Meet The Speakers


John Helliwell  

Keynote Speaker

From Happiness Research to a Happier Society: Filling the Gap

Abstract

Over the past decade, and supported in part by the World Happiness Reports, there is growing interest in learning more about what can actually be done to support happier lives. This presentation will be based on many inspiring examples from around the world of what individuals, communities and nations have been doing to enable themselves and especially others to live happier lives. Central to the best examples is a focus on the positive - shifting from a repair mode to unlocking ways to build happiness. Many of the examples are drawn from the first Global Happiness Policy Report, released in February 2018.

Biography 

John F. Helliwell has his home base in the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia. From 2006 to 2017 he was also Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and directed CIFAR’s program on ‘Social Interactions, Identity and Well-Being’. In 2017 he was appointed Distinguished Fellow of CIFAR. Recent books include Well-Being for Public Policy (OUP, with Diener, Lucas and Schimmack, 2009), International Differences in Well-Being (OUP, edited with Diener and Kahneman, 2010), and six editions, 2012-2018, of the World Happiness Report (edited with Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs). He was also author of the Policy Synthesis chapter of the first Global Happiness Policy Report, in February 2018. He was a founding member of the Board of the International Positive Psychology Association, and remains on their advisory council.


The World Happiness Report was awarded the 2014 Betterment of the Human Condition award of the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS).


John Helliwell is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Officer of the Order of Canada.



Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D.

Keynote Speaker

The “Greatest Hits” of Character Strengths: Advancing Positive Psychology Forward

Abstract

With over 6 million people taking the VIA Survey of character strengths across the globe and 10,000 people per day visiting the VIA Institute website, there is not only interest but demand by consumers and practitioners to learn more about the practice of character strengths. And, the science of character strengths is evolving so rapidly it is difficult for practitioners to keep up with the various concepts, research, and applications they have to work with. Participants will learn how to make sense of this positive tornado and garner several substantive nuggets to put into practical use.


This keynote will highlight some of the “greatest hits” in strengths psychology which will include brand new findings (2018) as well as seminal findings. Examples include the latest research on character strengths and flourishing; signature strengths; character strengths overuse, underuse, and optimal-use; character strengths appreciation in relationships; strengths and spirituality; the benefits of amplifying strengths versus remediating deficits; team roles; and character strengths work across disciplines of study. Practical implications of this research for practitioners will be emphasized.


Biography 

Dr. Ryan M. Niemiec is a leading figure in the education, research, and practice of character strengths that are found in all human beings. Ryan is author of several books including Character Strengths Interventions; Mindfulness and Character Strengths; Movies and Mental Illness; and Positive Psychology at the Movies. Ryan is education director of the VIA Institute on Character, a global, non-profit organization in Cincinnati that advances the latest science and practical applications of character strengths. He’s an award-winning psychologist and adjunct professor at Xavier University, and annual instructor at the University of Pennsylvania.


Ryan was awarded Fellow of the International Positive Psychology Association in 2017. As a frequent keynoter and workshop leader, he’s offered several-hundred presentations on positive psychology topics across the globe. As a columnist for Psychology Today, Live Happy Magazine, PsycCentral, and Thrive Global, he’s penned hundreds of articles for the general public on character strengths and positive psychology. He’s also written over 60 scholarly articles/chapters. He’s passionate about the connection between character strengths and mindfulness, spirituality, health, disability, parenting, positive movies, and savoring.


On a personal note, Ryan lives with his wife and three kids (all 6 and under) near Cincinnati, Ohio. Ryan is an avid collector of Pez dispensers, a passionate fan of The Walking Dead, and a zealot for Michigan State athletics. His highest strengths are hope, love, curiosity, honesty, fairness, and appreciation of beauty.



Tom Rath

Keynote Speaker

“Strengths, wellbeing, and your greatest contribution"

Abstract

Tom Rath, author of six international bestsellers, will share his latest research about how small choices profoundly affect our daily well-being and effectiveness at work.  Drawing on the latest research from business, psychology, and economics, Tom's talk will focus on the most practical changes we can make to create better days for ourselves and others. He will address the importance of meaningful work, the influence of relationships and interactions, and discuss how we can create the physical energy we need in order to be our best every day.

Biography 

Tom Rath is an author and researcher who studies the role of human behavior in business, health, and well-being. He has been described by business leaders and the media as one of the greatest thinkers and nonfiction writers of his generation.


Tom has written six New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers over the past decade, starting with the #1 New York Times bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket? His book StrengthsFinder 2.0 was the top-selling book of 2013 and 2014 worldwide on Amazon.com. Tom’s recent bestsellers are Strengths Based Leadership, Wellbeing, and Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes. In total, his books have sold more than 6 million copies and have made more than 300 appearances on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list.


Tom’s latest bestseller, Are You Fully Charged? The Three Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life is receiving acclaim as “Rath’s best book yet”.  Tom also hosts  Fully Charged, a feature-length documentary film which explores the key elements of energizing one’s work and life through personal stories and interviews with the world’s leading social scientists.

In addition to his work as a researcher, writer, and speaker, Tom serves as a senior scientist for and advisor to Gallup, where he previously spent thirteen years leading the organization’s work on employee engagement, strengths, leadership, and well-being. He is also a scientific advisor to Welbe, a startup focused on wearable technology.

Tom previously served as vice chairman of the VHL cancer research organization. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, where he is now a regular guest lecturer. Tom, his wife, Ashley, and their two children live in Arlington, Virginia.




Dr. Kate Hefferon, PhD

Keynote Speaker

From, Birth To Death: Living The Embodied Life

Abstract

We have all heard the adage “health body = healthy mind” and despite earlier criticism regarding the lack of body-focused research within positive psychology, the somatopsychic approach to wellbeing is becoming increasingly embraced. Drawing primarily from qualitative research conducted on a variety of populations, Hefferon will reflect upon key take home messages regarding the importance of the body on our overall wellbeing. The talk will conclude with reflections on how to harness these findings in order to potentially become more embodied in everyday life.

Biography 

Dr. Kate Hefferon (PhD) is a Chartered Research Psychologist, Reader and Head of the Posttraumatic Growth Research Unit at the University of East London. Kate has spent her career focusing on the Somatopsychic side to Flourishing, across a variety of populations and interventions. Kate has presented at conferences nationally and internationally and is the author/co-author of numerous peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and positive psychology textbooks including, ‘Positive Psychology: Theory, Research and Applications’ (2011),  ‘Positive Psychology: The Somatopsychic Side to Flourishing’ (2013), “Applied Positive Psychology: Integrated Positive Practice” (2014) and “Second-wave Positive Psychology: Embracing the Dark Side of Life” (2015).




Haesun Moon, M.Ed

Invited Speaker

Confluence: How Hope Happens in A Dialogue


Abstract

From the contested proposal of learned optimism to the pursuit of happiness at work, the search for meaning and hope in one's personal and professional realms has entered the main stage of individual and collective narratives in the past decade. Such elusive yet substantial presence of the topic of "hope" has been an object of many dedicated scholars and intrigued laymen alike, however, the research has not yet broadened enough beyond the perspectives we borrow from the field of psychology. In this session, we will review three critical evidence from sociolinguistics and communications to analyze the process of co-construction in dialogues from classrooms, clinics, and workplaces. Practitioners will gain insight into how their use of language may increase "hope" in ordinary conversations with their clients, colleagues, and even families. In addition, several specific tools and tips will be shared to prepare practitioners to become an observer of their own work. This session will include brief cases, interactive discussions, and various scenarios to assist their learning.


Objectives:

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

Differentiate the function of dialogue from problem-solving and problem-diagnosis in your day-to-day practice

Identify key elements of how language is used to increase hope in therapeutic communication

Articulate one strategy to implement to increase one’s sense of resilience and wellbeing in your professional context



Biography 

Haesun is a highly sought-after speaker with a naturally engaging personality often appearing on podium at international conferences and symposia where coaching is talked about. As the founder and Program Director of the Solution Focused Brief Coaching program at the University of Toronto, she relentlessly questions and advances coaching as research-based practice. Her studies in collaborative dialogue and transformative learning contribute to the research and practice of coaching and its pedagogical methods. She resides in Toronto with her family including a lazy but sweet dog, Cookie.



Veronika Huta, Ph.D.

Invited Speaker

Well-being changes over the lifespan: What can you expect? And do your priorities matter?




Abstract

Past research has shown a U-Bend in happiness: life satisfaction follows a curve over the adult lifespan, bottoming out in midlife. Is there some way to prevent this bottoming out? Does it matter if you prioritize enjoyment, comfort, growth, or wealth/status? And what about other forms of well-being like meaning?

We’ve completed an online cross-sectional study (N=575) on people aged 18 to 82 from Canada and the US. We assessed self-reported well-being as life satisfaction, positive affect, negative affect, subjective aliveness, and meaning. We also assessed different ways in which people envision and pursue a good life, called orientations to well-being: hedonic pleasure (enjoyment, fun, physical pleasure), hedonic comfort (relaxation, ease), eudaimonia (authenticity, meaning, excellence/ethics, growth), and extrinsic priorities (money, power, status, popularity, image).

Some orientations to well-being changed with age, especially in males, while others did not. When we included all participants, most well-being variables showed the U-Bend pattern with age. Most importantly, people who scored high on certain orientations to well-being scored consistently high on all well-being variables at all ages, showing no U-Bend at all.  

The majority of outcomes supported our predictions, but some were unexpected and intriguing. In this talk, I will share the details of our findings.



Biography 

Veronika Huta is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa. She has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from McGill University. She conducts research on eudaimonia, hedonia, elevation, and meaning, and works on developing an integrated theoretical model of the eudaimonia-hedonia distinction in the domains of well-being orientations, experiences, and functioning. She teaches courses in positive psychology and advanced statistics, and is one of the top rated instructors in her faculty. She is a co-founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, she co-organized the first cross-disciplinary conference on eudaimonia, and has recently been interviewed for a book on the world’s leading women in positive psychology research.




Itai Ivtzah

Invited Speaker

Second Wave Positive Psychology: Embracing the Dark Side of Life

Abstract

What is the first image that comes to our mind when positive psychology (PP) is mentioned? For most of us, it is the smiley emoticon. This symbol of happiness, optimism and joy reflects the way PP is commonly conceived and portrayed, both within the PP discipline and in society at large. As such, whatever is labelled as ‘negative’ is frequently rejected and considered to be outside the sphere of PP. But this could not be farther from the truth. In fact, PP investigates and researches some of the most difficult and painful human experiences. This talk explores a variety of topics that could be regarded as part of the ‘dark side’ of life, and emphasises the role they play in the positive aspect of our functioning and transformation as human beings. While doing this, cutting-edge theories, research, and practices are also introduced.


The ‘dark side’ refers to challenging experiences, thoughts, emotions and behaviours, which trigger discomfort in us. Such discomfort is frequently avoided, as it involves an engagement with fear, pain, distress or confusion. However, engaging with the challenge and discomfort has great potential for growth, healing, insight and transformation. In other words, the ‘dark side’ contains the seed for a potential positive outcome, even when the path towards this outcome is testing.


I would like students and other people who are interested in this field to feel they are allowed to include the aspects of life - which we might call ‘negative’ - in their PP experience. Moreover, it is important to stress that these aspects of life are frequently necessary for the experience of growth and flourishing to be complete. To achieve this, I describe in this talk the current state of affairs in the field of PP, with a view to dispelling the myth of its 'positivity'. People believe that PP involves only the positive, because they confuse experiences with outcomes. Indeed, the outcomes of PP theory and research are always positive in some way; however, the paths, the journey, what we experience on the way to these outcomes may be ‘negative’ and challenging. Second-wave PP recognises and acknowledges this journey, enabling the broadening of PP boundaries to embrace both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ in our experience of flourishing.



Biography 

Dr Itai Ivtzan is passionate about the combination of psychology and spirituality. It makes his heart sing. He is convinced that if we befriend both psychology and spirituality, and succeed in introducing them into our lives, we will all become super-heroes, and gain super-strengths of awareness, courage, resilience, and compassion. Isn't this an amazing prospect? Dr. Itai Ivtzan is a positive psychologist, senior lecturer, and program leader of MAPP (Masters in Applied Positive Psychology) at the University of East London (UEL). He is also an honorary senior research associate at University College London (UCL). Over the past 15 years, Dr. Ivtzan has run seminars, lectures, workshops and retreats in the UK and around the world, at various educational institutions and at private events. He is a regular keynote speaker at conferences. He published several books, as well as many journal papers and book chapters. His main areas of research are positive psychology, mindfulness, and spirituality. Dr. Ivtzan is confident that mindfulness meditation has the power to change individuals – in fact, whole societies – for the better. Accordingly, he has been investing much time in studying mindfulness academically, writing books about it, teaching it, and training mindfulness teachers. He is the author/co-author of:

- Awareness is Freedom: The Adventure of Psychology and Spirituality

- Mindfulness in Positive Psychology: The Science of Meditation and Wellbeing

- Second Wave Positive Psychology: Embracing the Dark Side of Life

- Applied Positive Psychology: Integrated Positive Practice


If you wish to get additional information about his work or contact him, please visit www.AwarenessisFreedom.com





Tim Pychyl, Ph.D.

Invited Speaker

Research That Helps Solve The Procrastination Puzzle

Abstract

The voluntary delay of an intended act despite some awareness of the negative consequences of this delay is a self-defeating choice that puzzles the procrastinator and psychologist. Why do we become our own worst enemy and how can we stop this needless delay to enable more effective goal pursuit? In this presentation, Dr. Pychyl will summarize a variety of research from over the past 20 years that helps us understand different forms of delay, the costs of procrastination, why we do it and what we might do to break what many call the procrastination habit. Although driven by research, there will be a focus on practical strategies for change.


Biography

Dr. Tim Pychyl is the Director of the Centre for Initiatives in Education and Associate Professor of Psychology at Carleton University (Ottawa). Tim has developed an international reputation for his research on procrastination. In addition to scholarly articles, Tim has co-edited two books, the most recent of which is Procrastination, Health and Well-being (2016, Elsevier). He is also author  of Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change (2013, Tarcher/ Penguin), You can learn more about his research and access his Psychology Today blog or his iProcrastinate podcast at procrastination.ca.












Bryan Smale, Ph.D










Invited Speaker





The Canadian Index of Wellbeing: From Measurement to Social Change


Abstract

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) provides unique insights into the quality of life of Canadians and the communities in which they live both overall and in eight specific domains that matter to wellbeing: our standard of living, the quality of our environment, our health, our education, the way we use our time, the vitality of our communities, our participation in the democratic process, and our leisure and culture. Two measurement strategies have been developed by the CIW to assess and track wellbeing over time: a social indicators approach that contributes to the CIW composite index at the national and provincial levels, and a subjective wellbeing approach that gathers data through a community-based survey designed around the CIW framework. Both strategies rely on a collaborative process of engagement with organisations, communities, and citizens to facilitate the transition of research into action and social change.


Biography 

Bryan Smale, Ph.D., is the Director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing housed in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo (UW), a Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies with a cross-appointment to the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at UW, and a Research Faculty Associate in the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Western Ontario after receiving a Master’s and B.A. in Leisure Studies from the University of Waterloo. He is currently a member of Statistics Canada’s Advisory Committee on Social Conditions, on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association of Leisure Studies (CALS), and Editor in Chief of Leisure/Loisir. His research focuses on the role of leisure in the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, the spatial distribution and analysis of leisure in communities, time use allocation, and social indicators research. He was elected as a Fellow to the Academy of Leisure Sciences in 2012.




John Zelenski, Ph.D

Invited Speaker 

Nature is a path to healthy people, communities, and environments

 

Abstract

I will describe how research in environmental psychology can dovetail with positive psychology in useful ways. For example, spending time in nature typically produces positive emotions. Beyond pleasures, connecting with nature also seems to facilitate the experience of autonomy, vitality, and meaning, relieve stress and fatigue, and promote physiological health. Beyond individual benefits, nature exposure is associated with generosity, sociability, helping behaviour, and cooperation. Thus, nature has potential to foster positive interpersonal relationships and stronger communities. Beyond human communities, connecting with nature may also aid environmental protection efforts. When people enjoy the benefits of nature, they form a psychological connection with it, which, in turn, increases motivation for environmental protection. In addition, overcoming environmental challenges typically involves solving social dilemmas. Nature exposure seems to push people towards pro-sociability and cooperation, thus avoiding the tragedy of the commons. In contrast to approaches that use doom and gloom messaging about the environment, connecting with nature may provide a happy path to sustainability—an approach that has all the hallmarks of positive psychology.


Biography 

John Zelenski is a Professor of Psychology and directs the Carleton University Happiness Laboratory (CUHL) in Ottawa, Canada. He studies individual differences in happiness and how these unfold as momentary thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Much of this work has focused on the trait of introversion-extraversion and how people connect with nature.


He has received nearly a million dollars in research funding, published dozens of articles in strong academic journals, and been featured in popular media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CBC. He has taught university courses on personality and positive psychology to rave reviews at Carleton, Washington University, and literally around the world with Semester at Sea, and is currently authoring a positive psychology textbook for undergraduate students.


More information: http://www.carleton.ca/~jzelensk/




Margarita Tarragona, Ph.D.

Invited Speaker 

Positive Psychology for Helping Professionals: how to bring scientific findings about wellbeing and positive psychology practices to your work

Abstract

Applying positive psychology can be much richer than suggesting positive interventions to our clients. In this presentation, I offer a conceptual framework that proposes 4 different ways in which helping professionals can integrate positive psychology in their work in therapy, coaching, counseling and other helping professions.



Biography

Margarita Tarragona is a psychologist who specializes in applying positive psychology in the helping professions and education. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Chicago, is on the board of directors of IPPA and is an Honorary Fellow of the Centre for Positive Psychology of the University of Melbourne. Margarita co-founded and teaches in Grupo Campos Elíseos, is adjunct faculty of the Wholebeing Institute and teaches in the CIPPLA program (Certificate in Positive Psychology, Latin America). Margarita incorporates scientific findings on wellbeing with collaborative and narrative ways of working with people to generate dialogue and expand their life stories. She´s the author of Positive Identities: Positive Psychology and Narrative Practices (2012).




Alejandro Adler, Ph.D.

Invited Speaker

Teaching Well-Being Enhances Academic Performance: Evidence from around the World

Abstract

Can well-being be taught at a large scale, and should it be taught in schools? Does teaching well-being improve academic performance? In Study 1, 18 secondary schools (n=8,385 students) in Bhutan were randomly assigned to a treatment group (k=11) or a control group (k=7). The treatment schools received an intervention targeting ten non-academic well-being skills. Study 2 was a replication study at a larger scale in 70 secondary schools (m = 68,762 students) in Mexico. The schools were randomly assigned to a treatment group (j = 35) or a control group (j = 35). Study 3 was the last replication study at a larger scale in 694 secondary schools (q = 694,153 students) in Peru. The schools were randomly assigned to a treatment group (h = 347) or a control group (h = 347). In all three studies, students in the intervention schools reported significantly higher well-being and they performed significantly better on standardized national exams at the end of a 15-month intervention. In Study 1, the results for both well-being and academic performance remained significant 12 months after the intervention ended. For Studies 2 and 3, time will tell if our results endure 12 months after the end of the intervention. In all three studies, perseverance, engagement, and quality of interpersonal relationships emerged as the strongest mechanisms underlying how increases in well-being improved academic performance. Our results suggest that, independent of social, economic, or cultural context, teaching well-being in schools at a large scale is both feasible and desirable.

Biography

Alejandro Adler is the Director of International Education at the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He works under the leadership of Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology. His research focuses on well-being, education, skills, and public policy. Currently, Alejandro is working with the governments of various countries, including Bhutan, Nepal, India, Mexico, Peru, the UAE, Australia, Jordan, and Colombia to infuse curricula across schools in these countries with Positive Psychology skills and to measure the impact of these interventions on youth well-being. He has published a number of articles in both scholarly and non-academic outlets, and he frequently speaks at international conferences and gatherings.


Originally from Mexico, Alejandro has a B.A. in psychology, a B.Sc. in economics, an M.A. in psychology, and a Ph.D. in psychology, all from the University of Pennsylvania. Alejandro has worked as a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy, a think tank dedicated to channeling philanthropic funds to where they can have the most social impact. He also frequently advises international organizations, including The World Bank, The United Nations, the OECD, among others. He is currently one of 60 members of the United Nation's International Well-being Expert Group – a group of leading international experts from distinct disciplines who are working with the United Nations to create a New Development Paradigm based on well-being, which went into effect in 2015 when the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expired and became the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


 
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