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You Mattered, Chris

written by Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton October 10, 2012

Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton are the senior editors of PositivePsychologyNews.com. Together they have edited two books in the Positive Psychology News series: Resilience: How to Navigate Life's Curves and Gratitude: How to Appreciate Life's Gifts. Kathryn co-edited the third book in the series, Character Strengths Matter, with Shannon Polly. Their co-authored articles are here.

Senia Maymin, MAPP '06, is the coauthor of Profit from the Positive. Maymin is an executive coach to entrepreneurs and CEOs. Her PhD is in organizational behavior from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Full Bio. Her solo articles are here and her articles with Margaret Greenberg are here.

Kathryn Britton, MAPP '06 also co-authored Smarts and Stamina on using positive psychology principles to build strong health habits. Blog. Full bio. Her solo articles are here.



Christopher Peterson died yesterday.

We don’t know the details. We’ve just been touched by the shock wave going through a world-wide community that formed around his generous and productive life.

Just five days ago, Chris wrote an article in his Positive Psychology Today blog, The Good Life, about the ways he might use the word “awesome.” Along with the 1000 statues of the Buddha at the Sanjūsangen-dō temple in Japan, all looking alike from a distance but different up close, his examples included the Vietnam Memorial and the Virginia Tech Hokie Stones memorial for the people who died in the 2007 shooting. He concludes the article this way:

“The sort of awe I am describing is a bit different but incredibly important. It is awe about people collectively, including us. We are all the same, and each of us is unique, certainly in death but also in life. May we all stop and notice.” Awesome: E Pluribus Unum by Dr. Christopher Peterson

Chris was our teacher during the first MAPP program, teaching us how to read and write about research in the first semester and exploring character strengths and virtues in the second semester. Every slide deck had at least one joke and at least one picture of a baby in it.

We explored questions such as “What you can and cannot measure” and “What would we add as the 25th character strength?” He certainly didn’t believe that the existing 24 had been handed down carved in stone. For his top 5 character strength, people who knew Chris might pick Love, Curiosity, Humor, Humility, and … but it may be difficult to narrow in on the fifth since so many applied.

Chris reminded us that asking interesting questions is what matters in good research and that writing is a series of choices about how to tell a story and the writer should have a goal and an audience in mind. He also told us, “There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” At the same time, he had the ability to distill complex research findings into usable advice. He asked his students to think of the so-what factor: “So what? Why does it matter that this research exists? How does it make a difference?” Many students were keen to speak and work with Chris and benefited from his personal attention.

In the comments, please add any Chris stories that you are moved to tell. We’ll start with our two stories.
Also, we will keep adding photos of Chris here, so please email us with the image attached: admin@PositivePsychologyNews.com

Chris, we are thinking about you …

 


 
Here are just some articles on PPND that reference Chris directly (BTW, there are over 100 references for each of the below two):

Books by Christopher Peterson. The new book, Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology, is scheduled to be published in December 2012.


Images
Baby feet courtesy of Pawel Loj
The feature image and the first three pictures of Dr. Christopher Peterson courtesy of Sulynn Choong

Chris with Gloria Park, Sulynn Choong. Nansook Park, and David Pollay

Chris wearing Buckeyes brought by Amanda Hoffman — a good sport after Ohio State won

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