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Description: Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (2000) coined the term positive psychology, which focuses on an individual’s strengths as a way of finding happiness and improved well-being. While positive psychology emphasizes people’s strengths, it does not encompass all of the different ways in which happiness and well‐being can be defined across cultures and different groups. Cultural differences impact people’s values, emotions, and how they define the self and what happiness means to them. This workshop will explore how positive psychology principles can be utilized within varying cultures to allow for a more diverse and inclusive definition of happiness and what it means to each of us.

Learning Objectives:

Participants completing this event will be able to:

  1. Identify key components of positive psychology.
  2. Determine the impact of cultural differences of individuals on their definition of happiness.
  3. Create interventions that honor diversity and allow for increased happiness within work with clients.
  4. Reflect on own definition of happiness that allows space for our own diversity.

Headshot of Jenny SmithTrainer: Jenny Smith, EdS, LCSW-S, LISW-CP (she/her/hers) is a licensed clinical social worker and supervisor with more than 25 years of experience in juvenile justice, departments of social services (child welfare, intensive in home, and post adoptions), private practice, and higher education (counseling and wellness services/administrator). Prior to joining UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Social Work, she spent 15 years in a university setting as the associate dean of students and director of counseling services at Lenoir Rhyne University. During her time there, she established an integrative health and wellness center for students that included counseling, disability, and student health services. She currently is in private practice with Redfish Counseling and is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Field Faculty with UNC’s 3-Year Winston-Salem MSW Program.


Brooks, A.C. (2021, July). Different Cultures Define Happiness Differently. The Atlantic.

Pogosyan, M. (2016, May). How Does Culture Affect Our Happiness? Psychology Today.

Newman, K.M. (2019, May). How Cultural Differences Shape Your Happiness. Mind & Body.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2013). Flourish. Simon & Schuster.

Uchida, Y., Norasakkunkit, V. & Kitayama, S. Cultural constructions of happiness: theory and emprical evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies 5, 223–239 (2004).

Wilson, V (2023, January) How Does Culture Affect Our Happiness? Exceptional Futures.

Ye, D., Yew-Kwang, N., Lian, Y. (2015). Culture and Happiness. Soc Indic Res, 123(2), 519-547.

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