This article first appeared on SelfGrowth.com
Last week was amazing. I spent 4 mesmerizing days in Amsterdam. Yes, I am talking about the beauty of the city with its history and architecture, with timeless canals and cobbled ‘straats’, with wild trams that stop for no one and even wilder bikers who own the roads and the sidewalks.
But I am talking of far more. It was 4 days of utter fulfillment, of human connection, of the deep satisfaction of knowing that there are people like me in every corner of the world who share the same passion and believe in the same power of human strengths to live to their full potential and give back to the world in a meaningful way. It was 4 days of attending the European Conference on Positive Psychology with numerous keynotes, workshops, symposia and paper presentations that covered every aspect of Positive Psychology from its application in nursing homes to the intricacies of Flow and the health benefits of Love.
I am a Positive Psychology practitioner and have been using it for years not only in helping women find meaning and purpose in their lives, but also in helping adolescents harness their strengths to propel ahead smoothly through adolescence. To be immersed in free-flowing knowledge and the latest research in the field, not to mention being surrounded by close to a thousand like-minded people was honestly an experience I will relish for a long time. There is something deeply energizing about being on the same wave-length – about knowing that when you talk of gratitude as an actual antidote to frustration and regret, others don’t shake their heads in disbelief and pop the latest concoction of Big Pharma. There is something deeply reassuring in knowing that the passion in the message of a few has the potential to spread through to the many, and enable humans to live lives that make us live up to the potential of the most creative and altruistic species to have ever inhabited the planet.
The force and energy of the conference continued to pick momentum each day. And like the wave that rises, carrying everything in its path, it ended with the power of a crashing wave that left ripples of joy and satisfaction spreading and growing in its aftermath. The crash shook the entire hall – it moved each attendee and it made us move beyond our spheres to a much bigger idea about where we were all headed. It was the final keynote address by Positive Psychology’s great – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi entitled The Future of Positive Psychology.
As I sat in a trance at the end of the keynote, an urge to go up to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi arose within me. I had to go and sit next to one of the greatest of thinkers of our time. What would I say to him? How will I express the gratitude I felt? How will I convey the impact his talk had had on me?
I had no chance to think much about all this, for through the crowd, I was somehow thrust forward into the very front and before I knew it, I found myself sitting right next to my hero. His aura entranced me and I could not help but be overcome by the magnitude of the moment. My eyes filled up, my throat choked somewhat, but through it all, as if my a force greater than me, I poured forth the idea I was developing for my upcoming book. He looked at me intently and asked me gently if I would like to share it with him. You know my answer…
I desperately wished for a camera to capture the moment. And through the 20 minute walk back to my apartment, I yo-yoed between the magnitude of the meeting and the regret of having nothing to show for it to my 4 children eagerly awaiting my return. Gratitude calmed me down. Gratitude for a meeting I could’ve only dreamt of. It lives on in my heart and in my mind, in my sleep and in my waking hours. And with the privilege to have listened to his inspiring words and connected with him in a meaningful way, comes an even greater responsibility to carry forward his message so that it becomes the force that empowers us to direct the path of evolution into greater and better learning and advancement.