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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 29/10/2006

Frequent visitors to the site will know that the name we’ve given to what we’re doing with Positive Psychology in Scotland is the Vanguard. Well on Wednesday we had our final two Vanguard events for 2006. They were held in the Hub in Edinburgh. The morning was devoted to education and the afternoon to an update on developments in Positive Psychology. Judging from the buzz on the day, the verbal feedback and the evaluations, both events were a huge success. As usual Professor Martin Seligman was a big attraction.

This was the third time that I had organised an event in Scotland with Martin Seligman as the keynote speaker. Seligman is very taken with Scotland and, according to his assistant Andrew who accompanied him on this trip, he talks a lot about Scotland on his various travels. One of the great attractions for Seligman is the Scottish Enlightenment. Francis Hutcheson, the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, wrote extensively about happiness and Seligman believes he was one of the early Positive Psychologists. Since Seligman likes to position PP as a new development in social science, and as he is aware that Scotland invented social science during the 18th century, he is also keen to see Scotland have a leading role in its dissemination.

During his two-night stay in the capital, Seligman got a real injection of historical Edinburgh. Not only did he speak in the Hub, which was once a church at the top of the Royal Mile, but also we sat and had a drink with Nick Emler, another of the speakers, in one of the very atmospheric wee pubs up the steps at the back of Waverley Station. What’s more we had a lively dinner discussion in a great restaurant which not only served lovely food and wine but afforded him a fantastic view of an illuminated Edinburgh Castle.

While he was here, Martin Seligman also managed a quick tour of the Scottish Parliament building. He was much impressed. He loved the architecture – particularly the Garden Lobby - and the views out of the window on to Salisbury Crags. He also thought that, unlike most legislatures, it seemed genuinely family friendly.

I had two trips to the USA this year, and one each occasion I was so happy to get back to Scotland. America is a huge country and, of course, it has lots of things to commend it, however mainstream American culture is fairly dull. By contrast, Scotland has a fascinating history and a rich culture. No wonder Professor Seligman went back saying that his trip here had been one of the highlights of his life. No doubt when the Vanguard rolls on next year, we’ll invite him back and he can savour more Scottish delights.

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