Photo of Kathryn BrittonKathryn Heninger Britton is a coach, author, editor, consultant, and educator with a focus on applied positive psychology. Her personal mission is to put the research findings from positive social sciences into the hands of everyday people in ways that help them increase personal and organizational well-being.  In 2006, she graduated in the first class of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2007, she finished a 30-year software engineering career mostly with IBM that included extensive experience as a team leader and mentor.  She co-teaches Managing Project Teams in the Project Management Department at the University of Maryland, a course founded on positive workplace concepts.  She is an associate editor for the online publication, Positive Psychology News Daily (PPND), where she has published more than 50 articles.  She is also co-author of three books on practical ways to apply positive psychology.  Her latest book is Smarts and Stamina: The Busy Person’s Guide to Optimal Health and Performance.

Kathryn Britton will be presenting an invited lecture entitled I Did and Now I Am: The Evolution of Well-being and Meaning as People Age.

Some of Kathryn Britton’s work:

Managing Project Teams at the University of Maryland =>

Positive Psychology News Daily =>

Smarts and Stamina book =>

Presentation Abstract:

I Did and Now I Am: The Evolution of Well-being and Meaning as People Age

In youth and middle age, people often derive meaning from doing things:  striving for goals, accomplishing life work, caring for other people, and serving causes.   As people become very old, their ability to derive meaning from doing tends to diminish as they face physical limitations, energy loss, and memory impairment.  What does meaning mean in the lives of the oldest old?  What reasons to exist do people find when they can no longer serve, but must themselves be served?  For some people, meaning comes from remembered experience, making sense of the trajectory of an entire life.  How can we support this effort, and what happens when there is little memory of experience?  What can we learn from them that will help us preserve our own well-being when we get our turns to be the oldest old?  This session will explore these questions in the context of short biographies of people in their late 80’s.

Underlying research includes work by Dov Shmotkin, Neal Krause, Paul Wong, Howard Litwin, and other scientists cited in two works, Understanding Well-Being in the Oldest Old and The Human Quest for Meaning.