02 Jun Top 5 Take Aways From Canadian Positive Psychology Association 2018 Conference
Positive psychology has become a big part of my life. I recently completed my Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) and I’ve started teaching some of the research backed wellbeing techniques in my keynotes and workshops to great reviews. I really love this field because it’s devoted to helping people live richer, happier and more fulfilling lives through the application of scientifically proven activities, known as ‘interventions’ in the field. (you can learn more about what Positive Psychology is – and what it isn’t – in this intro article.)
Last week, I was invited to present a workshop on Empathy’s Magic Power at the 2018 Conference of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association. My session was a hit with the participants, (check out the beautiful Graphic Recording by Lori Danyluk of Clarity Ink!) and I was happy to attend the rest of the conference and learn a ton of great information.
Here are my top 5 takeaways from the conference:
1. Positive Psychology isn’t just neck up
In her keynote address, ‘From Birth To Death: Living The Embodied Life,’ Dr. Kate Hefferon spoke about the critical role that our bodies play in the cultivation of a flourishing life. Our understanding of the mind/body connection is shifting. Research is showing that the body isn’t just a vehicle for the mind, it’s part of the mind.
Her four main reflections were:
- Become aware of your body – and don’t take it for granted.
- Celebrate your assets – focus your attention on what is working in your body and not what isn’t.
- Empower via activity – physical activity not only reduces the risk of physical illness, it reduces and buffers stress, anxiety, depression. Plus, by being active you increase your hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing.
- Embrace finiteness – it’s a fact that our bodies deteriorate and die. That makes for an exhilarating reminder of how good it is to be alive. If you can engage in conscious, specific and personalized moments of mortality awareness, you can add zest and meaning to your life.
2. Changing your language can change your experience
Mark Groves’ session on Relational Wellness explored many aspects of creating healthy relationships, but the bit that stood out most for me was all about how the words you choose can change your perspective, especially when in conflict.
When you’re trying to express your feelings, the words you choose will affect those very feelings. For example, if the emotion you’re expressing is anger, there are a few ways to phrase it, each with their own resulting emotional effect:
- “I am angry” – when you use the verb am, you subconsciously imply (both to your partner and to yourself) that you and anger are one and the same. When you use this type of language, you tend to become more angry. After all, when you use this phrasing, you ARE anger.
- “I feel angry” – this is an improvement because you are separating your feelings from your being. However, in this wording, anger is the only emotion you’re experiencing, so it’s better to go one step further to…
- “Part of me feels angry” – this wording allows for other emotions to occur simultaneously. Sure, part of you may feel anger, but other parts of you could also feel vulnerable, love and fear. This nuanced form of communication helps convey your feelings much for effectively and can lead to better relationships.
3. The 2 greatest predictors of relationship success
Based on the work of Gottman, I also learned from Mark Groves that the two greatest predictors of successful relationships are:
Of course, this isn’t all that surprising. It doesn’t take a PhD to know that if you want a good relationship, being kind and generous goes a long way. Still, it’s good to know that scientific research supports common sense!
4. Put your own wellbeing first (for the sake of others)
Next up on the main stage was Tom Rath, author of many books including StrengthsFinder 2.0, the top selling non fiction book of all time. Tom’s talk also focused on taking care of the body as a powerful positive psychology intervention and he emphasized the importance of sleep and walking.
But what struck me the most from his talk was the advice to put your own wellbeing first, for the sake of others. Whether it’s a child, partner, parent or friend, we all have people in our lives that we want to help care for. It may seem selfish to put your own well being first, but you can’t expect to provide good care for anyone else if you are not mentally and physically sound. That’s why it’s so important to learn what you personally need to be at your best in order to be of best service to those around you. (Is anyone else thinking of putting your own oxygen mask on before helping your seat mate?)
5. Refuse to make small talk
Haesun Moon is the Director of Training for Coaching Certificate Program at the University of Toronto. In her session, Confluence: How Hope Happens in a Dialog, she spoke about various conversational techniques to help people approach their challenges in the most useful and productive way.
Much of the session was designed for therapists and coaches, but there was one brilliant idea that we all can use right away. Haesun used to hate going to weddings. She hated sitting at a table, surrounded by strangers engaged in small talk. She just couldn’t care less about the weather or how bad the traffic was getting to the venue. So, she decided to take control of the situation with one simple question – “So, what do you care about?” I’ve already tried it out and I can tell you that question opens the door to some really fascinating conversations!
This quick recap only scratches the surface of what I learned at the conference. Still, even if you applied just a bit of what I learned to your own life, the results could be transformative. I challenge you to pick just one or two ideas and try them out in your own life to see what happens.
As always, I’d love to hear from you, so comment below or drop me a line.