Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Wellbeing – and How To Achieve Them

Seligman M (2011) Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Wellbeing – and How To Achieve Them. Nicholas Brealey Publishing: London


Martin Seligmans book is for me a real triumph. It builds on his earlier book on authentic happiness. I must admit that when the original book was published I felt that happiness was too narrow a focus and in true Seligman style he opens his book by accepting this and broadening his definition of well being.

A key part of this book is the narrative that Seligman uses to describe his own journey from an animal researcher who quite literally electrocuted dogs to the premier world leader in positive psychology. This of course is a major transformation and represents a really interesting journey.  Seligman is willing to share personal reflection and insights with his readers.  I also like the fact that Seligman is also not afraid to be blunt in his views about research. for example when he talks about science he dismisses the armchair theorising and logic of Wittgenstein and presents a more scientific approach in the spirit of Popper (1959). His comments about basic research without purpose were robust and humorous and I am afraid even I would not print!

Seligman argues that well being is ” a construct and happiness is a thing” (pp14). In this book Seligman elaborates on his 5 component model of well being (or flourishing) using the acronym PERMA. This stands for positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. The book describes applications of this work ranging from schools to the US military. I particularly liked the emphasis on building psychological resilience rather than on “fixing things”. It is a personal opinion, but, I do believe that somewhere along the line psychologists become taxonomists and fixers\repairers rather than architects.

Unusually  for me I must admit that I did find this book very inspirational. Initially, I had thought about writing a review with the usual minor critiques of terminology. But, in reality this book contains a narrative that I feel that all professionals should read and reflect.

I have spent my career working with people with intellectual disabilities and or autism and it has become increasingly clear to me that the PERMA model fits very well with not only my own philosophy, but that of my colleagues in both Studio3 (www.studio3.org)  and Atlass autism, (www.atlassautism.com). This book is now set reading on all our training on autism stress.

Andrew McDonnell, PhD.
Director Studio 3,
Lead Scientist Practitioner, ATLASS.
June 2013.

Sign up for our next Atlass Masterclass!

ATLASS MASTERCLASS


“Inspirational”


Our programme consists of a five day induction which focusses on stress and apply knowledge of stress management to carers and staff.

The Masterclass caters for practitioners with experience of working with people with autism from a variety of backgrounds. The programme is designed to develop lead facilitators in participant organisations.

A five day induction course on 9-13 December 2013

And follow up days on 13th, 14th February and 10th, 11th April 2014

Venue:  Alcester, Warwickshire

With Dr Andrew McDonnell and Dr Michael McCreadie

For further information and a booking form please contact

admin@studio3.org

We recognise that autism not only affects the individual but also those around the individual and therefore we take a holistic approach to support them and intervention. We have developed a range of services which specifically help manage stress and the development of coping skills as an essential part of the therapeutic process. Our courses cater for all practitioners and carers.

www.atlassautism.com

Humour Types and Happiness

Humor Types Show Different Patterns
of Self-Regulation, Self-Esteem, and Well-Being

Anja K. Leist  Daniela Muller
Published online: 12 May 2012

Journal of Happiness Studies

Abstract

Humor styles have been found to be associated with well-being, however, no study has addressed the distinct well-being associations of combinations of humor styles, that is, humor types, yet. The present study thus aimed at investigating which combinations of humor styles exist and to which extent these humor types are associated with well-being. In an online questionnaire, the Humor Styles Questionnaire (HSQ, Martin et al. J Res Pers 37:48–75, 2003), self-regulatory strategies, self-esteem, and well-being instruments were administered to a German sample. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses replicated the underlying structure of the HSQ. With hierarchical clustering, we found evidence for three humor types (endorsers, humor deniers, and self-enhancers), which differed in group means for self-esteem, self-regulatory strategies, and well-being. Findings provide further evidence for the positive well-being correlates of self-enhancing humor, and distinctly address the positive correlates of aggressive and self-defeating humor being absent. It is discussed that humor styles cannot be conceptualized as beneficial or detrimental per se, but have to be regarded in context.

Happiness and Autism

Happiness and Autism

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Abraham Lincoln

We often speak about quality of life but, the term happiness is often avoided as it is considered to be subjective. But, thinking about people with autism who sometimes become very stressed happiness and wellbeing are meaningful goals. Happiness is defined, as the overall appreciation of one’s life-as-a-whole, in short, how much one likes the life one lives. (Veenhoven, 2006).
Studies have indicated that 40% of happiness may be determined by intentional activities, 50% genetic and 10% life circumstances  (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon & Schkade, 2005).

Happiness  is associated with many positive effects on physical health and it is key for people who wish to work with people who are highly stressed. It is our view that happiness should be an area of increasing interest for researchers. In the ATLASS programme we place the happiness of carers and people with autism at the core of our approach.

Consider the following approach; the next time you see a person with autism who presents with challenging behaviours, focus on what gives them momentary happiness and do more of it. This of course also applies to their carers.

Flow and Autism

To examine concepts like mindfulness we need to understand the mechanisms involved in flow. Flow is a concept developed by Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow occurs when people are engaged in controllable but challenging tasks. Usually these activities require a considerable amount of skill (ie running, sailing stimulating conversation.)

The key characteristics of flow are.

1) People become absorbed in activities.
2) Individuals  have a heightened sense of control which reduces their anxiety.
3) Flow tasks can become “autotelic”. That is they become self motivating.
4) Flow activities can be viewed as coping strategies in that they help a person ‘tune out’

Many people with autism are stressed individuals who find the world a confusing place (Vermeulen, 2013). So How does someone with autism achieve a sense of flow? One obvious area can be engaging in special interests.
Special interests allow people to become absorbed in an area that gives them specialist knowledge and a sense of achievement. In addition certain repetitive tasks can help people achieve a flow like state of mind. These tasks can become absorbing and are an important part of peoples lives. The next time you see an individual with autism engaging in a repetitive task (stacking Lego or playing a computer game), remember that these are not in themselves negative activities, they may well be reducing stress.

Mindfully Valuing People Now

Chapman MJ and Mitchell D (2013). Mindfully Valuing People Now: An Evaluation of Introduction to Mindfulness Workshops for People with Intellectual Disabilities. 4, 168-178

Workshops were clearly acceptable to people with intellectual disabilities, and further work is needed to develop and evaluate a group mindfulness program that is accessible to people with intellectual disabilities.
There is a lack of research exploring the use of mindfulness groups for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a community setting. This paper explores the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities and carers who participated in Introduction to Mindfulness workshops. The mindfulness workshops consisted of an introduction to mindfulness and a body scan meditation. Participants were given a leaflet about mindfulness and an audio CD of mindfulness exercises. A questionnaire survey was conducted of people who attended the mindfulness workshops and qualitative interviews were carried out with six people with intellectual disabilities (three of whom were supported by paid or family carers). Feedback on the workshops was generally positive. Workshop participants valued the opportunity to talk to other people about their experiences and found the workshops, and in particular the body scan, very relaxing. Three of the people with intellectual disabilities who were interviewed had listened to the audio recording since the workshops and two of these had found it useful in aiding them to cope with phobias, stress and discrimination. Participants wanted further mindfulness sessions and felt that other people with intellectual disabilities could benefit from mindfulness training. The interviews revealed that people with intellectual disabilities may have very stressful lives. Mindfulness could be a useful way of helping people to manage such stress.

Understanding Autism: New Atlass Masterclass 9-13 December 2013

ATLASS MASTERCLASS


Working with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Managing Stress

The Masterclass caters for practitioners with experience of working with people with autism from a variety of backgrounds. The programme is designed to develop lead facilitators in participant organisations.

A five day training course on:

9-13 December 2013

With 4 follow up days in 2014

Venue:  Alcester, Warwickshire

With Dr Andrew McDonnell and Dr Michael McCreadie

For further information and a booking form please contact

admin@studio3.org

We recognise that autism not only affects the individual but also those around the individual and therefore we take a holistic approach to support them and intervention. We have developed a range of services which specifically help manage stress and the development of coping skills as an essential part of the therapeutic process. Our courses cater for all practitioners and carers.

www.atlassautism.com

Atlass Masterclass June 2013

Atlass Masterclass June 2013

photo.JPG

This programme was shared between Michael McCreadie and Andy McDonnell. The groups consisted of contingents from the North and West of Ireland and Sweden.

It was really interesting to compare and contrast the different cultures views of autism. It was again refreshing that people really got the idea that stress is a core feature of autism and that stress management is important for these individuals and their supporters.

We would also like to stress that the wealth of experience of these individuals has as usual contributed to the quality of this training.

We have also focussed a great deal on the PERMA model promoted by Seligman (2011).

Wellbeing is related to:

Positive Experiences
Engagement.
Relationships
Meaning
Achievement\Accomplishment.

The group will be applying their knowledge to individuals and we look forward to seeing them in September to monitor their progress.

More speculation about cortisol stress and adolescent with autism

More speculation about cortisol stress and adolescent with autism

PDF on this link

Mindfulness-Based Treatment of Aggression

Mindfulness-Based Treatment of Aggression in Individuals with Mild Intellectual Disabilities: A Waiting List Control Study

Nirbhay N. Singh & Giulio E. Lancioni & Bryan T. Karazsia & Alan S. W. Winton & Rachel E. Myers & Ashvind N. A. Singh & Angela D. A. Singh & Judy Singh

Abstract Physical and verbal aggression is a significant problem for some individuals with mild intellectual disabilities who reside in the community. We assessed the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based procedure, Meditation on the Soles of the Feet, to control both physical and verbal aggression. The design was a two-group (experimental and waiting list control) randomized controlled trial with four 12-week phases. A total of 57 individuals were referred to the trial, with 34 eligible for random assignment to the experimental and control conditions. Results showed a significant reduction in physical and verbal aggression commensurate with mindfulness-based training, when compared to the waiting list control condition. Similar reductions in physical and verbal aggression were evident when the same training was introduced in the control condition. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of the mindfulness-based procedure  for assisting individuals with mild intellectual dis- abilities to control their physical and verbal aggression.

Mindfulness 2013,4, 158-167