A Ripple Story…

Agapi Markogiannakis

Agapi Markogiannakis

Consultant and Facilitator

Alumni: Melbourne 2015

In our 10653NAT Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing we always talk about the ripple effect; starting with self and creating a ripple out there in the world - whatever that may mean for each person.

In this interview, one of our Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing graduate explains how the course helped her find purpose in fostering children and supported her through a cancer scare.

What drew you to complete the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing?

I attended a Happiness and its Causes conference in 2013, where Sue Langley was speaking and Langley Group was exhibiting at the Wellness show. Hearing Sue and visiting Langley Group’s stand got me interested in the organisation and the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing (DPP).  My next step was to attend the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) Accreditation where I met Sue as the Master Trainer. Following the accreditation course, I started working with Langley Group, and after this I enrolled in the Diploma.  It all happened so quickly!

What was your experience during the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing?

It was an amazing opportunity to sit for six glorious and luxurious days to reflect on myself, learn some really robust and interesting science and apply it all in a practical way.

The Diploma has something for everyone regardless of why you are drawn to it.  Whether it’s professional or personal. That’s what I love about the course.

How are you spreading your positive ripples, and how has the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing helped you achieve this?

t really is SO difficult to choose what to share about how my learnings from the DPP and positive psychology have impacted my life.

There are so many things that I learned, both big and small, that add up to significant ripples and in some cases, tidal waves!

My mantra now is to live a life of purpose and pleasure.  I guess it’s PERMA in a nutshell (Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement). Yet if I had to choose my favourite theories, they are Ellen Langer’s theory of mindfulness, and I LOVE Paul Wong’s PURE model of meaning.  They both help me to connect to meaning and purpose.

These models are exemplified in my role as a foster carer.  In addition to my DPP learnings with regards to positive emotions, emotions coaching, positive parenting, positive relationships and strengths in caring for these little ones, I am now more aware of the significance of fostering for my own wellbeing.  I therefore make decisions that prioritise fostering, over things like my career, relaxation and sleep, because I know it satisfies me in deeper ways.

When I have spent a day up to my eyeballs in Weet-bix, runny noses, mountains of washing, and I have buckled a child into a car seat for the 500thtime – I remember how these seemingly meaningless tasks allow me to achieve my Purpose.  Additionally, when systems in child protection in Victoria break down and are frustrating, I use positive emotions to remember the PURE model and rather than get disillusioned and give up on fostering, I aim to Understand the system and remember to take Responsible action.  This motivated me to get even more involved by joining advisory groups in the Department of Human Services, and by speaking in public forums about foster care.

The PURE model in conjunction with learned optimism, strengths and self-determination theory, all supported me in getting through a potential cancer diagnosis.  I was aware of the possibility of spending the next few months experiencing more negative emotions than positive emotions which would have impacted my positivity ratio as well as my relationships and wellbeing.  I had also put fostering on hold and changed work around, so I knew I was sacrificing meaning and engagement.  Also, as I was facing a potential cancer diagnosis, I recognised that it’s easy to feel like you have no control over what is happening to you, and was aware that regaining some of that control would be important.

I leveraged my new knowledge and awareness across the following five months of x-rays, scans, tests, MRIs, biopsies and surgery. For example, I used my strength of humour to give me a sense of power and increase positive emotion.  I used learned optimism to dispute thoughts that this ‘bad event’ was pervasive and permanent.  I asked myself ‘how useful is it to worry about this now?’

I also leaned on my positive relationships with friends and colleagues to support in emotional and practical ways – which gave opportunities for them to show kindness and me to show gratitude.

In addition, I chose to focus on nutrition as a way to increase engagement and meaning and give myself a sense of competence and autonomy.  I researched the role of metabolism on health and chose to go on a ketogenic diet and a protocol of fasting.  My purpose was to improve health, burn fat, reduce inflammation, reset my microbiome, and regenerate at a cellular level.  I completed six five-day water fasts.  Doing this gave me opportunities to find a sense of accomplishment, engagement and flow through the learning and the practice.

Fasting was almost spiritual and it provided an enormous feeling of personal competence and accomplishment in a situation where I would potentially be feeling helpless and dependent on others.  In the end, I got the all-clear and recovered in record time from the surgery.  My surgeon was impressed.

I put it down to the intentional activities I participated in, which I learned throughout this fantastic course

These days, I thoroughly enjoy getting to be a part of the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing as an assistant facilitator, coach, and assessor.