Achieving happiness is in your hands

Photo by Jared Williams

Beverley Myatt taps into her happiness to share a smile with The Chronicle.

Beverly Myatt is a professor at Durham College that more often than not sees the glass of positive perspective as half full rather than half empty. So in turn she designed two courses to help keep students’ happiness levels healthy.

We sat down with Myatt as she went into detail about what her role is at DC.

What do you do? And how do you do it?

I teach two courses that I developed, one in Positive Psychology, and one in Human Intelligence.

So I worked in the field of children, adolescent, and young adult mental health for about 24 years. I wanted to start telling people what was right with them.

What makes your topic of research relevant?

In the field of Positive Psychology there’s a lot of implementation of some of the strategies at the lower school levels (elementary, high school).

I’m doing things like mindfulness meditations and practicing gratitude, and identifying strengths in each other as students. So I’m really trying to make [the classroom] a more focused environment, a less stressful environment.

When and how did you get interested in your area of expertise?

I just started reading all I could about positive psychology as a field has only been around since the year 2000. So it’s a very new field compared to going back to the 1800s.

There’s a lot of criticism that’s it’s just all about being “happy” but its not.

 Can you tell me about your roots and how you ended up here in Oshawa?

Ah I’d have to think about that… Well, I grew up in Brampton and I went to school in Hamilton, than I went to school in Montreal. So I moved around a bit.

The first job in education that I got was actually in Cobourg.

When I Applied to Durham College [what] used to be called the Centre for Students with Disabilities is now called the Accessibilities Centre, and that was the first job that the first place that offered me a full time job. And With two little kids I said okay, and I’ve just been here ever since.

Who inspired you along the way?

Well I mean if I think back to childhood, my first inspiration was a high School English Teacher.

He was always someone who gave constructive feedback but a lot of positive reinforcement.

It was through his encouragement that I even ended up going to university. So I think that would be the first person that inspired me.

Then a lot of the individuals I’ve worked with over the years have inspired me. To Facilitated there education and personal experience and see then through and get them graduated and into the professional world.

 Tell me about the projects you’re involved in.

I developed two courses. This one primarily, the Positive Psychology one promotes that prospective.  But my Human Intelligence course is also not just about understanding intelligence ­– but understanding how as individuals we’re smart as oppose to how smart are we. There’s just many different ways to be smart. 

What is the most important thing in this field you thing people should know?

That happiness is under your control…yeah.

I think a lot of people feel that this is just the way I am. There is a portion that is inherited; but like anything there’s a huge portion that is influenced by your environment and by the choices that we make. We have a choice to make to choose happiness.

What’s you favourite part of this research?

The favorite part of my research is…um … just seeing part of these strategies have on individuals.

Again showing them that they have control over that stress and that anxiety and just seeing the relief on their faces and just seeing the feedback. That’s really rewarding and reinforcing.

What is one of the toughest challenges you’ve face in your research?

There was quite a paper work process to go through it took almost all of last semester.  So by the time they agreed form my students to get consent from my students to be part of the project, it was week 11, week 12 of the semester.

So I’m hopeful that now that’s all in place this semester will be better.

What are two of your favourite cruises you’ve been on?

Haha! Almost any cruise is a favourite cruise! Um… I really liked going to Belize. I think because it’s very, well maybe less so now but it’s less popular. Belize is a little more untouched.


This interview was edited for style, length, and clarity.