by Alison Deutsch

I had to muster up a great deal of courage when I decided to go to the IPPA World Congress in June 2013. Up to that point, my education in positive psychology consisted of reading a few books, listening to several online lectures, and participating in a workshop. Additionally, I knew only one person who would be attending.

But, propelled by my love of learning, and my deep desire to make a career in the field of positive psychology, I threw my backpack over the wall, as they say. I chose to act “as if” I were a positive psychology practitioner, and went for it.

Turns out I was following advice from Kelly McGonigal. In her TED Talk on how to make stress your friend, Kelly says, “The best way to make decisions is to go after what makes meaning in your life and trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.” In my case, the experience did not disappoint.

For those not familiar with it, the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) was founded in 2007 with the mission to

· Promote the science of positive psychology and its research-based applications
· Facilitate collaboration among researches, teachers, students, and practitioners
· Share findings with the broadest possible audience.

Every two years, IPPA hosts its signature event, the World Congress. It’s the largest gathering of positive psychology researchers, practitioners, and students in the world.

My experience at the 2013 World Congress in Los Angeles, California, contributed to my personal growth in all five arenas of SPIRE.

Despite my fear, I was driven to attend the conference by an overwhelming desire to be in the company of the leading thinkers, researchers. and practitioners in positive psychology. That sense of purpose and meaning grounded me, and allowed me to bring my best possible self to the conference.

The organizers expertly offered a wide variety of programming formats throughout the weekend. A mixture of plenary sessions, symposia, workshops, and informal meet-ups kept the attendees moving and interacting.

Since love of learning is one of my signature strengths, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Within the span of three days, I heard keynote lectures from Martin Seligman, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Barbara Fredrickson, and Ray Baumeister, to name a few. I attended symposia and workshops where I heard about best practices from practitioners in the fields of positive business, education, coaching, and health. I wandered through poster sessions and exhibitions, discovering the latest educational programs being offered and browsing the cutting-edge products about to be released into the marketplace.

Several informal gatherings allowed participants to network and socialize. Attendees were so very giving and generous with their time. If you’re willing to bring yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, there’s so much opportunity. While I was there, I introduced myself to several practitioners and ended up collaborating with them on projects the year after the conference.

Being surrounded by 1,200 attendees from 54 different countries, all talking about the latest research in the field of positive psychology, was inspirational and elevating. Imagine the joy and uplifting energy of a CiPP immersion at Kripalu, and multiply it exponentially.

CiPP alumni attending the fourth World Congress in Buena Vista, Florida, at the end of June, will have quite a different experience. With more than 30 CiPP alumni already registered to attend, there will be a built-in community of fellow “choir members.” Our own Tal Ben-Shahar will be a keynote speaker, and Megan McDonough will be leading a workshop. Several CiPP alumni have been invited to present posters and facilitate workshops. Wholebeing Institute has generously purchased a booth in the exhibition hall, where alumni can meet and mingle, promote professional projects to a worldwide audience, and answer questions about the WBI Certificate in Positive Psychology program.

For those of you who are considering attending, I encourage you to follow the advice of Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” For those who cannot be there, WBI faculty will be sharing information live from the event, and posting stories on the blog about their experiences. Stay tuned!

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


Alison Deutsch is a strategic marketing consultant with a Certificate in Positive Psychology from Wholebeing Institute. She lives in Haverford, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Jesse, and their two teenage children, Hannah and Aaron.