At the opening session of APA's 2004 Annual Convention in Honolulu, July 28-Aug. 1, psychologist and researcher Paul Pearsall, PhD, will treat convention-goers to a nontraditional form of convention lecture: an "aha mele," or edu-concert, that incorporates the use of chant, music and ancient and modern hula to illustrate his research on success and resilience and a discussion of Hawaiian culture.
Pearsall, who heads Ho`ala Hou, an international institute in Honolulu for the study and application of ancient Hawaiian principles to modern life, will explain how Hawaiian culture and philosophy--which emphasize strengths and resilience, among other things--are similar to psychology's recent focus on people's strengths.
"I want to show members the similarities between where they are visiting and where their science is heading," says Pearsall. "Hawaiian psychology has very much prophesized some of the trends and approaches of modern psychology. As Mark Twain once said, 'The ancients stole our best ideas.'"
Illustration through movement
Hula dancers will perform throughout Pearsall's lecture while he describes how their movements illustrate his comparison of Hawaiian culture to modern psychology. The dancers will also perform while Pearsall relates research findings from his 20-year clinical study of the physical and mental health of 100 individuals who are some of the world's most successful people in business, academe and other fields.
His research revealed that a large percentage of successful people have what he calls "toxic success"--they crave more money, status, responsibility and admiration but don't have the time or energy to appreciate what they already have. Pearsall posits that successful people can overcome toxic success--which he says causes physical and mental health problems--by focusing more on what they are doing rather than thinking about the next step.
"It's not about time management, it's about attention management," says Pearsall. "In other words, it's not what you are putting on your schedule, it's what you are putting on your mind." He will also describe how his research on toxic success supports the idea that "healthy work and healthy family are inseparable" and will explain how integrating work and family is a cornerstone of Hawaiian culture.
Strength through adversity
Pearsall, who has lectured for companies such as AT&T, Prudential, IBM and Sprint, will also discuss his work on resilience that is described in his book "The Beethoven Factor: The New Positive Psychology of Hardiness, Happiness, Healing and Hope" (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2003). In it, Pearsall introduces readers to survivors of cancer and rape and others who discovered new strengths by overcoming adversity. Pearsall uses these "thrivers'" stories to illustrate his theory that adversity can be a stimulus for finding innate strengths.
Throughout the talk, he will weave in explanations of many of the fundamentals of Hawaiian culture, including the idea of "ohana," or family, "hana" or work and "pono," which means living in connection with the land, your family and your ancestors. In fact, he encourages APA members to embrace the idea of ohana by bringing family members to his nontraditional lecture.
"My colleagues may have a hard time at first understanding how you can explain hard science and still use chant, music and hula," says Pearsall. "We are going to invite them to open their minds, open their hearts and stop thinking either and starting thinking and."
For more information, visit www.paulpearsall.com.
The April Monitor will highlight three presidential-track convention sessions:
A talk by Pumla Gobodo Madizekala, PhD, a former member of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who developed the commission's first outreach program to give victims of human rights violations a voice.
A session called "The Day Care Scare," featuring psychologists Lois Wladis Hoffman, PhD, Sandra Scarr, PhD, Nora S. Newcombe, PhD, and Stewart Friedman, PhD.
A talk by Norma Hotaling, a former prostitute who founded the SAGE Project Inc., which offers prostitutes peer education, job training, counseling and health care.