Report from IPPA Conference, Day 2

Day two of the 2nd Congress of the International Positive Psychology Association was simply amazing.  I learned SO much!  At one point I laughed to my friend “Teacher!  My brain is full!”  Here’s a report of the day’s events:

It began with Ed Deci speaking about self-determination and its relationship to positive psychology – in other words: the self-fulfilling prophecy.  He showed scientific proof that believing that you are doomed and things will never get better can actually bring that about.  Using a simple analogy (of my own), if one is drowning and they really don’t think anyone will come to rescue them, they can behave based on this belief by not paddling and dying before help could arrive.  But Deci really wowed the crowd when he reported that studies repeatedly proved that external rewards kill off intrinsic motivation.  For instance, when we try to control our children either by giving them a reward for doing well (the carrot) or punishing them when they do not do well (the stick), we inadvertently are hindering our child’s innate love of learning!  You can bet I will be blogging more about this. Continue reading Report from IPPA Conference, Day 2

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Frank recommends: buy it in BULK

Barbara Fredrickson‘s book is a must-read for anyone who is serious about being happier.
Dr. Fredrickson was studying positive emotions even before Positive Psychology was officially formed. In fact, it was her research that got Martin Seligman so excited that he was running up the stairs two at a time, singing her praises. Positivity is jam-packed with research backed studies that will bring hope to the hopeless and broaden and deepen the level of happiness of even the happiest of people – including me! The most important message of the book: there is a “tipping point” of positivity. Dr. Fredrickson likens this to the transformation that ice takes on when exposed to a certain temperature – when ice becomes water. Her research proves that human beings have such a point when we transform from languishing to flourishing. Teaming up with other researchers, Dr. Fredrickson reported the exact tipping point to be 2.9013 to 1. Rounding up, she suggests that people strive to experience 3 positive emotions to 1 negative one. She reports that the majority of people have a positivity ratio of 2 to 1 and are considered to be languishing. Those experiencing a ratio of 1 to 1 (or lower) are usually diagnosed with depression. What is your positivity ratio? You can find out right now. But before you click on, two things: She suggests testing yourself often to get a true measurement of your overall positivity, so if you score low, don’t sweat it – you might just be having a bad day. Also, I (the “Happy Therapist”) scored in the languishing range myself. But the great news is that Dr. Fredrickson not only tells you what your score is, more importantly she tells you specifically how to raise your positivity score, that you may flourish! You can take the a self-test at www.positivityratio.com .

What IS “Positivity” exactly? Well, Dr. Fredrickson uses the word in place of “happiness”, deeming the word “happiness” as to broad and vague. “Positivity”, however is way of life stemming from joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love. She offers a new toolkit and specific exercises in her book on how to cultivate more of these feelings. Dr. Fredrickson also has a section on decreasing negativity, including how to deal with negative people. I personally loved the concept of “social aikido” (page 175).

My only criticism of Positivity is that Dr. Fredrickson at times offers so much research to support her points that one could get mired down in the data. I urge you to not let this dissuade you. There is true gold in Positivity and urge not only buy it, but buy it in bulk. You’ll want to give a copy to all your friends (and maybe even a few “enemies”). I will be using Positivity extensively in the next semester of Happiness 101. Join us.

Frank Clayton (a.k.a. The Happy Therapist)
Licensed Professional Counselor

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