Between sessions at a conference in Canada last week, a fellow attendee told me that if Donald Trump is elected president of the USA they plan to build a wall.

Otherwise, I felt quite welcome on my recent trip north of the border.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, was the perfect place to go for my first conference on positive psychology. I splurged on this big trip because I couldn’t resist hearing – in person! -the latest research from my hero, UNC-CH Kenan Professor of Psychology, Barbara Fredrickson, and experiencing a full day of strengths-based mindfulness with another favorite researcher and author, Ryan Neimiec.

Here are five takeaways that I’d like to share with you:

  1. A strengths-based approach to life is more productive and less stressful than a deficit-based approach. This means, learn what your strengths are, cultivate them, and use them to support yourself, both personally and professionally. You can take a valid and reliable strengths survey from the VIA Institute to pinpoint your own signature character strengths. Here’s the link: https://www.viacharacter.org/www/
  2. On your busy to-do list or calendar (apparently, calendars are superior to to-do lists, which pains me, but I digress…) include an activity or encounter every single day that energizes you. Barbara Fredrickson reports new research findings that “Prioritizing Positivity” daily has a significant impact on increasing your sense of well-being.
  3. Don’t use positive affirmations that are simply wishful thinking and don’t try to be happy. The research shows that these approaches backfire. If the positive affirmation rings false, it makes people feel more depressed. And people who try to be happy also face disappointment. Happiness is a by-product of an engaged life, not an end result to be sought. See #2, above. Make time for activities that are meaningful to you.
  4. No population wants to be painted with a broad brushstroke, especially those born between the ‘80’s and 2000 (I know not to say the M word). With these young-ish workers entering the workforce and leadership positions, a new paradigm has emerged. Leadership is no longer based on a patriarchal, hierarchical model. Leadership in this generation leans towards agility, connectivity, and more frequent and productive feedback.
  5. Saving the environment, eliminating poverty, and bringing world peace will come not from governments or religious institutions but from businesses acting as change agents, according to David Cooperrider, Ph.D, in his inspiring keynote. He gave examples of this kind of success from around the globe. Here in southeast Virginia, I see the world-class work the Elizabeth River Project has accomplished in restoring and cleaning up our urban rivers by partnering with area industries. Truly remarkable.

And finally, here’s the best news of all from the 3rd Annual Canadian Positive Psychology Conference: It IS possible to take down the walls we unknowingly build around ourselves and to explore more of the possibilities that await us in this precious life we’re gifted with. Starting now. Now is a good time to start something good.

What will you discover today? Be sure to put it on your calendar.

Exciting news – I’m bringing the Strengths-Based Mindfulness Program to Norfolk this fall! Contact me to stay in the loop or to get more information. melissa@melissapagedeutsch.com or 757-408-1279

Want to learn more about coaching? Let’s talk.  757-408-1279.


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