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How Schools Can use Positive Psychology to Transform School Culture
How you discovered your positivity ratio today? Even consider yourself an asset builder? Are you wondering how you can strength spot in literature or how to set meaningful goals. Come discover five powerful tools and one great philosophy of positive psychology that teachers, administrators, and counselors can use to transform our work in schools and more fully engage students and faculty.
Name your strengths
- Take the VIA Character strength assessment for free.
- I personally love Gallup’s strengthsfinder, but it costs $10.
- Other paid alternatives include Marcus Buckingham’s Standout Strengths assessment ($15) and the Realise 2 (16 pounds)
Claim your strengths
So you have a list of strengths, so what? The so is filled in by you: Reflect on your top five or six strengths and how you use them. Each of the professional reports offers specific suggestions on how to apply your strnegths. Ryan Niemic offers up a host of suggestions and also here. Choose any of the character strengths and consider one of the following research-based modes of action:
- Self-monitor for the strength: observe yourself in various situations. Write down when you use the strength and when you don’t. Track what happens just before you use the strength, and how you feel and think while you use it. Track the circumstances in which you overuse the strength and when you forget about it or under-use it. For this exercise, some people carry a small notebook with them to track these various points. A simpler version is what has been done in research studies on kindness which is simply to write down the number of kind acts you perform each day.
- Write or journal about the strength. This is both an exploration activity but also might be an application activity. For several strengths, expressing the strength in a written letter (e.g., gratitude letter, forgiveness letter) has powerful internal and interpersonal benefits.
- Use the strength in a new way. This is the classic strengths-building exercise shown in research studies. The premise is to take action with one of your top strengths by conceiving of one new way to use or express the strength each day. Typically, this strategy involves using curiosity as you seek novel and new ways to do things,creativity to generate new ideas each day, or perspective to see the bigger picture as to what might be both interesting and useful for you.
- Emulate a paragon, role model, or exemplar of a particular strength. Much of our learning occurs through observation. Practice acting or thinking the way a role model for one of your strengths would act or think. If you’re wanting to build up leadership and fairness, emulate the best qualities of Gandhi; if it’s bravery and honesty, turn to Atticus Finch; if it’s kindness and humility, turn to Mother Teresa. Keep in mind that often the most powerful role models are those in our daily life and those who have served as mentors to you.
- Practice using the strength. Make the strength a routine, simply part of your daily existence. Once the strength becomes habit, it will feel more like the real you.
- Imagine using the strength in the future. If you want to build up the strength of perspective, image yourself at a time in the future in which you take the wider view of things, you see the bigger picture, you tap into your accumulated wisdom, you are able to gather wisdom from multiple source, and you offer sound advice to others in need.
Measure your vitality and find ways to improve your wellbeing.
Here is another happiness measure for those of us living in China.
Measure your grit.
How happy are you?
Why not try the Peoples Daily’s interactive calculator:
Highly recommend visiting the Blue Zones. What are blue Zones? Blue Zones helps people live longer, better. We study the world’s longest-lived, happiest people and tell you their secrets.
Blue Zone Life Lessons
- Move Naturally—Longevity all-stars engage in low-intensity physical activity, often as part of a daily work routine.
- Right Outlook—People who live in blue zones have a sense of purpose and their daily lives are infused with a sense of calm.
- Right Tribe—Blue zone inhabitants have strong social support networks and prioritize family and faith.
- Eat Wisely—A common thread among longevity cultures is a plant-based dietn, whcih avoids meat and processed foods.
I mentioned at the start the work of Martin Seligman, in Flourish, available here:
Martin explains the theory here:
If you want a quick primer on positive psychology, RSA animates does it five minutes!
At the core of the Flourishing model is identifying, developing and using one’s character strengths. Want to identify yours? Available in many languages.
And you want to see how it being used in schools?
This is also available on youtube:
And yes, you may see some familiar characters!
Have a happy day!
Heck go for a whole week!
Weber State University has posted action plan worksheets for each of Gallup’s 34 strengthsfinder talents.
- Self Assurance