Interview with Lesley Lyle & Dan Collinson

Psychology Blog Author

Associate Lecturers – Buckinghamshire New University, Authors of The Positive Psychology People

About Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson: Dan and Lesley are partners in their own company Positive Psychology Learning, and Associate Lecturers on the MSc Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) course at Buckinghamshire New University. They also fund and run The Positive Psychology People (TPPP) together. Their company, Positive Psychology Learning, was launched shortly after TPPP and they are pleased to say both have been successful. Lesley and Dan are passionate about the subject of Positive Psychology and apply the principles in both their personal and professional lives. TPPP is very important to them, and they are committed to maintaining it and providing free Positive Psychology to as many people as possible.

Lesley and Dan also run open Positive Psychology courses accredited by Buckinghamshire New University, as well as working with organisations in the UK and overseas. They have been working with the United Arab Emirates government helping them to implement a policy of happiness and positivity, and recently began working with the Royal Air Force in the UK. You can read their individual bios on their website: The Positive Psychology People. Dan is a keen cyclist and lives in Maidenhead and Lesley enjoys walking in the New Forest where she lives.

[] Why did you originally start a blog about positive psychology?

[Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson] We wanted to share the concept of Positive Psychology with people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it and we felt there was a need to present the science of Positive Psychology in plain language so that everyone could understand.

[] What do you hope to achieve by maintaining The Positive Psychology People?

[Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson] We really hope to bring the science of The Positive Psychology People to as many people as possible around the world. In a short time, we have more than 29,500 followers in (at the last count) 66 countries. We would like to develop and extend the services we offer whilst remaining a non-profit organisation.

[] The Positive Psychology People is one of the few on our list of blogs that was spearheaded by a university student. Reflecting on your own graduate experience, and those of the students you’ve come across since then, what advice would you give to current students of Positive Psychology?

[Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson] As an Associate Lecturer on the MSc Applied Positive Psychology course (MAPP), I advise students to explore the areas of Positive Psychology that appeal to them most and apply the principles in their own lives. In this way, they learn the subject from the ‘inside out,’ from their personal experience as well a from a theoretical viewpoint.

[] Has the focus of the blog changed over time? If so, how?

[Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson] To begin with, we wrote a lot of blogs ourselves but invited and encouraged others to write about their own experiences of applying Positive Psychology. Writing for the website has become very popular. We publish up to 20 original articles each month and have a waiting list of people who would like to join the team. We have a few guidelines but we encourage people to present their work in the way that suits them best. Consequently, the blogs cover a diverse range of subject matter such as Positive Psychology for self-growth, education, healthcare, business etc.

[] In your About page you mention that the site was never intended to stagnate as a completed project, but rather to serve as “a framework for ‘magic to happen.’” Can you describe some of the “magic” you’ve stirred up through this site?

[Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson] The magic of this website is that it has grown so quickly and spread so widely and connected so many people. We have share the message of TPPP whenever and wherever we can. Part of the magic was being invited to be part of a happiness and positivity brainstorming event by the government of the UAE. There are many exciting ideas we would like to put in place but the challenge is finding the time and having the expertise to bring them to fruition. Dan and I meet the costs of running and managing the website from our business (Positive Psychology Learning), but we are limited by the amount of free time and funds we have to spend. Long term future plans include an online forum run by Positive Psychology experts to encourage active discussion, a register of Positive Psychologists around the world, and free online Positive Psychology classes for our readers. Currently, these are our 3 magic wishes we would like to realise.

[] On your site you explain the advent of Positive Psychology in the 1998 inauguration speech of Dr. Martin Seligman as president of the American Psychological Association. Fast-forwarding to 2017, what do you think traditional psychology needs to learn most Positive Psychology, and why?

[Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson] We have a high respect for established traditional psychology, which provides a valuable service in the field of mental health. Positive Psychology was always intended to balance and complement traditional psychology, not replace it. In 2017, I think there is wide acceptance that mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness. Applied Positive Psychology is an effective way for healthy people to optimize their wellbeing, and as Dan says, “go from good to great.”

[] What are some of the biggest misconceptions about positive psychology, and how does your blog work to clarify them?

[Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson] Definitely, the most common misconception is that Positive Psychology is based on positive thinking, the Law of Attraction or similar. Our website clarifies that Positive Psychology is a science, based on reliable, validated research and offers evidence based tools. Our blogs demonstrate how this science can be utilised and applied in many different ways to create positive change. Many authors write about their own personal transformation and share success stories of Positive Psychology being applied in the workplace to improve relationships. Real life examples seem more useful and relevant to people who are not familiar with the concept of Positive Psychology.

[] Is there anything else you’d like to add?

[Lesley Lyle] Thank you for your kind words and compliments about The Positive Psychology People (TPPP). I would like to give you the behind the scenes background to the website and Facebook page so you have a full understanding of what the website is, how it was created and how it runs. Although the original idea and name of The Positive Psychology People was mine, I cannot take credit for how it was created. I would like to tell you about some of the people who have been behind the creation of The Positive Psychology People because without them, the website would not have been possible and would not be in existence today.

First, these are some of the key people who made TPPP a reality.

Dan Collinson my friend, colleague and business partner in Positive Psychology Learning (PPL) has supported TPPP from the outset and is a driving force behind the success of the website. We both share the same vision that Positive Psychology is a wonderful resource to support total wellbeing and should be freely available to all. He has worked tirelessly to make TPPP a success, working on content and admin and most importantly, funding the costs of running the website through PPL.

Professor Lyn Soots was instrumental in making the website a reality, providing ideas and material before the site was published. She supported TPPP afterwards, writing her own blogs, as well as running a team of writers and being a great source of inspiration and encouragement.

Nikki (Ayles) Young gave us feedback about how the site looked and was for a time one of our regular contributors. She has since enrolled on the MSc Applied Positive Psychology course (MAPP) at Buckinghamshire New University.

Bryony Shaw wrote “10 Ways to Improve Wellbeing” which was a PDF available to download and is still a regular contributor and author on the course, sharing ways of applying Positive Psychology in education. The Psychology Department at Bucks New University was instrumental in the development of the website by providing funding to launch. MAPP course leaders, Dr. Piers Worth and Dr. Matthew Smith, continue to promote the website to students and encourage them to write blogs as part of their studies.

Karen E M Henry wrote a whole series of weekly blogs, on the theme of ‘Clarity is …’ This was an immensely popular and interesting series.

EMAPP – Students from the Executive Master in Applied Positive Psychology course from the Lisbon University in Portugal have provided support and blogs from the inception of The Positive Psychology People. Their blogs are in English and Portuguese, enabling non-English speakers to be able to read their positive psychology blogs.

Adam Gibson spent a considerable amount of time providing us with up to date Positive Psychology research.

Brent O’Bannon, a highly respected strengths coach, has been writing each month on the subject of strengths, providing an enormous amount of information about this subject. Iain Menzies designed and maintains the website for us and dedicates a lot of time to this project although he has no other connection with Positive Psychology.

Past and present writers – There are more than 350 published blogs on the website from dozens of different authors. We appreciate the time and effort that it takes to write a blog and appreciate all the hard work of our writers, past and present, who have written for us. Not surprisingly, many have since left after a while and made way for others to take their place. We are grateful to them all.

Thank you, Lesley and Dan. Learn more about The Positive Psychology People on our Psychology Blogs list.

Last updated: April 2020