Monthly Archives: May 2014

Positive Psychology – The Ultimate Frontier for Psychology

Positive Psychology is the systematic and scientific study of human strengths and virtues ,which each one of us posses. This fascinating field that evolved dramatically in the last two decades is chancing the landscape across domains. Through cutting edge research from some of the most respectable universities have now proven beyond doubt that done rightly with the right mindset it can certainly enable individuals and communities to thrive. Positive Psychology is founded on the firm belief that each one of us want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to nurture our character strengths, and to enhance our varied experiences of life, love, work, and play.

This fascinating field encompasses the following:

  • Optimism
  • Compassion
  • Appreciative Enquiry
  • Flow
  • Resilience
  • Wellbeing & Happiness
  • Core Character Strengths
  • Positive Aging
  • Life of Purpose
  • Life Satisfaction


To know more on this emerging phenomenon, given below are a list of videos which provide an interesting exposition of this life changing field:

Happiness Leads To Success

Happiness Leads to success by Prof Christopher Abraham


Success is not the key to happiness_Albert Schweitzer


Prof. Christopher Abraham explores the science of happiness, and how it relates to professional and personal success.Psychological studies have primarily concentrated on human failing and pathology. In fact, the idea of psychotherapy, a concept realised by Sigmund Freud, is based on the fact that human beings are distressed and need to be calm.
The practitioners that followed Freud developed a model that seemed to portray humans as mechanical and passive, being shaped by situations surrounding them.
However, this view was soon altered when eminent psychologist Martin Seligman, in 1998, urged psychology professionals to set about the healing process with understanding and building strong qualities. Seligman is credited with sowing the seeds of happiness studies and positive psychology. He went on to be the world’s leading scholar on optimism.
Seligman’s idea quickly caught on, with the Gallup organisation founding the Gallup Positive Psychology Institute to fund research on the subject. This provided the foundation of the Gallup Positive Psychology Summit, which was globally recognised within two years of it being held.
So what really makes us happy? How can we become happier? And is happiness sustainable? Current cutting edge research on studying happiness indicates that our individual level of happiness springs from three primary sources:


Our genetic set point
Fifty per cent of our happiness derives from a genetically determined set point, contend leading researchers such as Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California.
The set point for happiness is similar to the set point for weight. Some people are blessed with skinny dispositions: even when they’re not trying, they easily maintain their weight. By contrast, others have to work hard to keep their weight at optimum levels, and the moment they relax their dietary and exercise regime, they gain back all the weight.
So those of us with low happiness set points will have to work harder to achieve and maintain happiness, while those of us with high set points will find it easier to be happy under similar conditions.
Our life circumstances
“Life circumstances” determine a scant 10 per cent of our happiness, Prof. Lyubomirsky continues: “Only about 10 per cent of the variance in our happiness levels is explained by differences in life circumstances or situations–that is, whether we are rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, beautiful or plain, married or divorced, etc. If, with a magic wand, we could put a group of people into the same set of circumstances (same house, same spouse, same place of birth, same face, and same aches and pains), the differences in their happiness levels would be reducedby a measly 10 per cent.”
Prof. Lyubomirsky notes in her book The How of Happiness that this finding runs contrary to many of our efforts to obtain happiness: “One of the great ironies of our quest to become happier is that so many of us focus on changing the circumstances of our lives in the misguided hope that those changes will deliver happiness… An impressive body of research now shows that trying to be happy by changing our life situations ultimately will not work. Although we may achieve temporary boosts in well-being by moving to new parts of the country or the world, securing raises, or changing our appearances, such boosts are unlikely to be long-lasting.”
Most experts agree that human beings immediately adapt to positive circumstantial changes in the hope of bringing about happiness in their lives. Although the circumstances change, it may not be a source of long-term happiness, as they will eventually be taken for granted.



Happiness strategies

The remaining 40 per cent of our happiness is determined by our behaviour—intentional activities referred to as “happiness strategies.”
This is the core of the research of leading professionals in this field which advocates increasing and sustaining happiness through intentional activities.
Genuinely happy people make things happen, and don’t just sit around being content. They learn more, achieve more and control their thoughts and feelings. If an unhappy person wants to experience interest, enthusiasm, contentment, peace and joy, he or she can make it happen by learning the habits of a happy person.
Scientific research supports the use of strategies such as expressing gratitude, acts of kindness, nurturing relationships, committing to goals, among others. Researchers describe precisely what these somewhat generic terms mean in this context and provide a rationale for why they work and explore what they might look like in practice. They do not say that these are the only meaningful happiness strategies, but separately they meet standards for being “evidenced-based,” and together they constitute a list sufficiently broad “so that every individual could find a set right for him or her.”
The science of happiness is here to stay with the single focus of making the world a better place.


25 Things Successful Teachers Do Differently!

This is a cross-post from; image attribution flickr user nwabr; 30 Habits Of Highly Effective Teachers

25 Things Successful Educators Do Differently


If you ask a student what makes him or her successful in school, you probably won’t hear about some fantastic new book or video lecture series. Most likely you will hear something like, “It was all Mr. Jones. He just never gave up on me.”

What students take away from a successful education usually centers on a personal connection with a teacher who instilled passion and inspiration for their subject. It’s difficult to measure success, and in the world of academia, educators are continually re-evaluating how to quantify learning. But the first and most important question to ask is:

Are teachers reaching their students?

Here are 25 things successful educators do differently.

1. Successful educators have clear objectives

How do you know if you are driving the right way when you are traveling somewhere new? You use the road signs and a map (although nowadays it might be SIRI or a GPS). In the world of education, your objectives for your students act as road signs to your destination. Your plan is the map. Making a plan does not suggest a lack of creativity in your curriculum but rather, gives creativity a framework in which to flourish.

2. Successful educators have a sense of purpose

We can’t all be blessed with “epic” workdays all the time. Sometimes, life is just mundane and tedious. Teachers who have a sense of purpose and who are able to see the big picture can ride above the hard and boring days because their eye is on something further down the road.

3. Successful educators are able to live without immediate feedback

There is nothing worse than sweating over a lesson plan only to have your students walk out of class without so much as a smile or a, “Great job teach!” It’s hard to give 100% and not see immediate results. Teachers who rely on that instant gratification will get burned out and disillusioned. Learning, relationships, and education are a messy endeavor, much like nurturing a garden. It takes time, and some dirt, to grow.

successful teaching

4. Successful educators know when to listen to students and when to ignore them

Right on the heels of the above tip is the concept of discernment with student feedback. A teacher who never listens to his/her students will ultimately fail. A teacher who always listens to his/her students will ultimately fail. It is no simple endeavor to know when to listen and adapt, and when to say, “No- we’re going this way because I am the teacher and I see the long term picture.”

5. Successful educators have a positive attitude

Negative energy zaps creativity and it makes a nice breeding ground for fear of failure. Good teachers have an upbeat mood, a sense of vitality and energy, and see past momentary setbacks to the end goal. Positivity breeds creativity.

6. Successful educators expect their students to succeed

This concept is similar for parents as well. Students need someone to believe in them. They need a wiser and older person to put stock in their abilities. Set the bar high and then create an environment where it’s okay to fail. This will motivate your students to keep trying until they reach the expectation you’ve set for them.

7. Successful educators have a sense of humor

Humor and wit make a lasting impression. It reduces stress and frustration, and gives people a chance to look at their circumstances from another point of view. If you interviewed 1000 students about their favorite teacher, I’ll bet 95% of them were hysterical.

8. Successful educators use praise smartly

Students need encouragement yes, but real encouragement. It does no good to praise their work when you know it is only 50% of what they are capable of. You don’t want to create an environment where there is no praise or recognition; you want to create one where the praise that you offer is valuable BECAUSE you use it judiciously.

photo by Dominik Gwarek

9. Successful educators know how to take risks

There is a wise saying that reads, “Those who go just a little bit too far are the ones who know just how far one can go.” Risk-taking is a part of the successful formula. Your students need to see you try new things in the classroom and they will watch closely how you handle failure in your risk-taking. This is as important as what you are teaching.

10. Successful educators are consistent

Consistency is not to be confused with “stuck”. Consistency means that you do what you say you will do, you don’t change your rules based on your mood, and your students can rely on you when they are in need. Teachers who are stuck in their outdated methods may boast consistency, when in fact it is cleverly masked stubbornness.

11. Successful educators are reflective

In order to avoid becoming the stuck and stubborn teacher, successful educators take time to reflect on their methods, their delivery, and the way they connect with their students. Reflection is necessary to uncover those weaknesses that can be strengthened with a bit of resolve and understanding.

12. Successful educators seek out a mentor for themselves

Reflective teachers can easily get disheartened if they don’t have someone a bit older and wiser offering support. You are never too old or wise for a mentor. Mentors can be that voice that says, “Yes your reflections are correct,” or “No, you are off because….” and provide you with a different perspective.

13. Successful educators communicate with parents

Collaboration between parents and teachers is absolutely crucial to a student’s success. Create an open path of communication so parents can come to you with concerns and you can do the same. When a teacher and parents present a united front, there is a lower chance that your student will fall through the cracks.

14. Successful educators enjoy their work

It is easy to spot a teacher who loves their work. They seem to emanate contagious energy. Even if it on a subject like advanced calculus, the subject comes alive. If you don’t love your work or your subject, it will come through in your teaching. Try to figure out why you feel so unmotivated and uninspired. It might have nothing to do with the subject, but your expectations. Adjust them a bit and you might find your love of teaching come flooding back.


15. Successful educators adapt to student needs

Classrooms are like an ever-evolving dynamic organism. Depending on the day, the attendance roster, and the phase of the moon, you might have to change up your plans or your schedule to accommodate your students. As they grow and change, your methods might have to as well. If your goal is to promote a curriculum or method, it will feel like a personal insult when you have to modify it. Make connecting with your student your goal and you’ll have no trouble changing it up as time moves on.

16. Successful educators welcome change in the classroom

This relates to the above tip, but in a slightly different way. Have you ever been so bored with your house or your bedroom, only to rearrange it and have it feel like a new room? Change ignites the brain with excitement and adventure. Change your classroom to keep your students on their toes. Simple changes like rearranging desks and routines can breathe new life in the middle of a long year.


17. Successful educators take time to explore new tools

With the advance of technology, there are fresh new resources and tools that can add great functionality to your classroom and curriculum. There is no doubt that the students you are teaching (far younger than you) probably already have a pulse on technologies you haven’t tapped into yet. Don’t be afraid to push for technology in the classroom. It is often an underfunded area but in this current world and climate, your students will be growing up in a world where technology is everywhere. Give them a headstart and use technology in your classroom.

18. Successful educators give their students emotional support

There are days when your students will need your emotional support more than a piece of information. Connecting to your students on an emotional level makes it more likely that they will listen to your counsel and take your advice to heart. Students need mentors as much as they need teachers.

19. Successful educators are comfortable with the unknown

It’s difficult to teach in an environment where you don’t know the future of your classroom budget, the involvement of your student’s parents, or the outcome of all your hard work. On a more philosophical level, educators who teach the higher grades are tasked with teaching students principles that have a lot of unknowns (i.e. physics). How comfortable are you with not having all the answers?Good teachers are able to function without everything tied up neatly in a bow.


20. Successful educators are not threatened by parent advocacy

Unfortunately, parents and teachers are sometimes threatened by one another. A teacher who is insecure will see parent advocacy as a threat. While there are plenty of over-involved helicopter parents waiting to point out a teacher’s mistakes, most parents just want what’s best for their child. Successful educators are confident in their abilities and not threatened when parents want to get into the classroom and make their opinions known. Good teachers also know they don’t have to follow what the parent recommends!

21. Successful educators bring fun into the classroom

Don’t be too serious. Some days, “fun” should be the goal. When students feel and see your humanness, it builds a foundation of trust and respect. Fun and educational aren’t mutually exclusive either. Using humor can make even the most mundane topic more interesting.

22. Successful educators teach holistically

Learning does not happen in a vacuum. Depression, anxiety, and mental stress have a severe impact on the educational process. It’s crucial that educators (and the educational model) take the whole person into account. You can have the funniest and most innovative lesson on algebra, but if your student has just been told his parents are getting a divorce, you will not reach him.

23. Successful educators never stop learning

Good teachers find time in their schedule to learn themselves. Not only does it help bolster your knowledge in a certain subject matter, it also puts you in the position of student. This gives you a perspective about the learning process that you can easily forget when you’re always in teaching mode.


24. Successful educators break out of the box

It may be a self-made box. “Oh I could never do that,” you say to yourself. Perhaps you promised you’d never become the teacher who would let the students grade each other (maybe you had a bad experience as a kid). Sometimes the biggest obstacle to growth is us. Have you built a box around your teaching methods? Good teachers know when it’s time to break out of it.

25. Successful educators are masters of their subject

Good teachers need to know their craft. In addition to the methodology of “teaching”, you need to master your subject area. Learn, learn, and never stop learning. Successful educators stay curious.


Flow and Success

There are special moments in our lives when we actually lose track of time.Imagine a moment when you are practicing or performing something you are really passionate about and you do not realize the time that has passed.You are mindful of every single moment in your memory and savoring the joy of complete fulfillment.Its indeed a special moment and psychologists call this the Ultimate State of Flow.Today with neurological studies across the world we have understood that each one of us is capable of reaching this unique  Flow state ,which can lead to an enhanced form of Happiness beyond our imagination.Excellence in life is thus determined more by Flow than by ordinary Happiness.While Happiness is normally determined by external and internal circumstances,Flow results in a heightened form of consciousness.

According to research done by the renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ,one in five Americans share that they experience Flow several times a day.Mihaly further validates that Flow happens when we do what we love doing ,like gardening,playing music or our favorite sport or dancing.Even work can reach Flow state when we have a Purpose and are passionate about it.