Photo by Marcia Dolgin, Dolgin Imaging
Introduction to Positive Psychology
for Career Development
What makes people sustainably happy? This is the research question that the expanding field of positive psychology sets out to answer through evidence-based study of positive emotions, engaged and meaningful lives, “happiness activities,” and character strengths and virtues. We’ll discuss “optimal experiences” or Flow states; using Character Strengths as a foundation for career decision-making or to “recraft” work; why it’s important to distinguish “wanting” vs. “liking” (and the neurobiological reasons why we often want what we don’t actually like); and what research says about the incentives of money and status vs. the “hedonic treadmill.” Positive psychology provides frameworks and tools that will enable you to help your clients not just to succeed in a career, but to flourish in a thoroughly and happily Engaged life.
Czikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience (NY: Harper & Row), 1990; The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium (NY: HarperCollins) 1993; Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (NY: Basic Books) 1997.
Diener, Ed, & Biswas-Diener, Robert, Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth (NY: Oxford: Blackwell Publishing) 2008.
Frederickson, Barbara, Positivity (NY: Crown) 2009.
Gilbert, Daniel, Stumbling on Happiness (NY: Knopf), 2006.
Lyubomirsky, Sonia, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want (NY: Penguin) 2008.
Peterson, Chris, with Seligman, Martin, Character Strengths & Virtues: A Handbook & Classification (Oxford U. Press) 2004.
Seligman, Martin, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment (NY: Free Press
Comment from Kathy Knudson:
The professor I referred to who is very involved in the Postive Psychology movement is Dacher Keltner, Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. He is the Director of The Greater Good Science Center. He is a research psychologist & a dynamite speaker. The other gentleman is Jason Satterfield Ph.D. at UCSF Dept. of Medicine who was a student of Martin Seligman's at U. of Penn. before he took his daughter's words to heart. In his presentation, Jason talks about what a difficult person Seligman was before he found enlightenment with Positive Psychology! Jason's area of expertise is Change: Emotions, Thoughts, Habits & Relationships.
Mary Jacobsen has been a teacher, workshop leader, psychotherapist, and career coach for more than 20 years. She is the author of Hand-me-down Dreams: How Families Influence Our Career Paths, and has lectured nationally on the topic of how families influence career decision-making and values about work, success, and money. She has been studying positive psychology and integrating it into her work with clients for the last four years, including Well-being Therapy, a variation of cognitive/behavioral therapy that focuses on identifying and amplifying experiences of feeling good. She is a member of the International Positive Psychology Association, and has taught courses on Positive Psychology as an Adjunct Faculty member of the Division of Continuing Education at Lesley University, and for the Professional Education Programs of the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston University.
Exercise: VIA Survey of Character Strengths
Visit the Authentic Happiness website, www.authentichappiness.org. Take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths, which is listed in the middle column under "Engagement Questionnaires." This online survey is free; all you have to do is create a password and log in. After you've taken the survey, you can print out your top five signature strengths.
Your task is to find a way to exercise at least one of your signature strengths in a new way or a novel setting. Using signature strengths in new or amplified ways has repeatedly been validated as among the most powerful sources of greater and sustainable happiness.
Mary Jacobsen, LICSW
Mailing Address: 129 Highland Avenue, Arlignton, MA 02476-7823
Before we begin, I would like to remind listeners to press 5* on your phone if you have a question and fill out the evaluation form directly after the interview. I hope you had a chance to try the Authentic Happiness VIS Survey of Character Strengths before the interview. If you didn't have a chance before the interview, you can find a link to the survey on Mary Jacobsen's Careerwell page: careerwell.org. Click on Mary's name in the left vertical menu.
I met Mary Jacobsen several years ago at JFK University in Northern California, where she was featured speaker on Hand-Me-Down Dreams: How Families Influences Our Career Paths. I was so excited to hear she would be speaking that I called her at her hotel and walked her to the meeting room where she would be presenting so I could chat with her for a few minutes. She has lectured nationally on the topic of how families influence career decision-making and values about work, success, and money. Mary Jacobsen puts her whole heart and mind into whatever interests her, so I can't wait to hear about her venture into Positive Psychology. Mary is a member of the International Positive Psychology Association, and has taught courses on Positive Psychology as an Adjunct Faculty member of the Division of Continuing Education at Lesley University, and for the Professional Education Programs of the Graduate School of Social Work at Boston University. Welcome Mary... Here's my first question:
1. Could you define positive psychology? How is it different from psychology per se?
2. Is positive psychology different from "positive thinking"? Why has it become so popular right now?
3. Is there a convergence between positive psychology and career counseling?
4. So what exactly do positive psycholgists study?
5. How do positive psychologists apply this research?
6. Why are strengths important in positive psychology? And how are strengths related to Virtues?
7. What are some applications of the strengths inventory that are helpful for career counselors or coaches?
8. One hears often about "Flow" -- what is flow and how can career counselors use this concept?
9. What other research findings do you want career counselors to know about?
10. If people want to learn more about positive psychology, what resources to you recommend?
11. How do you know so much about Positive Psychology? Did you take a training in it?
12. Is Positive Psychology part of the established academic psychology department?
13. Could you summarize the main points of your talk on Positive Psychology?
Mary, thank you for your uplifting interview, great way to start the holidays! Next month, we feature best-selling author John Gray (men are from mars) on Jauary 7, Carol McLelland (green careers for dummies) on January 14, and Jan Johnston-Tyler (neurodiversity, providing career advising for individuals with hidden disabilities) on January 28. Look forward to your participation in these great upcoming tele-interviews.
Have a happy and revitalizing holiday!