College – Issue 40

CENTRE FOR ETHICS & SPIRITUALITY Making right connections

How do healthy Christian spirituality, the science of positive psychology and Hauora connect? It all became clear at the Centre for Ethics & Spirituality evening on Thursday 18 March when Chaplain Bosco Peters, Directors of Wellbeing & Positive Education, John Quinn and Dr Sarah Anticich, and teacher Steve Everingham took part in a Fullness of Life discussion. Christianity had a very clear framework of disciplines for wellbeing, said Bosco. “Having a sense of purpose in life makes a big difference to wellbeing and a good Christian framework is a clear guide for those seeking it.” Bosco spoke about Jesus having a strong focus on flourishing now, not simply about life after death. This was demonstrated in Jesus’ own life, “through his attractive, attracting personality, sense of fun, and use of memorable humour to

convey his message,” he said.

grew frustrated with psychology’s overly narrow focus on the negative – mental illness, abnormal psychology, trauma, suffering and pain – with relatively little attention dedicated to happiness,

John Quinn said while positive psychology was a term bandied around a lot, the most commonly accepted definition was “a scientific study of what makes life most worth living” (Peterson, 2008). Positive psychology focused on the positive events and influences in life including: • Positive experiences (happiness, joy, inspiration, love) • Positive states and traits (gratitude, resilience, compassion) • Positive institutions (applying positive principles within organisations and institutions) As a field, positive psychology looks at topics such as character strengths, optimism, life satisfaction, happiness, wellbeing, gratitude, compassion, self- compassion, self-esteem and self- confidence, hope and elevation. John spoke of Martin Seligman, a researcher with a broad range of experience in psychology, who

wellbeing, exceptionalism, strengths and flourishing.

When elected president of the American Psychological Association in 1998, Seligman jumped at the chance to alter the direction of the field to a new subfield of psychology with a focus on what is life-giving rather than life-depleting. Since 2000, Seligman’s call for a greater emphasis on the positive in life has been answered by thousands of researchers around the world, provoking tens of thousands of studies on positive phenomena and establishing a base for the application of positive principles to coaching, teaching, relationships, the workplace and every other life domain. Steve Everingham presented the Hauora Ma¯ ori model to the group, with its four aspects explained through a wharenui metaphor for the po¯ or walls of the building. Each of these cover a different aspect of wellbeing, with Taha Wairua (spiritual wellbeing), and Taha Wha¯ nau (family and relationships), as well as Taha Tinana (physical wellbeing) and Taha Hinengaro (mental wellbeing). He said the model was a multi- tiered approach to health in the community.

College Issue 40 2021


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