By: Shari Young Kuchenbecker and Meg Warren

WPPA Presenters from left to right: Giacomo Bono, Shaun Tomson, Meg Warren, Stewart Donaldson, Mashi Rahmani, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

On January 20, 2017, Claremont Graduate University (CGU) hosted the 3rd Western Positive Psychology Association (WPPA) Conference in Claremont, California.

The day began with a riveting keynote by Shaun Tomson, world champion surfer, best-selling author, and motivational speaker, who shared his personal story of facing the gravest of challenges with resilience and grit, and creating a life of purpose. Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the founding fathers of positive psychology, shared his own journey to creating the positive psychology movement and his experience watching it grow over the decades.  

The all-day conference included presentations on the latest research by scholars, applied researchers, and students. Dr. Jeanne Nakamura’s seven-person, two-session research panel on Positive Habits was an academic centerpiece of the day. Dr. Shani Robins (Stanford University) and Dr. Giacomo Bono (CSU-Dominguez Hills) presented research on building wisdom and nurturing gratitude skills among K-12 grade students respectively, emphasizing how youth can be prepared to face challenges sure to be ahead. Dr. Shelly Harrell (Pepperdine University) shared research on a new measure of multi-dimensional, multi-cultural well-being and Dr. Zita Oravecz (Penn State University) expanded PERMA insights from momentary assessments. The day was filled with additional contributions from researchers on gratitude, grit, efficacy, performance under pressure, wisdom, positive workplace change, compassionate love, well-being, appreciation, flow, and more. The closing keynote by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Addressing Major Problems in Society: The Next Generation of Positive Psychology Research, reminded us that the creation of a sustainable, productive, and flourishing future rests in the hands of forward-thinking research.

Founded in 2013, one of WPPA’s primary goals is to facilitate faculty-student research collaboration, both within and across institutions. The evening poster session highlighted some of the latest collaborative research by students and faculty. The day ended with a book signing and “greet-and-meet” with authors of some of the latest and popular positive psychology volumes, including Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Meg Warren, Mashi Rahmani, Giacomo Bono, and Shaun Tomson. Across the day and during the wine & cheese reception that followed, researchers from various universities had a chance to network.

Watch Keynote Videos

For more information about WPPA, the conference, and upcoming events, visit the WPPA website.