The counselling unit of Dean Students’ Welfare Office, University of Hyderabad (UoH) organized an online lecture on “Human well being” by Dr. S. Salman Ahmad, Psychologist and faculty at University of Copenhagen, to mark the occasion of World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2020. The lecture was held under the series, “Alambana”, a Psycho-Social support program to help students and staff members of University of Hyderabad during Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. S. Salman Ahmad

Dr. S. Salman Ahmad is a psychologist and teacher at University of Copenhagen, Denmark and the Copenhagen Business School. He is also the chief consultant at Living Institute in Denmark and the founding associate at Cnergi.

Dr. Salman began the lecture by talking about the concept of happiness and its association with well being of a person. He said, “In psychology, happiness is usually spoken of as an emotion. The Cirumplex Model of Emotions proposed by Russell, Posner and Peterson in 2005, gives us an insight into different aspects of well being and tells us that happiness cannot be associated with well being all the time. But well being is also about being content, relaxed and calm. There is cognitive experience of well being, which is more laid back.”

“We speak of happiness as a balance between positive and negative affect. A balance is perhaps very important because negative emotions are also very important. Emotions like anger, frustration, fear or boredom, gives us important information about ourselves, about the nature of whats going on around us. If we get rid of our negative emotions, we might have difficulty surviving and we may end up taking too many risks. The problem is when these negative emotions takeover us, paralyses us, doesn’t lets us grow,” Dr. Salman added.

Adding to the same concept, Dr Ahmad said, “Later on, psychologists started looking at happiness as life satisfaction and called it as cognitive well being, where you reflect at your life and you feel satisfied. Then there is another stream in the study of well being that looks at well being and human happiness in a slightly different way and this is in terms of to what extent are we thriving or flourishing or realizing our potential in our lives.”

He talked about another well researched model: “Model of Well Being” that was proposed by Keyes, Schmotkin and Ryff in 2002. “This model talks about subjective well being, that was described as life satisfaction and short term effective well being. It has to do with the quality of life, hedonic happiness and how much are we enjoying life. Besides, this model also talks about eudaimonic happiness which is about realizing the meaning of your life, which is very important for well being,” he mentioned.

According to Dr Salman, there have been many researches around these aspects of well being, when it comes to age and education. He said, “Adults who have low subjective well being that is perceived life quality, lower balance between negative and positive, low life satisfaction and low psychological well being; they tend to be younger adults with less education. Here we can see the importance of education in facilitating psychological well being, because education encrypts people with the skills of reflection, analysis, and abstraction which are necessary for making meaning out of our lives.”

On the other hand, he said, “we have adults with high subjective well being but low psychological well being. They are happy in terms of high levels of positive affect and they tend to be quite satisfied with life. Age somehow compensates for education, so even if we have lower education with age, I think, wisdom emerges and you tend to accept and know yourself better. The more we educate ourselves and others around us, the more happier we are.”

“Now the question is, how do we transform and bring change in our life and in social system? How do we enhance our well being?” said Dr Ahmad and added, “When we talk about change we talk about the whole structure (can be biological or cultural) and agency (capacity to act independently). Around 40% of positive emotionality and 55% of negative emotionality are genetically based, that leaves about 50% of variance that is not explained by biological components. According to a study by Lyubomirsky, genetics account for 50% of variance for happiness whereas life circumstances account for 10% and intentional activity accounts for 40%.”

He also highlighted the ways to maintain psychological well being through meditation, through understanding our inner values, through building resilience, through developing self control, through developing generosity, and through practicing gratitude and forgiveness.

Contributed by Soumya Sharma, Department of Communication 

See the video of the talk below.

Alambana: On Human Wellbeing

Alambana: A series of Psycho-Social support programs to students and staff of University of Hyderabad during covid-19 pandemic.Topic: On Human WellbeingSpeaker: Dr. S. Salman Ahmad, Psychologist, Lecturer at Københavns Universitet – University of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen Business School, Chief consultant at Living Institute & Founding Associate at Cnergi

Posted by Dean, Students' Welfare, University of Hyderabad on Saturday, October 10, 2020