Embodied Positive Psychology Summit Keynotes

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Embodied Positive Psychology Summit: Leadership in Education

Keynote Speakers

Embracing the Mystery of Meaning with Michael F. Steger

Meaning and purpose in your life—and in your students’ lives—are mysteries to explore, not puzzles to solve. The noted journalist Malcolm Gladwell wrote, “Mysteries require judgments and the assessment of uncertainty, and the hard part is not that we have too little information but that we have too much.” This is true, too, of our quest for meaning in our lives.

Is living a life of meaning and purpose a puzzle or a mystery? Do we simply need more information, or do we need help figuring out how to assemble the knowledge we already have? This experiential session invites you on a journey of wonder. Yes, knowledge is power, but we also need to live with our eyes and hearts open to the unexpected. We need to appreciate that uncertainty will always be with us, and uncertainty can lead us to see new ways of assembling what we know about life.

In this session, participants learn how to

  • Articulate the research basis for meaning as a component of well-being
  • Utilize one or more positive psychology interventions that, according to preliminary data, indicated benefits for meaning
  • Understand the key role of wonder in finding meaning in life.

The goal of this session is to empower and encourage people to embrace the search for meaning in their lives.

Michael F. Steger, PhD, is a professor of psychology and the founding director of the Center for Meaning and Purpose at Colorado State University. His research focuses on how people flourish through building meaning and purpose in their lives and work. His published works include two widely used measurement tools, the Meaning in Life Questionnaire and the Work and Meaning Inventory, as well as three co-edited books, The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of Positivity, Strengths-Based Approaches at Work, and Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace. He offers keynotes, lectures, workshops, and consulting around the world on the topics of meaning, purpose, psychological strengths, meaningful work, and creating a happy workplace.

Activating Character Strengths to Increase Well-Being with Jillian Coppley Darwish

What describes you at your very best, and how can you activate your human goodness to increase your well-being and the well-being of those around you? Explore your unique strengths and how you can focus them toward increasing your own and others’ engagement, performance, and happiness.

Participants take home an understanding of the language of character strengths, as well as how to apply a strengths-based perspective in their own lives and in a workplace, classroom, or organization.

In this session, participants learn how to

  • Understand the language of character strengths
  • Apply that understanding in their own lives
  • Implement this new knowledge in their workplaces.

The goal of the session is to offer participants the knowledge and commitment to adopt a strengths-based perspective to increase their own and others’ well-being.

Jillian Coppley Darwish currently serves as president and CEO of Mayerson Academy, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming individual, team, and organizational performance. Under her leadership, the Academy has become the exclusive education partner of the VIA Institute, working with schools, universities, organizations and communities to utilize the science of character strengths to transform cultures. The Academy’s work has been featured in EdWeek, Live Happy, and US News and World Report, and Jillian has been invited to share the Academy’s work around the globe, including presentations in China, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, and Hong Kong. Prior to her current role, Jillian held leadership positions in philanthropy, public television, and education. At KnowlegeWorks, a national education foundation, she led the development of a highly regarded future trends publication, consulted with hundreds of organizations to construct future-oriented visions and strategies for education, developed state collaborations to transform education, and created a robust teacher-to-teacher learning community. In her former roles, Jillian led teams to create multimedia products and services, and received national recognition for the design of an organizational learning system. She is an award-winning educator, passionate about the potential of learning to create an increasingly positive future.

Embodied Mindfulness in Educational Leadership with Edi Pasalis

The many demands of today’s educational system cause stress for educators and students alike. How you work within this environment can either create exhaustion, as a result of trying to do it all, or elevation, as you engage personal and organizational resources to cultivate calm, choose focus for clarity, and nurture positive support from connections.

In this session, participants experience the 3C method for embodied resilience and explore how personal transformation can create organizational impact.

They will learn how to

  • Navigate stressors successfully to reduce burnout and exhaustion
  • Use body-centered tools to increase mindfulness and decrease stress
  • Implement resilience tools and practices for a healthier, happier, and more engaged school culture.

The goal of this session is to inspire educators to focus on their own mindful, embodied resilience by placing it in the context of the educational mission.

Edi Pasalis is an experienced social impact leader who cultivates mindful, resilient organizations. She is the driving force behind RISE, Kripalu’s evidence-based initiative that trains individuals in high-impact, high-stress organizations and helps create more people-centered, emotionally intelligent workplaces. Edi has overseen the training of thousands of educators, health and human services providers, law enforcement personnel, business leaders, and middle and high school students. Scientific documentation of her work has been published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health and the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edi has presented at the American Academy of Management; the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society; and the Symposium on Yoga Research. She holds master’s degrees from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Harvard Divinity School, and certificates in Kripalu Yoga and positive psychology.

LEAP: Integrating Positive Psychology into Learning Experiences

with Karen S. Whelan-Berry and Jane S. Anderson

Positive psychology identifies key foundations for human flourishing: meaning and purpose, awareness of the mind/body connection, positive relationships and emotions, and engaging character strengths. When learning is deliberately connected to these key foundations, it becomes supercharged, supporting a more meaningful, immediate, and long-term application in everyday life.

This workshop presents the LEAP framework for designing and delivering embodied learning experiences. We’ll review case examples and survey results that demonstrate the impact of the framework on learner engagement and on participants’ confidence levels in applying their new knowledge to their life and work.

In this session, participants

  • Apply the LEAP framework to their own learning goal or situation
  • Explore case studies that illustrate how the framework can inform a positive psychology workshop, a character strengths workshop, and a graduate leadership course
  • Review participant feedback to find out how this approach empowers learners.

The goal of this session is to examine how the LEAP framework can be used for the classroom and adult education, and in employee development and training.

Karen Whelan-Berry, PhD, is a positive psychology scholar/practitioner with extensive corporate and higher education experience. She focuses on research and practice at the intersection of ideal self, teams, and performance excellence; instructional design that cultivates immediate and long-term skills and habits; and individual and organizational positive change. Karen has authored more than 20 publications, won awards for her research, and given numerous presentations at national and international positive psychology and management academic conferences. She holds a PhD in Organizational Studies from the Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College, an MBA from Bentley College, and a Certificate in Positive Psychology.

Jane S. Anderson is the author of 30 Days of Character Strengths: A Guided Practice to Ignite Your Best, and the president of Strength Based Living, a business dedicated to harnessing strengths in individuals and groups. She is a positive psychology practitioner, facilitator, coach, and business consultant who has worked with hundreds of people to help them live their best lives and create a ripple effect of goodness, happiness, and success. Jane holds an MBA from DePaul University and certificates in positive psychology, Positive Psychology Coaching, and mindfulness-based strengths practices. She serves as adjunct faculty for Wholebeing Institute.

Weaving Your Life: Synthesizing Multiple Roles with Lamis S. Al-Solaim

Educators are constantly juggling multiple roles and challenges, from adverse home environments to school administration requirements to the daily work of connecting with students.

In this session, we’ll look at how we can trade juggling for weaving, a metaphor that describes a more mindful, purposeful, albeit slower, process of role integration. Throughout history and across cultures, women have been weavers—of family, culture, and work. By threading meaning and personal agency through our life and career, we can create a brilliant and resilient tapestry.

In this session, participants learn how to

  • Identify your role—and the implication of that role—in the tapestry of your life
  • Understand your strengths, using them as a frame of reference when making decisions
  • Practice accepting that every life tapestry is unique and will have flaws
  • Be open and curious about the unexpected “yarns” that life presents and how they can enrich your experience.

The goal of this session is to see purpose as a starting point for integrating multiple life roles.

Lamis Al-Solaim, PhD, a child psychologist working in the area of global mental health, is a research fellow with the Chester M. Pierce, MD, Division of Global Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she works to address the need for child and adolescent mental-health services in the Middle East. Lamis holds a master’s in applied child development from Tufts University and a PhD in psychology from the Royal Holloway University of London. Her doctoral dissertation was published in a major scientific journal due to its pioneering observations on religious manifestations of obsessive-compulsive disorder in young Saudi women. She is also certified in positive psychology. Lamis has recently written an Arabic/English children’s book, The Silent Nightingale.