There is a Chinese saying that if you hold your chopsticks very far from the end, you will live very far away from your parent’s home. I am not sure how very scientific this is but I can say this saying applies to me very well. Amongst all my friends, since I was a university student, I was the one who is always living far away from home. I feel I am someone who is always chasing something but I am not very sure what that is. When I was 18, I chose a university in the far north eastern part of China which required a domestic flight of more than 3 hours. Upon graduation I again chose to work in the southern part of China and got married there too. This does not mean I don’t love my parents or my hometown. I still think my hometown is one of the most beautiful places in the world. And with the most delicious food in the world... And even after my daughter was born in 2008, I still felt I was not at a place where I thought I should be.
I started the journey of trying to find out who I am, where I am from and going to, what is life, what is the most important thing I can leave to my little baby by taking a course named “Core Value” in January 2013. During that course, I found it was very easy for people to open their hearts and to share what people usually don’t share, people became happier after the sharing, there was joy, and even some crying.
People including me found out what kind of values are most precious to us from doing some very simple activities, like writing thank you notes to your classmates, doing a gratitude call to people you love or you feel thankful for. By simply playing in the sea like a five year old kid, I changed but was not sure why.
But the course did encourage me to walk out from my comfort zone and make career changes, something very challenging after working for 15 years in the same company with a very steady growth path to a very senior position. I did but at the same time did not know why all those simple activities could change me so much!I did not know until I encountered positive psychology in Japan some 3 years after I took my ‘Core Value’ course.
And that was miracle meeting. When we were doing the academic resource research for my own training and education company, I was recommended to a famous teacher from some of my Japanese friends. So I flew to Tokyo and took this one day course, its’ name was ‘Master of Positive Organization’ and the teacher was ‘Ilona Boniwell’. During that course, I was introduced to the concept of ‘Positive’ something I did not understand very well at beginning. So I read several books written or recommended by Dr. Ilona Boniwell such as ‘Positive Psychology in A Nutshell’, ‘Authentic Happiness’, ‘Flourish’, ‘Positivity’ etc. Whilst I was reading all those books, I suddenly realised what I was really chasing all along and that was ‘the meaning of life’.
I suddenly understood, the activities I participated in during the ‘Core Value’ course were called ‘Positive Psychology Interventions’ which aims to help people achieve and experience more happiness. I suddenly understood what happiness truly means. It was not money, not marriage, not a child, not a well-paid occupation but was ‘Positive Emotions’, ‘Full engagement when you are using your strength’, ‘Positive relationships’, ‘Meaningful life’, ‘Achievement in life’. So I made up my mind that this was the sort of education I wanted my child to have, that this is the concept and the training I should bring to those people who are like me, chasing something but not really knowing what.
So after encountering positive psychology in Japan, I decided to switch the strategy at my education centre from a ‘fix the problems of children’ direction to an ‘enhance well-being and use childrens’ strengths’ direction. But the pace of the change has been very slow. First of all, there were very few Positive Psychology professionals in China at the time. So I decided to devote myself to the training profession rather than only an operation position. So I decided to take the MAPP course in Singapore so that I can learn more about the underlying theory and invited famous teachers from France and Hong Kong to do the free talks to the public and to do workshops for our internal trainers and parents.
And now I am getting better and better at leading the happiness workshops for parents and for our staff. And I am busy but very happy each day. I am consciously practicing the positive emotion intervention with my family and colleagues.
Recently I have become very passionate about the research and application of strengths and strengths spotting. It has changed my outlook on and approach to life, in that I am more able to see the best in people and situations. But I still want to learn more about how to help children use and develop their strengths more. I feel there are still so many things to learn and practice and yet I no longer feel worried but feel fulfilled every day.
Although this is just the start of my journey of becoming a PP person, I feel that I have already made a lot of positive changes as a person. That’s not to claim that I am fault free or that I don’t make mistakes, as I think that’s human nature to be like that. I wouldn’t want to suppress instinctive emotions and reactions, but I am more aware that I want to flourish and to ensure that I bring joy into the life of others. I acknowledge that this journey of change and growth is something that I want to do, and would even go as far to say, must, devote the rest of my life to. Not as before, change now for me is something that is a constant in our lives and should be embraced rather than feared as it often is. Change can be an opportunity to learn something new, add to our talents and give more to the people and world around us.
I’m looking forward to adding to my journey of change by carrying out further research and applications, so as to expand the number and variety of Positive Psychology Interventions that could help make a positive difference in people’s lives and those around them.
Thanks to my friend who had recommended ‘Core Value’ Course tome. Thanks to my partners who have been standing with me along my positive psychology journey.
Author: Amber Jun Li