Those of us who work with college students are all committed to the goal of fostering students success. However, more often than not, we are taking an indirect approach to student success rather than a direct approach. Martin Seligman points out in Flourish that most educational approaches are indirect in that they try to limit or minimize the things that inhibit student success (depression, anxiety, lack of resources, social isolation, alcohol and drug use, stress, etc.). A more direct approach to students success would be to devote energies to fostering student success (learning, resilience, relationships, community, openness to diversity, etc.). Even if we are successful minimizing the obstacles to student success that does make them successful, it simply creates a neutral state.
The research shows that a positive psychology or well-being approach can increase creativity, decision making, innovation, accuracy, retention, resilience, openness, community, and learning and decreases depression anxiety, and conduct violations (Achor, 2010; Fredrickson, 2012; Seligman, 2011).
Key Strategies to Foster Success
After looking at some of this research there are a few key strategies that empirical studies show dramatically increase well-being and lead to the outcomes described above.
1. Strengths – Find out what your strengths are and use them more often.
2. Gratitude – Keep a gratitude journal or write down 3 happy moments each day along with explanations of what went well (WWW).
3. Meditate – There is an avalanche of research on how mediation makes you smarter, happier, and healthier.
4. Kindness – Buy coffee for the person behind you at the drive through or tip 50-100% from time to time or regularly.
5. Relationships & Community – Social support makes the good better and the bad less bad.