Emiliya Zhivotovskaya is a leading voice in the world of positive psychology and the science of flourishing. She’s a widely sought-after speaker, educator, facilitator, and coach. Jonathan Fields says, “she offers that astonishingly rare blend of deep insight, wisdom beyond her years, a fierce grounding in science and the heart of a teacher.”
At the age of 5, Emiliya and her family fled from Kiev, escaping the fall of Communism and the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. She found herself in a new land, faced with challenges completely foreign to the average kid growing up in a New York suburb. Then, 9 years later, she faced yet another tragedy, the sudden loss of her brother as he ran to save his fiancé from drowning and lost his life in the process of saving hers. And years later, the loss of her mother.
From this place of deep challenge, Emiliya could have turned to the dark side. She could have given up, blamed the world and walked away from joy. From happiness. From possibility. Instead, she found awakening, strength and a renewed sense of gratitude. She discovered within herself a wellspring of resilience and a relentless desire to understand where this came from and how to bring a similar lens to others. She was determined to help others flourish.
For more information about Emiliya, visit her webste at http://www.emiliya.com.
During this excellent, in-depth chat, Emiliya and I discussed:
- Growing up in Kiev, Ukraine with situations that some might consider hardships. Did she?
- What is Positive Psychology and how does it differ from traditional psychology?
- The work of Martin Seligman, Ph.D. and his theory of “learned helplessness.”
- What is a life of meaning and purpose? What would that look like?
- The idea of a Happiness Set Point and why it’s useful to be able to adapt when negative things happen.
- Her mantra: “Self-awareness enables self compassion, which enables self care.”
- What tools does she use to get out of a negative cycle/loop?
- The process her coach calls flipping: flip things she doesn’t want to what she actually wants out of that scenario.
- The science behind why gratitude really works and why it survived at an evolutionary level.
- The Broaden and Build theory of Positive Emotions by Barbara Fredrickson.
- The Upside to your Darkside by Dr. Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener.
- What is Psychological Capital and why is it important to our well-being?
- “Most people are aware of what’s not working, but aren’t aware of what IS. Ask: ‘What’s happening when I feel really good?'”
- Her PERMA=V Pathways to Flourising theory and how it expands on Seligman’s work to include Vitality.
- Getting her PhD in mind-body medicine and the origins of her interest via family tragedy.
- The Flourishing Center and the Certification in Applied Positive Psychology program.
- “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are.”