Positive Psychology II – The Sequel
IT Supervisor, and
“Scientific Study of optimal human functioning that aims
to discover and promote the factors that allow
individuals and communities to thrive” Martin Seligman,
founder of PP
Reaction to Normal Psychology
Positive Psychology looks to help people nurture talent
and improve normal lives
A very large collection of loosely coupled positive
Data Driven – large Studies
Happiness - Paradox of rising Expectations
Economic growth and happiness. American's average buying
power has almost tripled since the 1950s, while reported happiness
has remained almost unchanged. (Happiness data from National
Opinion Research Center General Social Survey; income data from
Historical Statistics of the United States and Economic Indicators.)
Today - 2 Very different approaches
Savouring - Awareness of pleasure and of
the deliberate conscious attention to the
experience of pleasure.
Flow – When does time stop for you?
Doing something you never want to end?
First a Challenge
A leading Positive Psychologist
101 books on Amazon.
One of Bill Clintons favourite authors
Professor at the University of Chicago
One very obvious question
Just how do you pronounce
The easy answer is to call him Mike the flow guy
Some Quotes by Mike
“For too Long psychology had been focused almost
exclusively on the shadows of human existence”
“A joyful life is an individual creation that can’t be copied
from a recipe”
“People who learn to control inner experience will be able
to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as
any of us can come to being happy.”
Do you ever feel one of the following:
– “In the zone”, “on the ball”, “in the groove”
– “In the moment”
– A difficult task becomes effortless
– Time seems to pass very quickly
– You faced a big challenge but actually enjoyed the
Flow is the state in which people are so involved in
an activity, that nothing else seems to matter; the
experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it
even at great cost, for the shear sake of doing it.
Where does the idea of flow come
Concept developed after investigating artists, athletes,
musicians, chess players and surgeons for what they
enjoyed and valued
– What are you alive for?
– Interviews and Questionnaires
– Experience sampling method
Pagers for a week
Randomly, what are you thinking, doing and feeling?
Hundreds of thousands of people across the world
People who had more flow reported being happier
Strong documented correlation to performance
enhancement and motivation
Thought to build Psychological Capital/Growth
Characteristics of Flow inducing
1. Chance of Completing the task
2. Ability to Concentrate
3. Clear Goals
4. Feedback provided immediately
5. Effortless – intrinsically motivating
6. Sense of Control over actions
7. Concern for self disappears
8. Hours pass in minutes
It’s not that you need all of them to be in flow, but
one or more is present in the observed states
High Challenge and High Skill
“It does not seem to be true that work
necessarily needs to be unpleasant. It may
always have to be hard, or at least harder
than doing nothing at all. But there is ample
evidence that work can be enjoyable, and
that indeed, it is often the most enjoyable
part of life.”
The Paradox of Work and Leisure
Work reports 54% flow vs Leisure at 18%
People describe some of their most positive
experiences doing their job
People report low moods during Leisure
– They say they would prefer not to be working
and want more leisure time
– Maybe we need to improve our leisure and
think more about our perception of work
“Wherever the goal is to
increase the quality of life, flow
can point the way.”
Increasing the chance of Flow
–Use Signature Strengths
–Select Tasks for Intrinsic Motivation
–Develop Skills in a challenging activity
–Create Flow experiences
–Watch less TV
“Savouring is the capacity to attend to,
appreciate, and enhance the positive
experiences in one’s life.”
A state when we’re aware of pleasure with
conscious attention to experience, almost
the opposite of flow.
How do we cope?
Faced with a negative event we can cope by:
– Active problem solving
– Social Support
– Cognitive Reappraisal
– Formal Help Seeking
– Wishful thinking
But how do we cope with a positive event?
– The process, not the outcome
– Normal coping will not maximise the benefit
– Coping is about moderating the quality of negative
experiences, Savouring is about moderating the
quality of positive experiences
(Bertrand Piccard’s diary entry written on the final evening
of his record breaking trip around the world in a hot air
balloon, 1999, p. 44).
An example of savouring
“During the last night, I savour once more the intimate
relationship we have established with our planet.
Shivering in the pilot’s seat, I have the feeling I have left
the capsule to fly under the stars that have swallowed
our balloon. I feel so privileged that I want to enjoy every
second of this air world. During our three weeks of flight,
protected by our high-tech cocoon, we have flown over
millions of people suffering on this earth… why are we so
lucky?... very shortly after daybreak, [our balloon] will
land in the Egyptian sand, Brian and I will be lifted away
from the desert by helicopter, and we will immediately
need to find words to satisfy the public’s curiosity. But
right now, muffled in my down jacket, I let the cold bite of
the night remind me that I have not yet landed, that I am
still living one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
The only way I can make this instant last will be to share
it with others…”
(Bertrand Piccard’s diary entry written on the final evening of his record
breaking trip around the world in a hot air balloon, 1999, p. 44).
Ways of Savouring
Sharing with Others
Kill Joy Thinking
Just some words
Emotions such as Happiness, Joy, Elation, Delight, Satisfaction,
Meaning, Fulfilment, Rapture, Pleasure, Gratitude and Bliss
Exercise - Holiday
Did you have a holiday in the last year?
What made it more enjoyable?
Did anyone have a holiday today?
The Daily vacation Exercise
– Every day, plan and participate in something you find
enjoyable for 20 minutes
– Before starting the vacation set aside worries
– During the vacation, notice and explicitly acknowledge
pleasure. Label things, build a memory
– At the end of each day, reflect, plan tomorrow and
– At the end of the week, recall all 7.
Three temporal forms of savouring:
– Being in the moment
– Research has demonstrated that individuals
who habitually savour have greater life
satisfaction, are more optimistic and less
depressed than individuals who do not
Downward Hedonic Contrast
Spirituality and Religion
Awareness of the fleetingness of existence.
Prolong the Experience
Intensify the Experience
Shift Gears to Savouring
And don’t forget your flow
(Difficult ones very much welcome)
Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience - Paperback (11 Aug
2006) by Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (P.S.) by Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi (Paperback - 1 Jul 2008)
Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
(MasterMinds) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Paperback - 16 Mar 1998)
A Primer in Positive Psychology by Christopher Peterson (Paperback -
17 Aug 2006)
Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Human Strengths
(Paperback) by Alan Carr Routledge; 1 edition (4 Dec 2003) ISBN-13:
Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise
Your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment (Paperback) by Martin E.P.
Seligman Nicholas Brealey Publishing (6 Mar 2003) ISBN-13: 978-
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