Last week we attended Positive Psychology in Application, a combined seminar and workshop that introduced a number of willing attendees to the concepts and principles of positive psychology.
The session was run by Sukh Pabial, a Learning & Development practitioner and keen Positive Psychology enthusiast, who has previously guest blogged for us on the subject of using positive language in interviews.
There was a real buzz at the session – the event had only been marketed through Twitter and personal blogs, so there was a connection between all the attendees, with many meeting in person for the first time after having built an online relationship.
The introduction drew the differences between positive thinking and positive psychology – in a nutshell the former is about changing how you think so instead of being negative you think positively, whilst the latter looks at the behaviours that can increase a person’s sense of wellbeing to a positive and vibrant state. In the workplace this is about creating work environments that are conducive to not just a healthy place to work, but also a vibrant place to work – allowing people to carry out tasks without fear of blame or backlash for mistakes.
There are a number of interventions in positive psychology that can help produce lasting effects of feeling good, many of which were discussed during the course of the seminar. These are the four that made the biggest impression on us:
3 Good Things
This is one of the simplest exercises for creating a feeling of happiness. At the end of the day take time to reflect and list 3 good things that have happened during the day. Try to keep a record of them in a diary or blog. Sukh explained ‘initially the things you write tend to be things like ‘the sun came out today’, or ‘had a good meal’. As you become more committed to it, you’ll find you write other things such as ‘helped a colleague solve a work problem’ or ‘had a good workout’ or ‘kept my anger in check today’. The important thing isn’t how deep or profound the good thing is; just that it provides a focus for thinking about good events rather than hanging on bad things’
Of all the interventions talked about during the day this was the one that seemed to resonate the most with attendees. Again it is a very simple idea –
- Think about one person who has made a positive difference to your life
- Articulate how they made a difference
- Visit them (hence Gratitude Visit) and thank them personally for the impact that they have had
- The lasting effects of this can be felt for months after the visit
This could seem a big step, to physically see someone and thank them for something that they may not even know had a major impact on you, so an alternative would be to send them a note explaining how they have helped you.
A signature strength is something which becomes your defining feature, something you use in the work that you do and the way you live your life. It is something you like doing and are good at, and it can also help you to help others. It isn’t easy to define, and will often only become apparent after conversations with someone who knows you well, or a coach or mentor, but once identified it gives you a sense of purpose.
High Quality Connections
Many of the Positive Psychology interventions, therapies and exercises involve other people and the impact that they can have on you. Just as important is the effect that you can have on others, none more so than the need for high quality connections. This recognises that we all have moments to make a difference to others and are able to make things happen just by being ourselves – previous points on signature strengths and gratitude visits recognise this. This doesn’t have to be a major interaction; Sukh defined it as ‘an experience that makes a difference to you no matter how small, or significant, the act’.
Towards the end of the workshop we looked at how these four (and other) initiatives could be used, in conjunction with social media, to foster greater employee engagement and involvement within an organisation. As companies grow and become larger, and processes drive efficiency, we being to neglect the human input. These initiatives can help by:
- Creating true discussions
- Giving the power of the voice is with the employees
- Focus on what is going right to create different discussions
To close the session we broke into small groups to talk about key learnings and takeaways and what we would start doing differently. This provided a truly social and engaging close, with individuals moving between different groups so as to bring this widest perspective to the discussions.
At the finish many of the delegates moved on to have a picnic lunch – it was a hot day and there was much to discuss!
Look out for a future guest blog from Sukh Pabial in which he’ll talk about bringing some of these initiatives into the workplace.
(Both pictures used in this blog were provided by Martha Wright – an attendee on the day)
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