included starting to drive again ten days hence. But returning from the train station I recklessly then drove down with Shelagh to get the other car, and drove back. I have been driving since. Events and circumstance accelerated both the motivation and achievement of my goal.


Small things are the realities of lives. These are the arenas in which Positive Psychology plays. They are also the arenas of global issues.

We know we can be selfish, tribal, and also beehive. Yet we warm absolutely to the story of soldiers from Germany and Britain playing football on Christmas Day on the front in 1914. We warm to the story of US Soldiers and Iraq Revolutionary Guards working together to save animals in the Baghdad Zoo even before war hostilities ceased. We yearn to co-operate better. At rest our goals are confused – thank God for rest. Goals may blinker our sight, restrict our action and at their worst justify inhumane means for dastardly ends.

Of course Positive Psychology is as much about negative as about positive emotions – much of it originates in studies and thoughts about depression; the majority of the research is still focused on handling best the inevitable adversities of life. There is scope for much more research on handling life’s successes – my own suggestions would be that the key elements are recognition (by the self, with others), celebration (savoring by the self, with others), and communicating these. These are the essential elements of co-operation – how else do bees ever find honey?

Positive Psychology is not about positive thinking and certainly not about the kind of focus on self that would be implied by the suggestion that some emotions are good and others are bad. The self is not a good site for meaning. Meaning comes from engagement beyond ourselves. So should our goals.

So, goals are important but are inevitably limited and should be handled with care since they are based on partial, flawed, and filtered information. Insects have organised to handle these limitations. We can do better. But not if all our goals are self – what will we achieve, how great we will be – or feel; nor if our goals lack the flexibility of real life.

We feel from others and feeling well depends on our engagement with others.

Jess enjoyed a great party. I tripped unexpectedly but serenely to my goal, such is life – thus serentrippity. Let’s have more of it.

Red plaster socks courtesy of ItzaFineDay

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