By Sarah Androsoff, Marketing Services
Human behaviour has always fascinated Dr. Jason Cressey. In high school, he would visit the shopping mall food court at lunch just to watch people. "It was the perfect arena," he laughs. "You can sit at the edge of a food court without buying anything and watch people have conversations." Watching people was an unplanned introduction to psychology that held him spellbound.
Yorkshire, UK is where Jason grew up, went to high school, and had his first continuing education experience. His high school didn't offer psychology classes, so in the evenings he took a continuing education course in psychology. He then went on to complete his undergraduate degree in psychology and doctorate in social psychology at Oxford University.
In 2007, Jason became an instructor with Continuing Studies at UVic. He teaches courses that discuss mindfulness, resilience and emotional intelligence; and this term, his course Resilience and Flourishing covers the subject of positive thinking. In one of his class activities, Jason often asks his students to write down the things they are grateful for. "It's fine if they are small moments, we don't need monumental events to feel grateful," explains Jason. "The more we cultivate the sense of gratitude, the more we actively manifest positivity in our lives."
The accessibility and consistent engagement from his Continuing Studies students is what makes teaching enjoyable for Jason. "The students here want to be challenged and learn something new," Jason points out. Hearing his students’ perspectives and life experiences reminds him to stay humble. "Particularly in a subject like psychology, which is about the human experience, I am always learning from others," he continues.
Besides teaching, Jason spends his time travelling the world: "The richest lessons I've learned in the field of psychology have come from travelling." He has had multiple travel articles published in magazines, and he posts travel stories on his blog. To date, Jason has travelled to 150 countries, and he hopes to keep seeing more. "One of my favourite countries is Niue [a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean]. I used to lead tours there to swim with the dolphins and whales off its coastline."
Travelling to countries like Türkiye, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Spain and Zimbabwe have strengthened Jason's frame of mind. "Zimbabwe, in particular, has crippling financial pressures and yet has some of the most gracious people." Meeting people with different backgrounds and lifestyles has educated him greatly on the world's realities. "You see resiliency in a whole new light when you're spending time with people of different cultures and watching the way they live," says Jason. He believes that his travel experiences add richness and credibility to his teaching.
Teaching and travel writing motivates Jason to inspire others, but also to inspire himself. Practicing gratitude and listening to other people's perspectives reminds him to not take life for granted. "Focus more on the value of the present moment," he suggests. "Those who choose to adopt a more positive approach will have greater levels of joy in their lives."