A Ripple Story…
The Happiness Ninja
Alumni: Brisbane 2014
In our 11069NAT 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 become The Happiness Ninja!
What drew you to complete the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing?
I completed the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing in 2015. At the time I was working as both a Business, Leadership & Management Trainer & Assessor, as well as a classroom facilitator for long-term unemployed groups. My personal life was in shambles as I was still recovering from a break up with an emotionally abusive ex-partner two years prior, which spiked a massive decline in my already unstable mental health. I was back on antidepressants having had depression and anxiety from the age of 12 years old. My stability would fluctuate up and down depending on my life’s circumstances at the time.
At the time of doing this course, I was suffering from significant social anxiety and could only socialise by drinking alcohol which uninhibited me enough to feel comfortable around people, which then made me feel depressed and negative about myself. To say the least, even just showing up to class for the course was quite challenging for me. I was motivated to join the programme though because I was studying a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences degree and had stumbled upon an elective subject called Psychology of Wellbeing. This unit sent light bulbs off in my brain and I started to look at the world differently and wondered why I had never been taught such things that seem so basic in retrospect, but so foreign to me at the time. I was very interested in learning about the practical, applied side of positive psychology, having learned a significant part of the theory already during this university unit. My plan was to learn more so that I could not only have more personal growth and development within myself, I could also see a gap in the market regarding information that unemployment services would find very enlightening and valuable to teach their clients. I felt like I could solve a massive problem in society and I planned to create my own programme targeting people who were having significant struggles in their life (mental health/unemployment).
What was your experience during the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing?
This course was responsible for changing my life. My multiple lightbulb moments came through learning various things that enabled a massive wake up call to happen! I came to learn the brain biologically focuses on negatives and that I was unconsciously repeating the learned helplessness I had been raised to have, and also that I had kept myself miserable by not allowing myself to see and appreciate the things that I did have in life and that I could learn to counteract that and change the way my brain functions. This provided me hope to get off antidepressants again because at this time I felt like I was completely broken and would need them for the rest of my life.
Looking back I now see why my mental stability fluctuated up and down over the years previously: the times when I was embracing activities that encompass PERMA principles I did well and did not need medication. The times when something traumatic happened and I stopped putting any energy into healthy intentional activities and my thoughts were overridden with negativity, I slid downhill and went back on medication again to function. It all made sense after learning what is needed to be happy scientifically and that ongoing effort it required.
How are you spreading your positive ripples, and how has the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing helped you achieve this?
Since commencing the Diploma I have maintained a gratitude journal in which I write down the three best things every day. I have completely changed the way my brain functions and overcome 12 years of suicidal thoughts, 14 years of addictive behaviours and 17 years of clinical depression. I can feel that my brain and thought patterns are totally different from what they once were. I have become The Happiness Ninja. I dress in a custom made ninja costume and I do random acts of kindness on the streets and at events. This includes handing out free goodies, giving out free hugs and doing motivational and inspirational talks and workshops. I have done this in multiple states in Australia and in four other countries around the world so far. I have also created several programmes aimed at my target market of interest, as I intended.
My biggest achievements to date include speaking at an international positive psychology summit in Canada; being a finalist for St George Banking Group Business Grant Competition and pitching my business idea at TEDx Sydney in the Opera House, and being a finalist for The Moreton Bay Innovation Awards in two categories.