The personal development (PD) space is an interesting one. I have worked on a range of sports, business and PD magazines that each touched on positive psychology, but I will admit to being a little bit cynical about the hype created by some of its spruikers.

I have a particularly harsh view of the ‘million-dollar-in-a-minute’ personal development coaches who are all bombast, with no substance, so when I come across people who offer true value in the space I am inclined to listen to them.
5 ways to live a positive life

The value of personal development experts

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Megan McDonough recently. Megan is the CEO of the Wholebeing Institute and I have mentioned her in a previous blog.

She is a proponent of positive psychology, which may seem a trite term, but when examined properly can offer a great deal to those looking to genuinely improve their lives.

When you speak with Megan you instantly recognise her genuine passion for improvement. What is also evident, and what sets her apart from many of those who live in this category, is her genuine interest in the person she is speaking with.

Megan is not a spruiker. She is the genuine article. And there is no comparison between what she is trying to achieve and the spruikers who tell you that positive thinking will create abundance – when all they are really trying to do is line their own pockets. When I look back at some of the advertisers who took out pages in magazines I have edited, I sometimes hang my head. 

So I would like to make it clear that the Wholebeing Institute and their school of Positive Thinking is so far removed from your own perception of the personal development industry, that it puts to shame some of the teachers who rely on hype and not substance to motivate an audience.

Megan will look you in the eye and there is an honesty there that makes you comfortable. There is value in what she has to say. There is continuity and most importantly there is science.

This is real psychology not some trumped up version of some spruiker’s pseudo beliefs.

Suffice to say, I was impressed with Megan. I was impressed by her insight, her elucidation, her passion for the topics we discussed and for her genuine compassion for people’s wellbeing. So here’s what I learnt.

5 lessons for positive psychology

“We are 3D people who need a 3D model of wellbeing,” Megan says. How do we achieve this:

1. Create a growth mindset. People are more open to learning and more creative at problem solving. When you create a growth mindset you are able to run healthy, functional teams.

2. Strength spotting. Recognize the character strengths in others (according to the VIA Institute, there are 24 character strengths across cultures).

Focus on what works. In business we are trained to look at what needs to be fixed. Instead we need to also focus on what is working.

3. Mindfulness is a key endeavour. Focus on creating mental space.

4. Flow. Cultivating a state of flow creates uber focus and the ability to immerse oneself in a task to deliver something outstanding.

5.  Get to know yourself and what you need to do to create wellbeing in your life. As Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project says, “We’re not meant to run at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. Science tells us we’re at our best when we move rhythmically between spending and renewing energy.

The key to wellbeing is the ability to create mental space and therefore the flexibility to go from one activity to another with minimal stress. This also includes an ability to be mindful of what external and internal occurrences. By doing this you create the space you need to make the right choices for your wellbeing. 

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Jonathan Jackson

Jonathan Jackson is an experienced editor and writer who has worked in print and digital media for almost 20 years.

Jonathan has edited titles across a range of industries including sports and lifestyle, health, trade and business and finance. Among these titles are Soccer International, Women’s Fitness and Health, Wealth Creator, Think & Grow Rich, Your Trading Edge and Business First of which he is currently the managing editor.

Jonathan has also written two books: Offside - The Wild Side of Soccer and Australia's Wealth Creators.

He is the Media and Content Manager for Marketing Eye.

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