‘My journey with a MAPP’

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

I embarked on the MAPP course at UEL with the intention of learning about and applying positive psychology interventions in my workplace but the focus of the course led me on a different journey. I never was very good at map reading anyway so during my 2 year MAPP journey I have focused on topics of personal interest to me.

I have become a convert to hope theory which has proved to be the missing link in achieving my goals. Hope theory has taught me that being a card carrying optimist is just the beginning of the journey and that to arrive at a desired destination other elements need to be in place. It is important to have clear goals in line with your own values, several paths to acheiving goals as well as high levels of motivation and the willingness to ask for help. When I reflect on things which have previously not gone according to plan, I now recognize that one of these elements of hope theory was missing.

I also found self-compassion theory really enlightening. Previously I would have beaten myself up for not achieving something which I had put my mind to, but self-compassion research shows that cutting yourself some slack and treating yourself as kindly as you would a dear friend is a much more helpful and much more successful way to reach your goals.

The growth mindset theory equally suggests that the important thing to recognize is that you are not there yet. Simply because someone is not an expert in something at this point in their lives does not mean that they can’t get there in the future through hard work and perseverance. For example, applying self-compassion and a growth mindset enabled me to significantly increase my levels of willpower, courage and even fitness.

I became fascinated by the connection between a healthy mind and a healthy body and by the somatopsychic side to flourishing. As educationalist Ken Robinson quipped in his brilliant TED talk, I used to be one of those people who thought that the sole purpose of my body was to take my head to another meeting! Realizing how closely mind and body are interlinked led me to explore the effects of positive nutrition on both physical and psychological well-being and to discover the close links between the theories of functional medicine and positive psychology.

By experimenting with increasing courage through a 30 day challenge in which I did something that scared me every day I became fascinated by how people choose to overcome their fears to live courageous lives. My Masters thesis is looking at people who pursue a courageous vision to make the world a better place.

The serenity prayer sums up my MAPP journey beautifully. There are so many things I can change, if I choose to, and just because I am not there yet doesn’t mean that I won’t find myself in a different place in the future.


Further reading:

Lopez, S. J. (2013). Making hope happen: Create the future you want for yourself and others. Simon and Schuster

Baumeister, R. F., & Tierney, J. (2011). Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength. Penguin

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House

Hefferon, K. (2013). Positive Psychology and the Body. McGraw-Hill Education (UK)

Hyman, M. (2009). The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First. Simon and Schuster

Robinson, K. (2013). Finding your element: How to discover your talents and passions and transform your life. Penguin UK

Pury, C. L., & Lopez, S. J. (2010). The psychology of courage: Modern research on an ancient virtue. American Psychological Association


‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’


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