A Ripple Story…

Hester Nijland and her Kids

Hester Nijland

Teacher, Department of Education WA

Alumni: Perth 2017

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 shares her completely life-changing experience of the course, and how it set her up to implement positive change in her school!

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

I was introduced to Mindfulness and some Positive Psychology (PP) principles six years ago by a psychologist who helped me overcome a “dip’ in my personal life. Since then, I have been inspired by the PP research and information available in books and on the internet. The application of PP principles into my personal life has motivated me to want to teach Positive Education at the High School I work in.

At school, I sadly noticed that the list of students with anxiety and depression increased yearly. I felt desperate to include strategies for wellbeing into my teachings. Unfortunately, my passion, as well as self-acquired knowledge was not enough to convince my colleagues and school administration to include a Pos Ed program into the school’s curriculum.

I had been keen to enrol in the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing since it caught my interest in the Positive Schools Conference in Perth a few years ago. As soon as it was announced that the course was going to come to Perth, I signed up. Apart from gaining further knowledge and understanding of the Science of Wellbeing, I also felt that the Diploma would provide me with the accreditation needed to initiate and follow through some positive changes at school.

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

My experience of the six face to face course days was fantastic. The facilitator, Denise was full of energy and enthusiasm and provided relevant and in-depth knowledge and information. The course content and activities were truly abundant and at no point tedious.

I also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my course colleagues and sharing experiences and new learning in this shared area of interest. I loved the “arm prosthesis activity,” that gave me a surprising emotional understanding of the importance of finding a purpose in completing tasks.

The random act of kindness pursuit was another memorable experience that has since encouraged me to search out opportunities to give, help and pay it forward.

The completion of the course modules is a bit of a struggle for me. The fact that there are no set deadlines allows for procrastination, which I am very good at. The actual set tasks are again very relevant, enjoyable and there is plenty of support available.  I am learning and developing myself each time I work through a module.

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

The course has a positive effect on my personal life. I have introduced a gratitude round during dinner times and my family members receive regular “Pos Ed lessons.”

My close friends have also given me feedback that I provide them with helpful advice when struggling. The biggest positive ripple has possibly come from starting up a staff Health and Wellbeing Committee at school.

As chair of the Committee, I strive to improve workplace wellbeing through the creation of a Health & Wellbeing bulletin (three in each school term). The bulletin includes tips on how to look after your physical and mental health, as well as staff acknowledgements. I have included links to Ted Talks from Martin Seligman, Barbara Fredrickson, Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth, as well as raised awareness of the basic principles of Positive Psychology (PERMA).

The school’s staff toilets have reminders relating to “gratitude” and “what went well today” and we concluded during Professional Learning Days and staff meetings my colleagues have experienced a variety of short meditations and team building activities facilitated by myself and my Health & Wellbeing Committee members.