From the beginning of the event Miriam Akhtar oozed with positivism. This was the best tribute to her presentation on Positive Psychology and Positivity for the evening audience in the Queens Tennis Club on Thursday 29th November 2012. As usual, Miss Dhatt, who stands behind Glow at Work’s increasing success, managed to attract quite a few participants (the numbers are growing with every event) to find out more and practice further, the ins and outs of Positive Psychology.
From the onset we explored many useful applications of Positive Psychology within the coaching arena, for example helping to increase well-being or enhancing clients’ strengths. The ‘colourful umbrella’ of topics being covered in an engaging style included maintaining positive relationships, building resilience, searching for meaning and purpose, exercising an attitude to gratitude and sustaining positive direction. This message came across strongly – the skills, habits and actions for a happier, more fulfilling life can be learned.
I would sum up my overall feeling following this highly enjoyable event: our attention should be focused towards goodness in life over, often more impactful, negativity bias. It seems that searching for our own resourcefulness should provide the key to success and happiness in all areas of our lives.
Zorica Patel, CPsychol, MSc- Senior Lecturer in the HRM Department at the University of Westminster – Module Leader for Applying the tools of Positive Psychology in Business
What is Positive Psychology and Positivity really about? This is probably one of the main questions that attracted people to yesterday’s Masterclass at the Queen’s Club in London. Glow at Work, the London-based Business Psychology consulting firm, offers amongst its range of services, Masterclasses on a variety of topics. These classes take place on a monthly basis addressing the intellectual curiosity that satisfies it’s always more eager-to-learn audiences. Keeping up an impressive trend, Glow at Work has been able to secure a top-notch speaker and a leading professional for November’s Masterclass, Miriam Akhtar. Among the first to graduate from the Masters in Applied Positive Psychology in Europe, she is a coach, trainer, facilitator, consultant, as well as a visiting lecturer at the University of East London. She is also a trainer of the Penn Resilience Program, created by Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology along with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Miriam Akhtar showed from the very beginning of the Masterclass how keen she is to apply Positive Psychology to her daily life as well as to her clients’ lives and businesses. She was like a messenger, whose genuine intent was to disseminate the countless benefits Positive Psychology has to offer. Her passion, along with her vitality, shined throughout the whole event, where she combined interactive discussions with positivity boosting exercises.
Now, the question that probably keeps popping up in your mind is what Positive Psychology ultimately is. Drawing from the rich journey and learning experience Miriam brought us through, Positive Psychology is a new ‘arm’ of classic Psychology where the main aim is to focus on the positive sides, rather than combating the negatives and getting to a neutral point. This does not mean forgetting the rest of Psychology, or avoiding the downsides of our experiences. Rather, it is about finding out how to feel good and function well, not just as individuals, but also as part of groups (communities in a wider sense) and as partners in a relationship. It does not regard solely the workplace, but what we are looking at has spillover in every aspect and sphere of our lives. This has the power to influence our jobs, our private dimensions, and our society as a bigger part of our communities. The ripple effect of Positive Psychology can be outstanding. Indeed, having said that, you should not be surprised to hear that, at the beginning of the second half of last decade, the most popular course at Harvard University was not Macroeconomics 101 but rather Positive Psychology. Students from every walk of life and with the most disparate life experiences and mental statuses were there to learn about the ‘Science of Happiness’. Why? Because something was missing. They were eager to learn how to become happy. Positive Psychology was officially conceived in 1998 to bring us on a higher path where the final destination will be a fulfilling and flourishing life. This new branch of Psychology covers topics such as happiness, self-esteem, empathy, friendship, love, goal-setting, achievement, creativity, mindfulness and spirituality.
So, what did happen overnight? In an ever-changing society, where rhythms, competition, and uncertainties skyrocketed as never before, the need to build on what is already working (health continuum and model), instead of endlessly catching up (disease continuum and model) arose. The aims of Positive Psychology according to Dr. Seligman were highlighted, as they consist of entering a new perspective where psychology should be as concerned with strengths as with weaknesses; as interested in building the best things in life as in fixing the worse; as concerned with making people’s lives more fulfilling as with healing mental diseases. Last but not least, interventions that boost happiness and human well-being should become the norm, rather than the exception.
In other words, Positive Psychology asks a different question from what we were used to earlier. The question now is: How can we bounce back from adversity (rather than asking ourselves how to get to the 0 point)? It is not about putting on a smiling face no matter what is happening in our lives. It is about acknowledging that there is something positive even in the worse scenario that could happen to us.
After this eye-opening experience and discovery journey that Glow at Work made possible, I would like to thank Miriam Akhtar for an engaging presentation and truly-felt message based on her drive and compelling desire to see people shine out. The energy and the vibe flowing in the conference room at the end of the Masterclass was not the same as in the beginning. Perhaps, a flourishing phase was already starting to sprout in each one of us, as a sort of realising process where we recognise that our lives are full of positive and bright sides, as opposed to the negatives that we are always exposed to on a daily basis. But, as a first place sprinter would be much better off by focusing on his/her race rather than on the second place runner catching up on him/her, it is only by focusing on well-being (and on what is already working in order to build upon it) that we can define ourselves as ‘flourishing’, or even better, ‘glowing’.
To find out more about Miriam Akhtar go to http://www.positivepsychologytraining.co.uk or follow her on twitter @pospsychologist
Marco Bellin, MSc
Marketing & Business Development Intern at Glow at Work