Narratives that strengthen us

We believe that narrative approaches not only enriches the field of positive psychology but also helps us grow as individuals and groups. It does so by emphasizing and exploring the stories we create and tell about what works well in our lives.

Narrative practices have developed useful ways to have conversations with ourselves and with others, to explore our values, skills, commitments and dream. Narrative methods help us make sense of who we are and to bring us closer to how we prefer to be. It therefore seems apparent that together these two fields of knowledge, positive psychology and narrative practices, can help us to find ways to strengthen our preferred identities, and to explore the strongest and most resilient versions of ourselves and the most benefecial version of the groups we interact in.

Know me – know my story

Narrative identity is the story a person constructs to organize and make sense of his or her life as a whole. It includes the person’s reconstruction of the past and his or her vision or dream about the future. Narrative psychology emphasizes the importance of stories in our lives because human beings organize their life experiences as stories and we seek to find meaning in our life through the stories.

A story is series of events that are linked together through time, and these interconnected events have meaning for the person (Mor­gan, 2000). As Margarita Tarragona (2008) argues in her book “Positive Identities”, the stories we tell about our lives are not simply accounts of our experiences, they also generate experiences: how we fell, what we think, what possibilities and obstacles we see for ourselves. The same events can be storied in a variety of ways and these different ways will make a difference in how life is experienced. One of the central premises of narrative practice is that the ways in which we narrate our experiences have a big impact on how we feel and think, on how we see ourselves and our relationships, and how we relate with other people.

According to the narrative approach understanding our identity demands that we understand our life stories. As expressed by professor in psychology, Dan P. McAdams:

“If you want to know me, then you must know my story, for my story defines who I am. And if I want to know myself, to gain insight into the meaning of my own life, then I, too, must come to know my own story. I must come to see in all its particulars the narrative of the self – the personal myth – that I have tacitly, even unconsciously, composed over the course of my life. It is a story I continue to revise, and tell to myself (and sometimes to other) as I go on living.” (McAdams, 1996)

Best Practice

2013-09-05 11.08.58The Build & Share method has been applied in a broad range of organisations ranging for government institutions, manufacturing companies, energy companues, universities and NGO’s.

Through the use of LEGO® the participants build metaphorical models that visualize and make meaning of abstract concepts that can otherwise be quite difficult to comprehend. The metaphors give a more complex creation of understanding and can make something more meaningful by equating it with something else. At the same time the use of metaphors and the way participants visualize things in a Build & Share workshop makes it much easier for participants to remember.

Some of the best practices include:

Vision and aspirations

Exploring and establishing good goals are crucial to motivation and engagement. One of the most powerful Build & Share application is related to personal and shared goals.

Participants build their personal aspirations, where after they share and reflect upon these. Following this part groups very often explore future scenarios related to their aspirations and end up building a shared model of the groups vision.

A Build & Share aspiration workshop creates a sense of having “built the future” – it become more tangible, a sort of possible future prototype.

Character Strengths

The benefits of identifying, exploring and using ones character strengths is now well documented. One of the most common ways Build & Share is used today, is to embed it into a character strengths workshop.

Upon identifying ones strengths through the VIA Character Inventory or the use of our Strength Cards (other tools can also be used) participants build one or more of their signature strengths. The stories related to these strengths are shared with the group and later combined into a coherent model of ones strong identity. It is also very common to let people build a model that tells a story of a strength they see in another person. Last but not least strength combination and strength usage can be explored through the Build & Share Strength Scenario process.

Prospection, scenarios and possible futures

Prospeciton explored with Build & Share may include planning, prediction, hypothetical scenarios, teleological patterns, daydreaming, and evaluative assessment of possible future events. Using Build & Share in this setting helps shape the participants cognitive, affective, and motivational systems – individually and collectively.

A key component in a Build & Share Prospection workshop is that it facilitates the benefits from narrative approaches using prospective storytelling and metaphors. In Build & Share the stories we tell about our future contributes to the construction, reproduction, or transformation of our reality and identity.


Build & Share introduced

LEGO® Serious Play® for Positive Psychology is a group facilitation method that builds on theory, research and application within positive psychology and narrative practices. When applied in groups and organizations you are bound to get a deeper, more meaningful understanding of topics especially related to motivation, resilience and engagement.

Positive psychology, the science of well-being and flourishing helps teams, groups and whole organizations ensure more sustainable change, transition and engagement. Add to that LEGO® Serious Play® which is a facilitated meeting, communication and problem-solving process in which participants are led through a series of questions, probing deeper and deeper into the subject. Each participant builds his or her own LEGO® model in response to the facilitator’s questions using specially selected LEGO® elements. These models serve as a basis for group discussion, knowledge sharing, problem solving and decision making. The use of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY helps the facilitator, leader, teacher and many others accelerate insights and learning related to areas like positive psychology and well-being, business performance, strategizing and goal setting, team building, and last but not least agile methodologies.

LEGO® Serious Play® for Positive Psychology is a method that provides an engaging and more memorable approach to shared group understanding and self-exploration in areas related to well-being and optimal human functioning. Based on research that shows that literal hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities, LEGO® Serious Play® for Positive Psychology deepens the reflection process and supports an effective dialogue – for everyone in the group. This is done by posing reflective questions, but in stead on answering these questions in the traditional way, participants build their answer in for example LEGO® and respond by using metaphors and narratives they have created themselves.

Sharing is fundamental

It is crucial that each person’s voice is heard during this process. Everybody shares what is on their minds, and everybody is listened to. This is very important in order to achieve the purposes of the LEGO® Serious Play® for Positive Psychology process: to let everyone share their thoughts in a constructive way and to give everybody a chance to hear each others’ points of view. Sharing is fundamental to the method; on one hand sharing is done to create a common understanding of the group’s way of dealing with a situation, and on the other hand to create the best starting point for people to feel ownership for the reflections and ideas expressed. Eventually this will help them to arrive at the solutions and actions that need to be taken in order for them to enhance their well-being and group performance.

The Hands on Thinking method

The effective use of the LEGO® Serious Play® for Positive Psychology methodology rests on a thoroughly tested and researched six-step process, which builds on a learning theory which ensures that participants take ownership of their own learning.

Read more about this process here: