What Do Students Learn in Positive Psychology?

There is not a class that goes by that I do not see a tremendous amount of growth in the general population of the students who fill my higher education Positive Psychology cyber classroom each semester. Research vastly supports the benefits of learning factors associated with Positive Psychology in the indications there is a growth in self, with others, and out to the world1. But what does that look like? Well, week seven of ten, into the thick of the material, I posed the opportunity for the class to respond to:


As part of building esteem you could implement these into any environment in many ways (talking circles, story time, discussions, relation improvement sessions…). Look at the list below and propose an environment (population), a strategy and what you might see as an outcome. How would it be beneficial to the population, corporations or the world in general? Pick one of the following and list the ways you can do this and how the list would be beneficial.                       

                       10 things you can do to make yourself laugh
                       10 things you can do to make someone else laugh
                       10 ways to help another person
                       10 things you can do for yourself that don’t consist of buying something.

After seven weeks of learning Positive Psychology, this is how on student, Lovena Mahelona, responded:

1. Listening – listening goes a long way no matter who you’re listening to and where the consult is taking place. As tasking as it may be, listening to an angered friend, family, child, or co-worker, you have the opportunity to help the individual process information by providing them with feedback and options they might not have considered.

2. Helping hand – If my schedule permits I offer to help someone move, cook for a party, volunteer for garage sales, etc.

3. Planning family gatherings – families love to get together and rendering such an event can be tasking. However, once the family is together it is always a happy occasion.

4. Feeding the hungry – everyone needs help from time to time whether your homeless or in a home but struggling financially. I not only buy food for the homeless (I don’t give money), I also help out with a bag of rice or case of saimin for families who are struggling to survive. I’ll tell you a funny story; back in the day when I was working at Jack in the Box, a homeless man came in and begged for a burger or fries, he stated he hadn’t eaten anything for a couple of days. We are not supposed to give away food especially those that are expired because if someone got food poising they could sue the company. Mr. Homeless came right when I was supposed to toss to spoilage five jumbo jacks and the manager wasn’t around.  I gave him one and asked him to leave as I could get fired and he did. Mr. Homeless decided to come back while I was taking things out to the dumpster and my manager was at the front counter. He told her, “the nice lady gave me this burger because I’m really hungry but it has onions, I’m allergic to onions”. The manager took the burger and asked him to leave. I almost lost my job that day. Needless to say, never again did do it.

5. Donating unused clothes and household items – Our church holds garage sales to help fund certain holiday events. I always use that opportunity to clean out my closets and unused household items.

6. Training – when someone goes through a life event that I may have gone through and asks for advice, I tell them my experience and how I got through. This is not to talk about myself but explaining how I managed that situation could help them to generate ideas. I also train all my children with life choices and I don’t give them the answers and demand they do things my way. I give them the tools to make their own choices and I leave them with the consequences of those decisions.

7. Say something nice or paying a compliment– giving compliments makes people smile. I get shy when I’m given a compliment but I like how I feel after receiving one. At work there’s a program called ‘sharing the mango.’ If someone does something nice for you or helps you with a task, you complete the ‘share the mango’ form. On the form you list who the mango is to be presented to and write a comment and the individual is presented with a fake mango. The form I accounted for and the person with the most mangos’ quarterly receives a gift card that is presented by the V.P. Each time someone from another department provides me aide, I send them a mango. This helps to build my network at work and expands my contacts from each department of those who assist me.

8. Seeking out mentoring – at work I look for ways to grow and learn new processes and functions. This is done outside of my normal job functions. It pleases me to know that most individuals I seek out to mentor me, are more than happy to share their knowledge and experiences with me. I believe I’m helping them feel confident and needed in their job roles.

9. Letting people cut in front of me in traffic. When there is traffic, people are not always forgiving in letting someone cut in. If you recall in week two I confided about how I manage myself on the road. After that post I had to reconsider my ‘road etiquette.’  I am happy to say, when vehicles have the blinker on, I allow them to get in front of me and flames no longer comes out of my ears! The people I let in are thankful; they do the thank you wave after they get in. It may seem like something small but I see how much this gesture is appreciated.

10. Taking care of the elderly – Volunteering to help the elderly; family or at a nursing home of strangers. Being present really brightens their days and they are so elated to share their life’s stories and talk about their families. This bring good memories to their day, some of them forget they are in confinement.


All the points I shared are expression of kindness I give that, in my experience, brings so much joy and happiness to people. Although it may be for one hour a day, one bag of clothing, or one musubi and a bottle of water, it has been my experience that in these moments I tend to become happier and more appreciative than of those who I am providing for.

These mindsets can be within us if we chose to develop and nurture them. Sometimes, it takes being a little more mindful, a little more grateful, a little more attentive to life and how we connect in ways, to see what makes us happier by how we go out into the world and live our life. Learning Positive Psychology is not just about ‘learning’ and getting a grade, it is about connecting the learning to living a flourishing life.
1 Soots, L. (2015). The educator’s portrayal of learning transformations in a positive psychology adult learning course room: A qualitative study (Doctoral dissertation) Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (Accession Order No. 3700863)

About the Author: Lovena Mahelona is a dynamic student at Chaminade University. Her education goals are to attain a Masters in Clinical Psychology. Her passion for life and learning compels her to make the most of everything and each day.

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

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