“They teach students to love their country and their parents, but not really to love themselves.”

The Division of Science and Technology (DST) held a lecture with guest speaker and current PhD candidate of the joint programme of Tsinghua University and the University of California, Mr Zeng Guang, on 16 November. The topic of this lecture was ‘Applying positive psychology to improve school engagement and personal well-being’.

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Mr Zeng Guang

Mr Zeng graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, US with a Master’s from the Applied Positive Psychology Programme (MAPP).

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Mr Zeng expressed great passion for this topic

The lecture was about how positive psychology can have lasting effects on students. With positive psychology, students can experience positive education. He demonstrated this concept by displaying a visual aid design, similar to a DNA strand. Positive psychology and positive education working together creates a balance of academics and well-being.

“Not all negative emotions are bad”

Mr Zeng previously worked as a Special Invited Researcher at the Positive Psychology Research Centre of Tsinghua University, and as a research assistant in the Psychology Department of Cambridge University. With an example of one study involving “positive intervention”, he explained how students were encouraged to write down three good things about their lives, and over time, their depression symptoms were shown to decrease.

Interestingly enough, he discussed how sometimes trying to get younger audiences to feel more positive emotions can in fact trigger the opposite response. When encouraging children to be more grateful for their parents, they believed they were doing something wrong and started to stress themselves out, overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, shame, and indebtedness.

Even though this specific experiment did not produce the desired results, now as adults, we can strive for better outcomes. Mr Zeng specified that “not all negative emotions are bad”. He explained that it is not wrong to feel a negative emotion, but it is necessary to have the emotional tool set to work through them in a healthy way and incorporate positive emotions into the equation.

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Mr Zeng Guang and UIC Emeritus Professor Zee Sze Yong

Reporter: Marissa Furney
Photographer: Marissa Furney, Feng Yingying (Y1)
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He, Étienne Fermie
(from MPRO)