Healthy Bodies, Healthy Mind: An interview with Diviya Lewis

Diviya Lewis practices Positive Psychology and makes it her mission to help and inspire others to do the same. I spoke with Diviya to ask a few questions about her journey into the world of Positive Psychology and how it's helped inspire others!  

Can you tell us what Positive Psychology is and talk about your involvement in it?

Positive Psychology has been around since the turn of the century, shepherded by prominent psychologists like William James & Abraham Maslow who've shared their teachings and observations. It emerged as a field when Martin Seligman began presenting the branch of psychology as an alternate way of understanding mental illness. Instead of studying what was 'wrong' with people (i.e. illness and pathology), he wanted to promote studying what was 'right' (i.e. wellness and flourishing). This resonated so much with me! Perspective is key in our human experience - something I've seen through years of research - and I hope to share this message with the world. The movement of positive psychology has challenged the public and academic community to re-frame the way they see themselves and the world.

I've been immersed in the research of positive psychology for the past couple of years, but its principles are ingrained in who I am, as a person. I am incorporating them into my practice while pursuing a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology, and hope to use what I've learned within organizations in the future from a Psychotherapy perspective. In addition, I facilitate workshops and training sessions called LIFO(R), using a strengths-based approach to behavioural and communication styles. The objective of the workshop is to help teams learn to be aware of themselves and as their colleagues, enhancing rapport and improving employee engagement on a variety of levels.

What does "Choose Gratitude" mean to you? How did you get started with that?

Choose Gratitude is an initiative I started that helps people see the positive in their day-to-day. Essentially, I hand out pocket-sized cards to people who brighten up my day - these include family, friends, and even strangers I encounter. Gratitude has a "spill-over" effect , and it is amazing to witness and hear about the positive impact that giving and receiving a gratitude card has on others.

Choose Gratitude grew from a need to spread the bigger message of appreciation. People often don't take enough time to enjoy the things they have in their lives, and many feel a sense of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment. By bringing gratitude to the forefront of people's awareness, I aim to positively affect the lives of individuals and those around them.

What has the impact of positive psychology and gratitude had on the people you've met and speak to about it?

Gratitude is definitely being promoted as a practice that improves wellness, but what you read on blogs can sometimes be misleading. Gratitude is not a cure-all. It is a piece of the puzzle, and a tool that can be used to change the way you perceive and experience your life. While a positive perspective makes a huge difference, positive psychology is not only about being positive. We mustn't ignore hurt, pain, anger or sorrow that we feel in an attempt to 'stay positive'. However, as a daily practice, and as a re-training of our mindset, seeing the silver lining has a huge impact on our life satisfaction, our relationships with those around us, and with ourselves. What's most important to me is that after I've had talks with people, they share the contagion of energy and positive thinking with those around them. It is important that we surround ourselves by people and things that energize us. This has been a personal goal of mine, and it is so uplifting to hear that others have made it their goal, too.

It sounds like positive psychology and yoga's core principles go hand-in-hand. What is about yoga that people love? 

People enjoy yoga for a multitude of reasons: Some do it as a form of exercise while others choose it as a way of life. I've witnessed yoga help people heal from illnesses like arthritis! My mom (a high-school special-ed teacher by day, Hatha yoga instructor extraordinaire by night) uses yoga with her students, and has seen improvements in attentiveness, comprehension and, most importantly, enjoyment in her students. I personally practice yoga for a mix of all of the above. Yoga is also aligned with my aim to pause, slow down, be present and take life as it comes. The mindfulness inherent within yoga practices can extend to your daily life. This is something that is more powerful than any words I can use to describe it.

What has your experience with Young Women in Business been like since you became involved?

My experience thus far has been great. The people make the vision of personal development come alive, and this is a great group of people to work with. Each one brings unique perspectives and strengths, and I am proud to be a part of this organization. After presenting at the launch Conference, I learned of the values and mission of YWiB, and knew I wanted to be involved somehow. Being a small business owner, I have felt and understand the struggle of networking, and connecting with like-minded people in Toronto.