Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In the Wild - Carol Craig

Carol Craig – Chief Executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well Being

Carol Craig
Carol Craig,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
Are we too interested in what's wrong with people than what's right? Seligman's book - Authentic Happiness explores aspects of happiness and well-being.

. First level: Most people associate money with happiness but once basic needs are met, more money does not bring more happiness. We can get on a hedonic treadmill (spelling?). It was as a taxi driver described it, "I am a monster of my own making."

Engagement. Second level - engagement: we get lost in the process of doing things. We get in the flow. We lose track of time. We get involved in things that are challenging (so we are not bored) but not too challenging (so we don't get discouraged). When in the flow, we don't feel happy - it is afterwards we feel the pleasure. (Carol claimed that teachers often experience flow.)

Purpose. Third aspect chimes with Scottish values service to others. People who are happy have meaning in their lives.

Are we too focused on ourselves as individuals? The fixation on trying to make people feel good about themselves is not doing people any favours. If I do not see myself as the centre of the universe I am better able to cope with setbacks. Choice can be paralysing rather than empowering. It is possible that trying to boost self-esteem we could be make it harder for people to be happy.

English initiative (SEAL) which seeks to teach all children (3-18) emotional well-being (for example by expressing their feelings) could store up mental and emotional problems for the future. Problem children may be too narcissistic and think of themselves as too important. Cf. confident individuals - are we going to set targets and checklists etc. in A Curriculum for Excellence? In Scotland we are working on confidence rather than happiness but the danger is that it focusses in on self instead of

We need to reconnect people with what is important in life. Positive psychology is good and is researched based but if politicians turn it into checklists and measuring the happiness of pupils it will be a disaster.

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