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Well-being in practice: What practical actions could improve personal and community well-being? Dr Ilona Boniwell Programme Leader, MSc Applied Positive.

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Presentation on theme: "Well-being in practice: What practical actions could improve personal and community well-being? Dr Ilona Boniwell Programme Leader, MSc Applied Positive."— Presentation transcript:

1 Well-being in practice: What practical actions could improve personal and community well-being? Dr Ilona Boniwell Programme Leader, MSc Applied Positive Psychology

2 Positive coping Motivation & goal theories Applied pos. psychology Strengths & virtues Emotions Happiness & well-being Positive Psychology Creativity Emotional intelligence Humour Positive emotions Hedonic approaches Flow Eudaimonic approaches Psychological well-being Psychology of time Positive therapy Coaching Positive education Positive business Wisdom & knowledge Positive ageing Resilience Love & humanity Strengths of temperance Strengths of courage Strengths of justice Strengths of transcendence Post- traumatic growth Coping with choice

3 What is well-being? Subjective/hedonic well-being = happiness Satisfaction with life + high positive affect + low negative affect Well-researched Sound evidence on what does and does not increase subjective well-being

4 Satisfaction with Life Scale (Ed Diener)

5 SWB is related to:SWB is not really related to: OptimismAge (older people are sometimes happier than younger ones) ExtraversionPhysical attractiveness Social connections, i.e. close friendships Money (once the basic needs are met, the difference between the very rich & alright is negligible) Being married (marriage still scores better than cohabiting) Gender (women are more often depressed but also more joyful) Having engaging workEducation level Religion or spiritualityHaving children LeisureMoving to a sunnier climate Good sleep & exerciseCrime prevention Social class (through lifestyle differences & coping methods) Housing Subjective healthObjective health

6 “The happiness formula” H = S (50%) + C (10%) + V (40%) H – happiness S – set point C – circumstances V – factors under voluntary control

7 Great! I can affect 40% of my happiness but what do I do? Focus beyond self – perform random acts of kindness Don’t compare yourself with media stars and personalities Practice gratitude. Stop occasionally to “count your blessings” Treat yourself to a special day, and savor the experience Stop & think. May be there is meaning in life after all.. Consciously choose your activities, rather than going along Look for new ways to do something usual to avoid being bored Give priority to close relationships. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality that counts Join a “movement” movement. A sound mind resides in a sound body

8 Enhancing hedonic well-being Having as many pleasures as possible and learning the skills to amplify the intensity and duration of them. Sweet Dreams Before going to bed, write down three things that went well on that day. These can be simple occurrences; for example, "My 8- year-old daughter picked up her clothes from the floor in her room and put them in the laundry basket without being told to do so." Next to each positive event, answer the question, "Why did this good thing happen?" Select one good event you would like to dream about. Positive dreams increase life satisfaction and consolidate the memories of good events Good Things in Life Write down three good things that happen each day. For each item, ask, "what did I have to do with it?" Eventually, seeing the bright side of everyday incidents becomes easier. It also becomes harder to discount one's positive contribution to events.

9 More interventions for hedonic well-being Positive portfolio Collection of cards, objects, questions, memories. Gratitude visit Appreciation and giving thanks. Apology letter Write and send a one-page apology letter to a person you have wronged. Describe what you did and the effect you imagine it had. Apologize. Offer to recompense.

10 Positive psychology interventions What's missing is the question of whether psychologists can make people lastingly happier. … I'm interested … not to take people from -8 to -5, but to take people from +2 to +6. My great ambition for psychology … is that in the next 10 to 15 years... psychology and maybe psychiatry will increase the tonnage of happiness in the world (Martin Seligman)

11 A little bit of data Placebo control exercise: Early memories –Participants were asked to write about their early memories every night for one week. Gratitude visit –Participants were given one week to write and then deliver a letter of gratitude in person to someone who had been especially kind to them but had never been properly thanked. Three good things in life –Participants were asked to write down three things that went well each day and their causes every night for one week. In addition, they were asked to provide a causal explanation for each good thing.

12 You at your best –Participants were asked to write about a time when they were at their best and then to reflect on the personal strengths displayed in the story. They were told to review their story once every day for a week and to reflect on the strengths they had identified. Using signature strengths in a new way –Participants were asked to take our inventory of character strengths online at and to receive individualized feedback about their top five (“signature”) strengths (Peterson et al., 2005a). They were then asked to use one of these top strengths in a new and different way every day for one week. Identifying signature strengths –This exercise was a truncated version of the one just described, without the instruction to use signature strengths in new ways. Participants were asked to take the survey, to note their five highest strengths, and to use them more often during the next week. A little bit of data cont.

13 Results In an internet study of 411 volunteers, two of the exercises—using signature strengths in a new way and three good things— increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms for six months. Another exercise, the gratitude visit, caused large positive changes for one month

14 Is there more to well-being than feeling good? It all starts with Aristotle… “I would rather wake up feeling unhappy than wake up without meaning in my life” Eudaimonic well-being = developing the best in oneself + belonging to and serving institutions larger than oneself

15 Enhancing eudaimonic well- being Strengths Exercises Positive introductions Make a beautiful day using your strengths “Pulling on strengths” in a challenging situation Giving the Gift of Time Your Legacy Grandchild writes obituary Your Vision of Positive Human Future Longcuts vs. Shortcuts Spending extra time on a routine activity (card, talking to a friend)

16 How much well-being can we create with the wealth that we have?

17 South Tyneside Council Positive parenting and parenting support Promoting emotional resilience amongst 11 to 13 years olds Guaranteed apprenticeships Reducing isolation of older people Neighbourhood and community well-being (the concept of “place”)

18 Further Information Boniwell, I. (2006). Positive Psychology in a Nutshell. London: PWBC. Purchase at Carr, A. (2004). Positive Psychology, Brunner-Routledge, Hove and New York Linley, P.A. & Joseph, S. (2004). Positive Psychology in Practice, John Wiley & Sons: New Jersey. Snyder, C.R. & Lopez, S.J. (Eds.) (2002). Handbook of Positive Psychology, Oxford University Press: New York

19 Web resources (Literature)www.positivepsychology.org (Literature) (Interventions)www.psych.upenn.edu/seligmanwww.reflectivehappiness.com (Questionnaires)www.authentichappiness.org

20 The End


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