Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Director of the Social Psychology Doctoral Program and the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory, President-Elect, International Positive Psychology Association Kenan-Flagler School of Business
I'm delighted to have the chance to introduce you to Kelly Stack this week,
a certified holistic health coach and
author of the forthcoming book, Flourishing With Chronic Illness.
Now this week you've learned about the health benefits of
positivity resonance and have had the chance to try
out loving kindness meditation as part of your experiential homework.
Now Kelly puts these ideas of positive psychology into practice, both in
her own life and as she helps others find their unique road map to health.
Now, Kelly, can you tell us how you first got interested in positive psychology and
making it part of your life's work?
>> Well, I was majoring in psychology in college, and
[COUGH] they introduced for the first time this positive psychology course.
And before that I had just been taking the regular things like
abnormal psychology and learning about what was wrong with people [COUGH].
And this just sounded like such a different approach, and so
I signed up for the course [COUGH].
And as it happened, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis
right before that semester started, that was going to be my senior year in school.
And it, of course, caught me completely off guard.
It's a very serious illness, potentially debilitating, and
I didn't know anything about it.
But I decided to go ahead and finish out the year.
It was my senior year in school, and started this course.
And it was really just perfect timing, and
it really started shifting things for me right away, just seeing
that we all have the potential to bring more positivity into our lives.
I had thought of myself in a certain way for so long.
I, I kind of just felt like that's the way I was.
I wasn't necessarily a great student, and I wasn't really that healthy of a person.
And just seeing that we can all do these things.
We all have the same potential to tap into to improve our lives in so many ways.
It was really exciting to me.
And so I started applying these things in my own life,
and was also getting into meditation at the same time.
And I've just really seen this upward spiral that
you write about so that not only has it impacted my
the pleasure that I feel in my life, my sense of self and
it definitely seems to have had an impact on my health,
and the prognosis of my condition.
It's been really amazing.
And now I'm just so excited to be able to share it with other people.
I've found so much along the way, and it's, it's all just really exciting.
>> That's great.
If a new client came to you, Kelly, interested in lifestyle change,
what would you tell him or her about what you could offer as a health coach?
>> Well the first thing is to really establish a connection with the person.
People generally aren't used to having someone who's just
totally invested in helping them to reach their goals,
who really wants to listen and support them in a totally loving way.
And so it's providing this space where people can feel loved and
accepted just as they are.
And then they feel safe to explore whatever it
is they want to achieve with their health and in their lives.
And a lot of it is also bringing in this pleasurable approach,
that getting healthy doesn't have to mean being restrictive or
forcing anything, that we can actually find what's going to work best for
that individual to do things that they'll really enjoy
to get healthier and just more satisfied with their lives in general.
>> This is a nice segue, because I was about to ask you, how does positive
psychology factor into your coaching, and how do you see people responding to that?
>> Wow, yeah, there's a lot.
There's so many ways that positive psychology can be applied.
[COUGH] one of the biggest things is just this positive approach,
is looking at how it a lot of times people think of getting healthy
as a restrictive kind of not fun thing to do,
and seeing that it can actually be a way of,
it's something that you can do and really feel good doing it.
You can really enjoy the process.
And so a lot of it is bringing in pleasure,
looking at where people have pleasure in their lives, and
guiding them to be more present with the pleasures that are already there,
as well as helping them to bring in more pleasure, more positive emotion, so
there can be practices like the loving-kindness meditation.
I find that meditation, in general, is really powerful for
helping people just to be more present and
mindful of the good that's in their lives and to help them bring more, and
also focusing on people's strengths, helping them to connect in with that.
Looking at relationships and their lives and really looking at what's healthy,
what's not and creating authentic loving relationships, and that has a huge impact.
And the way I see people respond is just awesome.
People get really excited just
seeing these possibilities maybe for the first time.
They, they get this expanded awareness of their potential that just before they
wouldn't have even conceived of, and it's just, it's really amazing.
They light up, and are able to just move forward
towards goals and things that they might not have thought were possible before.
>> Oh, that's great, yeah.
So what's next for you, Kelly?
How else do you think that we could leverage the, the, you know, the science
of positive psychology to help people flourish, even during difficult times?
>> Well again, there's just so much potential there.
>> Mm-hm. >> It's really exciting.
For me, I personally am working on this book right now which will be out soon,
Flourishing With Chronic Illness, and it's a mind, body,
spirit approach to living your best life with any diagnosis.
And so the idea is that there's so
much that people can do to enrich their lives even in the face of illness.
There's this idea of positive health that
health and wellness, it's not the just the absence of disease, it's a higher state.
It's above and beyond that, and so you can really thrive in your life.
And even when there's a disease present, there's so many things you can do to
have a rich and amazing experience even in the face of all of that,
and there's just, there's so much potential there.
It's so exciting, and
really we've seen that it can have a direct impact on people's health.
So not only can it be beneficial to people even when a disease is progressing,
it can potentially affect the progression, or halt progression of an illness.
And I think we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg now, and
I'm really excited to see what we find going forward.
>> Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your story and your work with us.
And I hope that you've come away with a richer sense of the,
how positive psychology can be useful even in difficult times.
It's not just for when times are good, so thank you.