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European Positive Psychology conference: 3rd day - prioritizing positivity, befriending, compassion genetics, & transcendence

I wrote yesterday about the "European Positive Psychology conference: better 2nd day - culture, use of strengths, loving-kindness, education & passion".  This third day was also full to bursting with intriguing presentations.  Barbara Fredrickson gave the 9.00am keynote on "Why prioritize positivity?". Barbara is a bit of a star of the positive psychology world, so having her on first looked a good way of encouraging conference attendees to arrive on time.  Sayyed Fatemi spoke on "Positive psychology and psychology of possibility".  I went to a symposium on "Positive psychology in society and communities", another on "Mindfulness, loving kindness meditation and positive psychology" and a third symposium on "Meanings, strengths, values and spiritual accomplishments".  I then attended a late afternoon keynote by Chiara Ruini on "When clinical psychology contributes to advances in positive psychology, and vice versa" before bailing out a little early to walk & sightsee around Angers.



Neil Thin is a senior lecturer in Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. He specialises in crossdisciplinary happiness research, and in ‘appreciative and aspirational social planning’, i.e. engaging multidisciplinary happiness and wellbeing scholarship in public policy and practice. To this end, he is currently a part-time Parliamentary Fellow in the Scottish Parliament. He is currently a trustee of Befriending Network UK, and for over 10 years he served as a Director/Trustee of Practical Action and also as Chair of Practical Action Publications.  The abstract of his talk read "Everyone agrees that relationship quality is central to wellbeing. Though for many years largely neglected as a sociological or anthropological topic, the relevance of friendship to wellbeing and life satisfaction has rapidly been rising as a theme in sociological and psychological research. Policies and practices promoting good relationships and social competence have also been receiving greater attention in schooling, in workplaces, and in civil society in many countries. Yet so far, there has been much less systematic attention to theories and assessment strategies relating to the collective social value of friendly social support networks and of convivial institutions and social contexts. This presentation will briefly review the links and differences between relational wellbeing and the social value of friendliness. The topic will be illustrated with evidence from voluntary befriending and mentoring systems designed to promote benign forms of affinity to people at risk of loneliness."


David Bryce Yaden is a research fellow at The University of Pennsylvania in the Positive Psychology Center under the direction of Dr. Martin Seligman. He also works in collaboration with neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg of Thomas Jefferson University and The Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at The University of Pennsylvania. His research focus is on the psychology and cognitive-neuroscience of the varieties of self-transcendent and spiritual experiences. He recently edited an collection on this topic, Being Called: Scientific, Secular, and Sacred Perspectives.  His abstract reads "Self-transcendent experiences occur in over one-third of cross-cultural populations, are associated with a number of positive outcomes related to well-being, and are often counted among life's most meaningful moments. Despite their prevalence and significance, psychology has offered little in the way of explanation for the why, the what, or the how of these experiences. Self-transcendent experiences (STEs), are marked by decreased self-focus and increased feelings of connection to other people and one's environment. A self-transcendent quality can be found in common psychological constructs such as mindfulness, flow, self-transcendent positive emotions (love, joy), awe, peak experiences, and mystical experiences. I will discuss how recent methodological and technological advances can provide new insights into old questions about the phenomenology, neurobiological basis, and how these experiences are often potent sources of spirituality and meaning."

More to follow ...

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