Last week I had the chance to meet Dr Martin Seligman, founding father of Positive Psychology, the discipline that changed my life!
Monday, February 4, 2019, on the train to Paris to spend the day at the Festival of Positive Energies. A galvanizing day that made me quickly forget the 3 hours of train, the twenty minute queue at the wagon bar and the RER D being blocked. But the one I’m waiting for is Martin Seligman. He is, as Paul Bocuse is to gastronomy, André Breton is to surrealism, Peter Drucker is to management: a pope, a creator, a pioneer, an avant-garde. This is his first conference in France for over 30 years. A chance and above all an honor to see and listen to the one who allowed me two years ago to get out of my chrysalis & become the one I wanted to be.
Let’s rewind a little bit: two years ago, as a freshly graduated student with a Master’s degree in International Law, specializing in the law of armed conflict, among the prominent graduates, having written a dissertation on rape as a weapon of war, here I am interning in one of the most prestigious institutions in the field: the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands. At the announcement of the acceptance of my application for the internship, in my head this is only one round: my future is mapped out, it’s in the bag! … And yet, only two months after the beginning of my internship, my letter of “resignation” has already been written. This work is meaningless for me, without pleasure, without motivation. I still decided to persevere a little, trying to busy myself with other activities. That’s when I found on an online training platform, a course from Berkeley University: “The Science of Happiness”. I did not think twice and I registered.
During this MOOC and through my research I discover this great man who is Martin Seligman, accompanied by a lot of other positive inspirers: Tal Ben Sahar, Shawn Achor, Sonja Liubomirsky, Barbara Fredrickson, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, … I then learn that there is a science, Positive Psychology, which studies what makes people happy, optimistic, resilient, healthy, and so on. It’s about celebrating the full. To identify and cultivate the best in ourselves, in our relationships and in our life. You will say: that is all well and good, but how to be happy when life is not lenient with us? Well, here is the key: happiness is neither effortless nor permanent, it is based on the capacity to cultivate your inner being, your individuality, your potentialities, that even and especially when you are going through difficult times.
This course has opened my eyes to a fundamental thing which is that happiness does not fall from the sky, it has to be learned and cultivated. Happiness is not a tick box activity as in a to-do list: the couple, the family, the success, the money. Positive Psychology has highlighted the choice we all have in life: to act to be happy regardless of the obstacles we face.
« Optimism is not an attitude: it’s an action, a choice,
an everyday fight, infinitely strong, and salutary »
– Malene Rydahl –
When we talk about health, we often only talk about risk factors against cancer, diseases, heart attacks. Yet there are protective factors. After numerous laboratory tests, we were able to show that obesity, cholesterol and blood pressure are much less risk factors for the probability of heart attack in individuals than pessimism. Studies show that being a hardened pessimist is like smoking two to three packs of cigarettes a day. Thus, optimism is a highly protective factor for cardiovascular disease, and the joy is one for infectious diseases. Being happy is – and studies prove it! – gaining 7 years of longevity, having a stronger immune system, being more creative, staying married longer, being more fertile, staying employed in the long term, having better relationships, being more resilient, and so one so forth …
I came back from the Netherlands aware that I was living a pivotal moment. My mother, also a coach and consultant, accompanied me in my reflections reminding me that already high schooler I was admiring her job. If Law had imposed itself as a choice of reason, it was with the heart that I accepted her proposal to join Elveor for a “live my life” of a month. It’s been almost a year and a half since I’ve been working at Elveor, and I live my life: Interpersonal Communication Trainer, Scribbing, Group Facilitator, Springboard Development Trainer for Women, and over everything, trainer in Positive Psychology! 
As a child, my favorite hobby was sulking, teenager grumbling. Yes, Positive Psychology has changed my life in that it makes me love my favorite adult hobby.
Camille Lamouille, 23 Avenue Doyen Louis Weil, 38000 Grenoble firstname.lastname@example.org