You know what TA stands for, PP is positive psychology – the science of wellbeing, motivation and happiness, and WPC is the Wider Publications Committee – a committee within TA focused on getting the TA “word” spread further than just the TA community. So if you have contacts in the media, know a magazine editor, or YOU can contribute a piece for publication. Please do contact one of the WPC Team.
Hi, I’m Suzanne Hazelton, and I’m a member of the Wider Publications Committee here at UKATA. The role is a voluntary one. I thought I’d write a few words on why I was delighted to commit my time to this group.
In a nutshell, I think the awareness of TA outside of the TA community is sadly lacking. Rather than bemoan this fact, I wanted to be part of the action committee spreading the word about TA. I am very enthusiastic about the world of TA and the resources and tools that the TA community have at their fingertips. Given that I’m talking to you, someone knowledgeable in TA – I want to expand the scope of this blog to touch on some aspects of Positive Psychology, the science of well-being, happiness and motivation. The reason for including this is I think the link to physis is strong – and if you haven’t really encountered positive psychology before – I hope you will take away something new.
How did you come across TA?
I first came across TA within an organisation – IBM to be specific. At the time I was employed by IBM as a trainer and leadership coach, and the OK Corral was used in several personal development training courses that I trained (for example: Assertiveness & Leadership).
I’m the type of person who want to understand a model in a bit more detail – and ideally to have integrated it into my life before training others in it. Thus I took myself off to a TA101 at The Berne, and “wham” you guessed it, I became hooked on TA. I put myself through the foundation year and two further years of psychotherapy training – before realising that the psychotherapy route was not right for me at that time.
Does that mean you’re not a supporter of psychotherapy?
Oh no, far from it! I think it’s benefited me hugely – and the area I’m really interested in “physis”, in personal development and growth. From 3 years of studies within TA, and of course the experience of my personal therapy, I reached a conclusion that TA provided great foundations. Actually, I sometimes use the following example – which I realise you may not like. It is of course over simplified.
I compare us / humans to a glass of water. I believe we are born pure, and life adds “stuff” or contaminants. Apparently pure water is pretty disgusting to taste – so these impurities can be useful, and really make us who we are. But sometimes the impurities can be too much, and negatively affect us. Think of a glass of salty water – not quite the mineral content that makes the water tasty or healthy.
There’s a risk of extending the analogy too far. There’s also bad press around sugar – but let me proceed anyway, remembering that this is just an analogy! The plain glass of water doesn’t add sweetness richness to life. In addition to TA, I also use the tools from positive psychology to add this richness.
From the excellent role that TA does of removing the salt from the water, the interventions from positive psychology does an excellent job of adding happiness. Whilst TA and positive psychology are separate bodies of research and literature, I believe they make excellent bedfellows, and not surprisingly have some similar themes.
Orientations to time / time perspectives
Talking about these similarities, when thinking about time, and our experiences of it Berne (1971) briefly mentions a concept called reachback and afterburn – which I first came across in a TA workshop. I remember this concept being very profound for me at the time. Thus I was subsequently delighted to find a book by Zimbardo and Boyd (2008), that describes different orientations to time (time perspectives). Further research shows people with a particular combination of perspectives are happier. Upon discovering this I had one of those “ah ha” moments.
In Great Days at Work (Hazelton, 2013), chapter 5 is devoted to time perspectives. Before you read more, you might be interested in Zimbardo’s on-line Time Perspective Inventory.
Zimbardo describes 5 time perspectives (actually 6 – as he explores transcendental future – or belief in life after death which I won’t describe further here). Of course we’re all familiar with talking about time in terms of past, present and future. In addition to a goal orientated future time perspective, he noted two different types of ‘present’ which includes a fatalistic approach and a more hedonistic (and perhaps is lacking in “flow” and mindfulness activities).
However I think Zimbardo makes a neat distinction between Past Negative and Past Positive – more in a moment. Research has also found that the happiest people use a balance of time perspectives which included, past positive, present and future (Boniwell et al., 2010).
From a personal perspective, I realised I had discounted ‘all’ value of past experiences (having had parental experiences that focus on past negative). The idea that there was any value from past positive was incomprehensible to me. Positive psychology gave me the tools to begin to integrate past positive into my, err lifestyle!
As a coach working with predominately business clients, I also noticed that the past positive was often missing from their lives – and yet with willingness to give the tools from positive psychology a go, the effect can be, impactful and quick. For a great and accessible summary of some of the interventions from positive psychology see The How of Happiness (Lyubomirsky, 2010).
Last summer I coached the features writer of Psychologies Magazine. One of the aspects she was interested in, was becoming happier. She enjoyed her job, had great relationships – so we set about ways of adding some more “past positive” into her life. If you’re interested in reading more, the piece was published in the November 2013 edition of Psychologies magazine – with a short introduction being available on their website.
Suzanne, you’ve talked a lot about positive psychology – but what about TA and the work of the WPC?
Over the years I’ve studied lots of stuff. Some might say I’ve been a little random in my studies, from NLP, TA, positive psychology, developmental psychology. Steve Jobs (in his Stanford Commencement Speech – available on YouTube) talks about only being able to join the ‘dots’ of his choices in hindsight. My personal mission is to enable people to thrive. I believe that the more people that individuals thrive, the more society as a whole benefits. Not everyone wants to be coached or to study some of these things to the depth that I have. So one of the things that I do is to distil some of the knowledge and present it in what I hope is an accessible way.
I’m not sure that I can present any new TA information to you, as you’re already a knowledgeable group. My hope is however that perhaps one or two of the things I’ve mentioned that are outside of TA might spark a new awareness of how you can further yourself – or enable others.
I am fully committed to TA. In Great Days at Work I share not just the OK Corral, but also Moiso’s feeling loop (1984) with a wider audience. If you’re prepared to read and write (or create a video) review of Great Days at Work to be published on this site by the end May 2014, I would be delighted to provide a free copy of Great Days at Work to the first person to contact me at the email address below.
I describe myself as a “peopleologist”. I work with people in organisations. I facilitate thriving.
BERNE, E. 1971. A layman’s guide to psychiatry and psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth, Penguin.
BONIWELL, I., OSIN, E., LINLEY, P. A. & IVANCHENKO, G. V. 2010. A question of balance: Time perspective and well-being in British and Russian samples. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 24-40.
HAZELTON, S. 2013. Great Days at Work, Kogan Page.
LYUBOMIRSKY, S. 2010. The how of happiness : a practical approach to getting the life you want, London, Piatkus.
MOISO, C. 1984. TA: The State of the Art. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.
ZIMBARDO, P. G. & BOYD, J. 2008. The time paradox : the new psychology of time, London, Rider.