Psychology, Experience Design, and Management students are currently researching how to help students lead better, more fulfilling lives through the mentorship of Professors Jared Warren and Brian Hill.
Martin Seligman is the founder and lead researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Positive Psychology. Leading the scientific world in promoting well-being. Christopher Peterson, who played a major role in reorienting this concept, described positive psychology on Psychology Today as “the scientific study of what makes life worth living”.
Professor Brian Hill studies design and management of the BYU classroom experience Creating a good life through design experience For more than 600 students each semester. The class focuses on positive psychology and how to apply it to life.
Hill believes that we are all naturally concerned with happiness.
“We know that from the Bible and God’s intention for us,” Hill said. “It can be confusing about what really is the origin of happiness.”
For the past 70 years, faculty members’ primary concern with experience, determination, and management as behavioral scientists has been people’s quality of life, according to Hill.
“Through my studies of positive psychology, I was convinced that life at its best is a tapestry of good experiences, difficult experiences, and even negative experiences,” Hill said. “It’s a beautiful curtain with all kinds of colors and experiences, just like our lives.”
Share how the goal of his class is to teach his students how to find true happiness among a variety of life experiences.
“The course focuses on applying all of these principles,” Hill said. “I think that is why it is so popular. It is relevant and applied. Students find value in it.”
Douglas Turner earned his undergraduate degree in Organizational Communication at Brigham Young University. Then he went on to be part of the first batch in the Master’s program in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He studied the concepts of well-being with Dr. Seligman, who started the program.
Turner shared that since then, schools around the world have embraced and begun teaching the principles of positive psychology to their students.
“It all started with Dr. Seligman,” Turner said. “I was lucky enough to be at my first inauguration [Masters of Applied Positive Psychology] program there. “
Turner’s opportunity to study with Seligman came at a pivotal time in his life. Almost immediately after receiving his degree, Turner’s wife, Laurie Turner, was diagnosed with cancer.
“When Laurie was diagnosed, we said we hadn’t done it before, and we won’t do it again,” Turner said. They brainstormed together about what a positive person would look like to respond well to this challenge of fighting cancer.
Turner said they asked themselves, “What would a positive person do? What do they think? What would they share with others?”
They concluded that they would have a good attitude toward cancer. “A positive person isn’t going to walk around complaining all the time,” Turner said. “Let’s be kind. We don’t know what people’s individual struggles are, so let’s not assume. Let’s always be kind.”
Turner also shared how accepting these challenges and hardships helped him and Laurie beat cancer.
“Being positive or happy doesn’t mean the absence of negativity, hardship, and challenge,” Turner said. “Some people think that in order to be happy, you cannot have any sadness in your life. The scriptures say there must be opposition. You must have opposition, and research echoes that.”
Logan Cole, a senior researcher in psychology and student researcher in the Positive Psychology Lab of Dr. Jared Warren, shared how his family helped him maintain a happy attitude toward life.
“They are the world to me,” Cole said, referring to his family. “They are there to rely on, get advice and rewind ideas. This is mostly my way forward.”
Hill also shared how focusing on our strengths helps us find joy in the activities we participate in.
“We each have our own unique set of virtues,” Hill said. “Seligman is convinced that if we use these to deal with problems at work, at home, with family, in our personal lives, we will be much happier.”
Seligman coined the word ‘perma’, which stands for positive emotion, sharing, relationship and meaning, to describe effective ways to improve general well-being. Turner shared how living the principles of PERMA helps him achieve happiness.
“When I remember all of that and use my strength, that’s the time when I’m the happiest,” Turner said. “That’s when I feel better.”
Will MacDonald, lead psychology and director of Dr. Warren’s Positive Psychology Lab, shared what he does to help when life gets tough.
“Practices of mindfulness are essential to controlling my stress,” MacDonald said. “Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of oneself and things around it. It is similar to meditation in that you can focus on your breath and the feelings of your body as well as calm your thoughts.”
Hill added a tactic called “taking the good” found in Rick Hanson’s book “Hardwiring Happiness.”
“Anytime something really good happens like BYU winning a soccer game, noticing the first change of leaves in the fall or getting a better score on a test or paper than you expected, just take a few seconds — even an extra 5 seconds — to take it,” Hill said. “Take the good, and just breathe—it trains our minds to be better at tasting, positivity and feeling happier.”
Cole explained that he keeps an open mind about life to help him stay positive.
“Keeping a long-term perspective in mind has really helped me see that a bad grade is not the end of the world, or to see that this breakup or this car accident really can be overcome with time, with effort, with friends and with Christ,” Plea said. You can still go ahead with it.”
Turner shared that Chris Peterson, a leading researcher in positive psychology, summed it up for him.
“The bottom line is that others matter,” Turner said. “We are not alone, and in order to be happy and have this sense of well-being, we must be with other people. How you treat them and how they treat you is important to your personal happiness.”
Hill concluded by saying that it is important to enjoy every moment.
“What will make us more positive is learning to savor and enjoy food every time in our lives,” Hill said. “If you’re single, just enjoy what it means and the opportunities you have. If you’re newlywed, enjoy it. If you have a kid, enjoy what it means. It’s tough, but savor it.”
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