Psychology Week 2016 – Ways to Thrive

Psychology Week is an annual initiative established by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) aimed at increasing awareness of how psychology can help people and communities lead healthier, happier and more meaningful lives.

This year, the theme is Ways to Thrive and the APS has introduced the Compass for Life campaign to promote this.

Ways to Thrive focuses on ways we can live happy, fulfilling lives despite the daily challenges of life. The positive psychology field provides a valuable foundation backed by research which identifies five “pillars” that underpin flourishing in life. Professor Martin Seligman, co-founder of the discipline of positive psychology, has spent many years researching the concept of happiness and developed the PERMA model as a way to think about the five pillars:

P – Positive Emotion: Cultivating positive emotions means that you still acknowledge what is not working, but you do not dwell on that for too long. Focus on the future with hope; think about and do the things that are healthy for you and make you feel good such as spending time with family and friends, exercising, learning a new skill, engaging in a hobby.

E – Engagement: We thrive when we are engaged in life, when we keep moving, putting one foot in front of the other. We can all learn and enhance skills to do this so that we become better at enjoying and focusing on the present moment. Mindfulness is a valuable skill to help us reach this potential.

R – Relationships: Being connected to others enhances our own wellbeing, because as humans, we are naturally social beings. Not only does sharing our burdens help us, so too does sharing our happiness. We must make an effort to build connections with people who are good for us; where give and take is a shared value.

M – Meaning: Believing that what we do in life is worthwhile enhances our wellbeing and confidence. We are at our best when we live and work towards our values. Consider what you value most in this world – could it be family, friends, learning, work, faith? What steps can you take to act in a way that relates to your values and goals in these life domains?

A – Accomplishment: Failing and learning from our mistakes is important but so is feeling a sense of achievement and occasionally “winning” at something. Set yourself small goals as a starting point, achieve them and use those small accomplishments as stepping stones towards larger goals. Positive psychology encourages you to identify and cultivate your strengths to help you achieve your goals and build resilience.

You do not have to have mental health issues in order to take stock of your life and work out what is important to you. We can all take small proactive steps to find ways to thrive and flourish but you don’t have to do this alone. Counselling can provide the opportunity to identify your strengths and learn the skills you need towards living a more fulfilling life. CatholicCare Social Services has a team of psychologists and counsellors who work from a strengths-based focus and will work with you to achieve your life goals. To find out more or to book an appointment contact our staff at our regional intake offices:

  • Newcastle/Hunter/Lake Macquarie region: 02 4979 1172
  • Manning region: 02 6539 5900.

To learn more about Ways to Thrive and Psychology Week 2016, visit I encourage you to take the online survey at this website. Based on your responses, you are provided with your individual PERMA scores with some feedback provided on how you can live a more fulfilling life.

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Tanya Russell Image
Tanya Russell

Tanya Russell is CatholicCare's Assistant Director and a registered psychologist.

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