by Nicole Stottlemyer

They say that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

As I sat in the Certificate in Positive Psychology (CiPP) classroom, with 180 other students from around the globe, I wondered what would be possible if we all combined our unique backgrounds, experiences, and strengths.

Would our whole be greater than the sum of our parts?

In theory, yes. So, in an effort to keep us “whole,” I initiated a series of get-togethers of current and past students in multiple cities throughout the northeastern United States. (People always say that they’ll get together, but rarely do without an organizer.) I called these gatherings the “CiPP Tours.”

The purpose of these meetups is to connect with one another and deepen our understanding of what we’ve learned. Some people have described them as mini-immersions. It’s great fun to introduce new students to alumni, and have conversations about how we’re using this material in our lives and in our work.

There’s a famous Native American story that encapsulates the mission of the CiPP tours: One evening, an old Cherokee tells his grandson that, inside all people, a battle goes on between two wolves. One wolf is negativity: anger, sadness, stress, contempt, disgust, fear, embarrassment, guilt, shame, and hate. The other is positivity: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and, above all, love. The grandson thinks about this for a minute, then asks his grandfather, “Well, which wolf wins?”

The grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”

At our CiPP gatherings, we practice feeding the positive wolf.

We feed joy in just being together, in person, with all four classes in the same room. We feed gratitude for one another. We feed serenity in the deep breaths we take together. We feed interest in discussing how we are each using the material and how we are paying it forward to help others. We feed hope in making the world a better place, because together we are stronger. We feed pride in connecting across four CiPP classes. We feed amusement as we laugh together. We feed inspiration by hearing about other’s work. We feed awe in hearing how the newest CiPP students are making great changes in their lives. And, last but not least … we feed love for one another by being together in a like-minded community of positive change agents.

I believe, with my whole-entire-being, that leveraging the power of CiPP students and alumni will make a tremendous impact in the world.

If you are a student or alumni of CiPP and would like to join us for one of these meetups, check the schedule. We’d be honored to have you!

Click here to learn more about the Certificate in Positive Psychology.


Nicole Stottlemyer is a coach, facilitator, and senior teaching assistant with Wholebeing Institute, and holds Wholebeing certificates in Positive Psychology and Positive Psychology Coaching.