What Led Me to Positive Psychology

Sue Langley reveals the journey that propelled her into the realm of positive psychology, ultimately guiding her to not only study it but also share her knowledge by teaching others.

Teaching people about emotions

Nick: So I'll just touch on a little bit more about you. So you are the Academic Director of the Langley group. And you offer the world's first government accredited qualification in positive psychology and well-being. And this is how we connected. I'm one of your students.

And as I just mentioned, I was part of this wonderful cohort, and we spent six days together. I think it was life changing for all of us. So yeah, it was such a wonderful experience. So you must really love your work.

Sue: I do love my work. I'm very lucky, I get to meet amazing people like yourself from all walks of life, who really are just wanting to be the best they can be and learn about [positive psychology] and emotions and neuroscience. So I love what I do, and it plays to my strengths. So I'm very lucky.

Nick: Certainly does. I witnessed your strengths and flow. I actually did some homework over the weekend, and I wrote and read a gratitude letter to a very dear friend. So that was quite an experience.

Sue: I’m looking forward to hearing all about that.

Nick: Well, let's begin with your interest in positive psychology, when did that began and what attracted you to study it and then obviously go on to teach it to others?

Sue: It's interesting. Like many people, I found myself in a job that I enjoyed, and I was good at. And so I was asked or invited to be the manager, if you like, of that team. And I'm sure, many people like me, you're a good individual contributor, and then someone says, put you in a leadership role, and you have no idea what you're doing.

Because I'd been good at what I did. And I wasn't necessarily good at being a leader, and I had no training. So I took it upon myself to try and learn lots of things about psychology, the human behavior, those sorts of things, just from a general perspective. And I was lucky enough to sort of learn a few things about emotions, etc., from my my reading, and I hopefully became a better leader because of it.

But what I actually did is within my organization, we were told we were front facing, so customer facing. And each of us were told in our offices, we could close for half a day a month for training for our team. And I was the only one of nine offices that did that as a leader. So I literally closed the office one day a month. And I would teach people what I'd learned.

So I teach them about self-confidence, and I teach them about self-awareness and self-efficacy and a whole bunch of things. Before I knew it was sort of an area of study. And what I noticed, interestingly, is our profits doubled two years in a row. And I was really impressed with my team, because I never taught them customer service, I never taught them sales, I just taught them about how to be the better version of them.

And so when I then wanted to learn a little bit more, and I moved to Australia, and I wanted to start my own business, I thought I really want to teach people about emotions. So by that stage, I was learning about the science of emotions, from anything I could get my hands on.

I did a psychology degree, and I learned a little bit about [positive psychology]. And I actually wanted to do a master's in positive psychology. But at the time, I'd only just started my own business, it would have cost me over $100,000 to fly back and forth to the states.

So I downloaded the reading list, and I read everything. And I sort of started really that way. And then I did my Master's in neuroscience of leadership a couple of years later. So for me, I've always wanted to put those sort of three things together: the science of emotions, the science of the brain and the nervous system and neurology etc. And then really looking at positive psychology and well-being and how do we get the best out of each other and out of ourselves.

And putting those three together really worked for me from a business perspective. And I think it works for our clients because if you put the neuroscience behind it, people get it. If you touch on the science of emotions, and really what the science tells us, it helps people understand them a lot better than just the sort of superficial that we sometimes sort of floats around.

So, yeah, that was sort of my journey. And I keep learning all day every day and read research papers, and I'm a bit of very geeky when it comes to reading.