Strengths as A Motivator for People Of Any Age

6 Weeks to increased happiness – for just 60 minutes a week!

“Now I know what fun is!” – workshop participant.

Much is being written and researched today about the effects of positive psychology, gratitude, meditation, and a growth mindset on various groups in our population. In particular, the value of building character strengths, resilience and optimism across all ages groups is key. If we start with young people, these ingredients create the foundation for young people to grow into resilient adults, able to handle the vicissitudes of life. Programs such as KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) which started in just two schools in two states, and is now in 183 schools in 20 states across the U.S. and the Maytiv Program in Israel, have shown how children from even the most difficult circumstances can thrive.

But thriving is not just for young people, and those that did not have access to positivity practices in their youth can still build resilience and increase happiness in their adult lives. 

What may come as a surprise is that it actually takes relatively small “doses” of positivity training to make a real difference. I wanted to offer at least some of this material to teenagers in my world. I was working full time as a project manager, and my target participants were school and college kids with a merry-go-round of activities. In fact, that ever turning merry-go-round is one of the main reasons I thought my community might appreciate a boost based in positivity! So, short of time as we all were, I created a workshop. It took place over five weeks (including 1 week break with homework) and consisted of 2 sessions of 30 minutes each week. That was it!

Although my initial target group was teenagers, this workshop content and format proved valuable to young professionals, project managers and technologists not just in the US but also in India. In every case, participants express enthusiasm, optimism and gratitude. Collaboration increases, a sense of team spirit grows and everyone learns at least a little about what makes them happy and how to experience that feeling more often.  One observer commented that participants seemed to have a “kind of force field around them” and that they were “more upbeat” and “smiled more”.

As short and focused as the program was, objective measurement and participant feedback confirmed that the experience increases positivity, builds resilience, and just make the participants feel good!

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The material was highlighted at both the Canadian Positive Psychology Association conference “Exhilarate” and at the IPEN Festival of Education in Dallas, Texas.