Central to the use of LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychology is the use of narratives and metaphors that makes it easy for participants to share complex insights. The shared narratives enable collaborative learning and constructive discussions that again fuel creative thinking, ideation and motivation to change.
Through the creation of models, metaphors and narratives, we can explore strengths and other positive qualities, and employ LEGO® to implement positive psychology interventions for positive storytelling in the wide sense of this word. When doing this, we may expect a positive impact on the following outcome variables:
Intrinsic motivation. Ryan and Deci (2000) posit two fundamental types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. An intrinsically motivated person is moved to act for the fun or challenge involved in the task rather than for external urges, pressures, or possible rewards. Using components of plat is frequently associated with fun, thus potentially tapping into one’s intrinsic motivation.
Confidence. When there is an undeniable danger of low confidence and negative mindset. LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® for Positive Psychology can be used to identify and talk through existing evidence of previous achievements, which is the most important means of developing confidence.
Creativity. Based on our previous experience of techniques such as visual brainstorming, image brain mapping and visualisation, we are confident in stating that the use of LEGO® facilitates and dramatically improves creativity and problem solving. Constructing novel shared stories around the same situation is another possible means of creativity enhancement.
Strengths use. Models and metaphors, when helping the construction of positive stories, can be used to illustrate and contextualise our strengths. A person who is able to identify and put their strengths into daily use will build a strong, healthy relationship with him/herself and others. Strengths rhetoric also legitimates a more positive approach to relationships development.
Teamwork. When used in groups, LEGO® SERIOUS® PLAY® is a helpful intervention for team building. Inviting others to take a part in the creation of a new perspective or finding a solution together, generates a spirit of sharing and belonging, developing interpersonal and group skills.
Metaperspective acknowledges that everything has a positive and negative side. It allows us to see both the benefits and downsides of strengths and competences. Metaperspective is a mature approach to personal development, resulting in: balance, acceptance, tolerance and development of the whole person. Creating stories through visual means, may enable us to adopt a more holistic approach to the situation and put it in perspective.
When looking at the latest research in the field of organizational and human development quite astounding results can be found in relation to why a different approach, a strength-based approach, might be the best way to ensure a competitive advantage. Research also suggests why a strength-based approach means going from traditional ideas of well-being at work to an approach which calls more for the understanding of engagement and passion.
In other words the strength-based approach is not just a feel-good approach to ensuring workplace happiness but rather a leadership approach that ensures authentic well being as well as business performance.
To be clear; a strength is not necessarily something we are good at, a strength is that which strengthens us, makes us more resilient and engaged in what we do. In other words a strength in our character is a pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking or feeling that enables optimal functioning, total engagement and top performance all while leaving us feeling more authentic and passionately energized.
Everyone has strengths but far from everyone is clear about what their strengths are and how to use them in a way that makes sense to themselves and their surroundings. In fact research suggests that only one third of us are able to consciously describe what our strengths are.
Research is clear
It is found that people with a higher usage of their strengths report higher subjective well-being and fulfilment in life.
People who use their strengths in a new and different way every day also report higher levels of subjective well-being as well as lower levels of depression and that effects last over time.
Using strengths more also results in higher levels of self-efficacy, self-esteem, positive energy and vitality. Furthermore it is shown that when people align their strengths with goals they are much more likely to achieve their goals. And when achieved they tended to be happier and more fulfilled with the result.
Strengths and the brain
Organizational agility is in today’s business world one of the most crucial cultural aspects a successful manager needs to ensure, however it is highly doubtful if a primary focus on weaknesses and deficits is the best route to agility. In fact research suggests that people who leverage their strengths rather than fix their weaknesses to reach their goals reach them faster and with more joy and meaning.
The evidence for strength based goal achievement in real world organizational studies are compelling. A recent study originating from neuroscience further supports the idea. At Case Western Reserve University’s Wheatherhead School of Management researchers recently did an interesting discovery on two groups of students receiving two different types of feedback. The group who received the more strength-based feedback showed a much stronger activation of the visual cortex, which is the area used to envision the future and engage with others in order to identify the best way to progress. The other group saw practically no activation in the visual cortex but in stead much higher activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which made them become more defensive. Watch this video for more on this fascinating study
Build & Share stories of strengths
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.
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)