Peace to explore the art, science of joy in Professional Women’s Network

Anne Peace is serious about joy.

A self-described “joyologist” and a life coach, Peace will share her professional and personal journey from grief to optimism at 1 p.m. today at the Women’s Club.

While peace was enduring a series of losses, friends took her on a life-changing trip to the Dominican Republic.

“In the midst of all this trauma, finding joy was the last thing on my mind,” Peace said. Nevertheless, the combination of the beach, sun and Dominican energy convinced her of the need to find her joy.

Peace said she “followed a cookie crumb trail” to Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology and the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center. In 2009, she attended the first international conference
on Positive Psychology in Philadelphia, which in turn led to a course on the foundations of positive psychology. After much exploration, Peace decided the field was legitimate.

Positive psychology “is not airy fairy,” she said. “It’s about studying human flourishing and supporting human functioning, and looking at brains, neuroscience and neuroplasticity. We can change our brains and our neuropsychology,” Peace said.

As an experienced public health professional, this merger of brain science and health resonated with her. Upon graduating from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in nursing, she worked closely with family’s coping with mental health issues.

“Nursing is a spiral into grief and loss,” Peace said.

When she noticed a common thread among her patients and their families — challenges managing their public lives — she left nursing to earn a diploma in child studies and teach skills important for families at Sheridan College in greater Toronto.

Peace’s life coaching toolkit also includes the application of personality and temperament theory. She is certified to work with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment to enable people to learn more about how they can use their individual personality preferences in their growth and development. She has also trained with the career/life organization Personality Dimensions, which she said uses the True Colors model of personality identification.

Through her affiliation with the Toronto-based organization, Company of Women, Peace met Christine Desforges, with whom she co-authored Newborn Life: Fostering Joy in the First Year of Motherhood. Writing this book enabled her to apply positive psychology theory and science to mothers.

Encouraging people to feel their grief rather than hide it, and to think critically, are essential aspects of Peace’s coaching approach. Positive psychology neither ignores nor discounts anger, sadness and depression.

“I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been challenged on many levels,” she said. “This is not about dancing through the meadow in your gauzy dress. You must be conscious of what you feel and when you need help.”

Peace said ancient Egyptians regarded joy as a sacred responsibility. They believed that after one dies God would ask two questions: “Did you find joy?” and “Did you bring joy?”