Editor’s Note: The following remembrance was prepared by Sheldon Stone’s colleagues in the Department of Physics. Sheldon Stone, distinguished professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, passed away Oct. 6 after battling a chronic illness for many…
Tap Into the Power of Positive Psychology with the Thrive! Well-Being Series
We are living in an age of overwhelm. With access to all of the world’s information never more than a few finger taps away, mounting societal pressure to be the perfect [spouse, parent, employee, insert your noun of choice here], a news cycle that doesn’t seem to quit and to-do lists that never seem to get any shorter… it’s no wonder that many people are experiencing burnout, dissatisfaction, feeling “stuck” or just plain, old unhappiness.
“A lot of people right now are really looking for something, anything, to help them feel better, manage stress and move ‘north of neutral,’” says Jaime Weisberg, founder of Northbound Coaching & Consulting and facilitator of the Thrive! well-being series on campus.
“Traditional psychology has only gotten us so far—it’s primarily focused on the removal of mental illness. But just because you’re not depressed, doesn’t mean you’re happy or thriving. We all exist on a continuum of languishing and flourishing, of illness and wellness. Even if you’re suffering in some areas, there are still ways to move above that neutral point. That’s where the field of positive psychology comes in.”
Positive Psychology: What It Is (and Isn’t)
Positive psychology is, in short, the study of how anyone can become happier and more fulfilled. “One of the biggest misconceptions about positive psychology is that it involves aiming to be positive all the time, or burying one’s head in the sand and not acknowledging reality,” Weisberg says. “What it’s actually about is building up tools that can help you while experiencing the full range of human emotions, including negative ones, in a way that is more conducive to an overall positive experience.”
At an organizational level, research has shown that bringing positive psychology programs into the workplace has a positive effect on employee performance, motivation, engagement, conflict resolution and original thinking. “Our brains work better in a positive state rather than a negative or stressed out state,” Weisberg explains. “Happiness is often thought of as a nicety, not a necessity—but if you can get your employees in a happy, engaged space, feeling lots of positive emotions, they’re much better suited to achieve organizational goals like productivity and bottom lines.”
That’s Where Thrive! Comes In
The Thrive! program was developed specifically for Syracuse University faculty and staff by Weisberg, who studied human development at Cornell University and is well-credentialed in the fields of positive psychology and resilience. It kicked off last month and is comprised of 12 one-hour lunchtime sessions.
Each session includes a self-contained lesson about a facet of positive psychology, a bit of workshopping in which participants figure out how it applies to their own life and tools for incorporating the lesson into one’s day-to-day life. “We begin each session by laying out the theory and the science behind the concept—because for behavior change to happen, you have to understand the ‘why,’” says Weisberg. “Then we encourage participants to put some personal context around the concept through different activities and group work. Finally, we introduce a tool or strategy that people can take back and incorporate into their lives.”
Although the concepts do build upon one another from session to session, each one can also stand on its own and faculty and staff are invited to check out one or many of the 10 remaining sessions.
“But I’m Too Busy!”
You might be saying to yourself, “This sounds great, but I am WAY too busy to attend something like this.” If that’s you… you just might need a program like Thrive! “Busyness is often glorified in our society, but it can be detrimental to our work, relationships and health and inhibits our ability to develop resilience against stress,” says Weisberg. “If you feel like you’re too busy and overwhelmed to attend one of the sessions, I would say that you’re definitely a candidate for one and can likely get a lot out of it!”
Upcoming Thrive! sessions include “What’s Right with You: Uncovering and Utilizing Your Strengths” (Nov. 19 and 21) and “Slow Down to Speed Up: Mindfulness, Meditation and Savoring” (Dec. 10 and 12). For your convenience, each session will be offered on two different dates and at different locations. More information can be found on the Wellness Initiative website. If you plan to attend and require accommodations, please contact the Wellness Initiative at 315.443.5472 or firstname.lastname@example.org.