Welcome Delvina Miremadi-Baldino,
you are the latest professional to join our team of developers of new positive psychology tools for the toolkit. What was your most important reason for joining?
I am a professional working in the field of Positive Psychology, but more importantly, I am a person with a passion to help people live more authentic, purposeful, and thriving lives. This is what drives my decision-making process when I consider how I want to spend my time.
I’m raising two toddlers, I recently started a consulting business, and I also have a full-time job, but when I learned of the opportunity to possibly get involved in the Positive Psychology Program, developing positive psychology tools for practical use, I jumped at the chance. There is no better way to pursue my passion than to develop practical, evidence-based tools that practitioners and individuals can easily apply to their daily practice and lives.
What is your connection with Positive Psychology?
Much like the evolution of how Positive Psychology came to be a field of study, my personal and professional connection to Positive Psychology blossomed out of a realization that there was too much focus on what was wrong and not enough focus on, and understanding of what is right.
Professionally, this unfolded for me with a switch from a Clinical Psychology track to a more dynamic and multi-dimensional track in Human Development, Education, and eventually, Positive Psychology. My interests grew from understanding and treating mental illness to prevention for mental illness to finally understanding the science behind how humans flourish. I love taking these research-based positive psychology concepts and transforming them into engaging, easily digestible tools and skills that can help propel individuals toward happiness and success! When I finally found the study and practice of Positive Psychology, it felt like I was home.
Personally, my life story also follows a similar path. Growing up, I struggled with a mindset and inner self-critic that made navigating life’s inevitable challenges very difficult. Over the years, those belief systems and thought patterns took their toll on me, leaving me feeling anxious, depressed, and hopeless. As I embarked on a path toward change, my focus grew away from focusing on what was wrong and towards positive coping and skill building. Learning and applying Positive Psychology skills helped me change my thoughts and beliefs systems in such a way that my corresponding feelings and behaviors led to the beautiful, flourishing life I lead today.
For over a decade, you have been involved in the development of resilience education. Can you tell us a bit more about your work?
As I mentioned before, in all the work I do, my main mission is always to help translate research-based positive psychology concepts and transform them into engaging, easily digestible tools and skills. I want everyone to have the opportunity to learn and grow from the power of resilience and core positive psychology concepts like growth mindset, optimistic thinking styles, positive self-talk, flow, motivation etc. Over the past 10 years, I have worked for Children’s Hospital Boston, developing innovative prevention tools, as well as Life Advantages LLC, where I developed a resilience toolkit for College and Universities, A Resilience Success Assessment to help quantify the concept of resilience, and am currently developing a self-paced e-learning resilience course.
I recently founded Realize Your Resilience LLC, a company that provides one-on-one coaching and resilience education through workshops, webinars, and speaking engagements. The Realize Your Resilience programs and services help foster resilience through a holistic approach to overcoming life’s challenges by building on individuals’ strengths. I recognize that everyone can live a happier, healthier life when provided with the proper information and guidance to realize their resilience. The Realize Your Resilience model provides the building blocks of life that help you to GROW to be your best self, SUCCEED in achieving all of your goals, and THRIVE in all aspects of your life.
What are your most important insights as a result of your extensive experience in the field of resilience?
First and foremost, the path to fostering resilience is unique to each person. We all have within us a unique capacity for resilience, and therefore, we each must embark on our own unique path to living a happy, thriving life. It’s not about some external resource with all the answers. Positive psychology and resilience are not prescriptive. Their teachings and concepts provide the roadmap for uncovering the best version of yourself, but you are ultimately in the driver seat.
Second, as Dr. Martin Seligman’s work supports, our thoughts and beliefs are what dictate our life. It’s not about what happens to us that determines how we feel or behave, but it’s how we think about what happens to us that then establishes our emotional and behavioral reactions. When we realize that, while we can’t control the external events of the world or people around us, but we can control how our story places out in the face of those events, our trajectory through life changes for the better and sets us on a path toward flourishing.
Last, we CAN change our brains and, therefore, we can change our level of happiness and achievement. All too often, we walk through life thinking we are who we are and we can’t change. We think that our character, abilities, and intelligence are inherent and locked in place. Based on the work of Dr. Carol Dweck, this fixed mindset creates a life journey full of untapped potential and less overall achievement. But, once we understand that our brains are in fact malleable, and they are learning to grow smarter with each challenge and exerted effort (growth mindset), then our life journey becomes one of embracing challenges, learning from our failures and mistakes, and maximizing our potential. We learn to reach for ever-higher levels of performance.
Increasing the resilience of clients is perhaps one of the most important objectives for most Positive Psychology practitioners. What advice would you give to practitioners who aim to develop the client’s level of resilience?
So much of being resilient comes from how we perceive and process stress and negative events we experience in life. Oftentimes, our inner self-critic and negative belief systems are the things that truly get in the way of our capacity to be resilient during personal hardships. At the same time, we are often caught up in our own negativity bias, which creates a tunnel vision and a nasty cycle of more negativity. As Positive Psychology Practitioners, it’s important that we hold both of these processes in our minds when trying to develop our clients’ level of resilience.
We want to try and help our clients identify and replace their negative thoughts and beliefs so that they can get out of their own way and begin to process and experience the world through a more positive lens. At the same time, we want to also simultaneously provide concrete, evidence-based positive psychology practices, like mindfulness, gratitude, and flow, that help block the negativity bias and unlock positivity through positive emotions. According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, this broadens and builds our minds to think in new, more flexible, and more creative ways.
Can you tell us a bit more about the first tool “Promoting Altruism to Enhance Purpose” you created for the Toolkit?
Feeling a sense of purpose in life is a critical component to fostering resilience. We often think of purpose as this external element of life that we need to seek out. This tool proposes that a helpful way to live a purposeful life is to look internally at your own gifts and attributes and then find ways to use those to do good and make a difference in the world. Practitioners can use this tool to connect their clients’ gifts, talents, passions, and values to altruistic actions or behaviors. This helps clients to use their own ideas to create actionable goals that will give back to others and make valuable contributions to the world.
What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
I am not someone who has ever been accused of thinking small. The downside of this is I am never quite satisfied with where I am and I’m always striving for more. The upside is I am never complacent and am always accomplishing more. As I move into and through the next 5 years, I hope to grow Realize Your Resilience in a way that increases my reach and allows more people to benefit from the teachings of positive psychology and resilience-building skills.
In the near future, my hope is to develop more innovative and engaging tools and courses and to write a book to simplify the research and provide real-life solutions to help individuals foster their resilience in their everyday lives. Further down the road, I would love to expand my use of technology and develop a resilience-building app. That said because my professional ambitions for the future are focused on other peoples wellbeing, I try to remain flexible and open in my career planning with the ultimate goal of helping as many people as possible develop their unique capacity for resilience.