The Future of Positive Psychology: Being Your Best Self for The World
The 5th Australian Positive Psychology conference, held in Adelaide, highlighted the progress that educators, organisations, practitioners and scientists are making in the world of positive psychology and wellbeing.
Personally I am thankful for the presentation I was able to conduct with my client partner Kimberly-Clark and their Head of Talent Sian Mertens. Together she and I co-presented what has been a compelling case study at one of their sites. Sian and my team worked together in delivering our Leader Identity program over an 18 month period. The great results are a testament to the huge appetite individuals and teams have in focusing on positivity, their own leader potential and ultimately realising greater engagement and productivity.
This type of case study doesn’t happen without the foresight of the client, co-creating the opportunity, and I am grateful to Sian, her team and the onsite team, for their wisdom and commitment. Following our presentation, I was struck by the realisation of the huge future potential of positive psychology. Our current focus on helping our clients be their best selves is meaningful and worthwhile and there is plenty of work to be done.
Our work has shown that organisation's willing to strengthen positive psychology in teams ultimately see it translate to their bottom line.
And it is this influence that reinforces the notion that there is room for more – more impact, more positivity, more positive change. The opportunity lies in applying the growing evidence base from positive psychology to larger, global issues such as climate change, poverty, discrimination and other societal challenges. This bigger picture framing challenges us to think more broadly about how the principles of positivity can be applied in areas that are broken or suboptimal.
Taking a more strategic approach to positive psychology requires us to consider how we can be our best selves for the world, for society and for each other. In helping our clients realise their best selves we are undoubtedly contributing to greater change for the good.
However perhaps there is more opportunity for us to help our clients connect to what is larger than themselves, to where they can have the biggest impact or to where they feel they can add the most value. This is one of the core messages of our Leader Identity program. In it we ask participants where they can have the most positive influence, in the area of their choosing. My sense is that this strategic influencing is part of many practitioners approaches, however it may also be valuable for us as practitioners to be even more explicit about these broader links.
On the flip side, positive psychology is not without its detractors. For a quick overview of the application of positive psych and the evidence base, a useful summary can be found here: https://www.psychology.org.au/publications/inpsych/2011/april/vella-brodrick/