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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 10/05/2005

There’s a further irony for me in my attitudes to America. One of the reasons I started to write what eventually turned out to be The Scots Crisis of Confidence is that I wanted to write a booklet on how we needed to find ways to address confidence issues in Scotland without resorting to importing programmes from America. I believed that Scottish culture, particularly Scottish scepticism, meant that approaches which had been devised in the US wouldn’t necessarily go down well here. Yet the Centre’s first flagship event – the Vanguard Programme – involves the American psychology professor, Martin Seligman as well as other Americans in the distance learning element of the programme. It isn’t that I’ve changed my views. I still believe that many American approaches which involve gurus aren’t likely to have broad appeal, particularly for policy-makers and politicians. But someone like Seligman is able to bridge this cultural gap because he is a considerable academic and an empiricist. In other words, there is nothing of the snake oil salesman about Seligman and he talks a language that many educated Scots find appealing. What’s more the essence of Seligman’s work chimes very well with Scottish values. His work on happiness, for example, essentially boils down to a very simple piece of advice which many Scots would only be too happy to endorse: find out what makes you tick or what you are good at and then be in a job, or involved in a project, where every day you can use these skills in the service of other people. It is enough to warm the heart of any modern day Scottish Calvinist – atheists and Catholic Calvinists included!

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