A sneak preview of Martin Seligman’s forthcoming book on prospection, Homo Prospectus, why Learned Helplessness is all wrong, and a new angle for positive psychology.
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Designing Happiness for 2015
From Paul Dolan’s talk about his new book, Happiness by Design, I gained 3 important insights to shape my thinking about happiness in the new year.
You can easily see how a pastime like fishing can become much more than a way to relax and unwind at the end of a busy week. Sitting on the riverbank with a rod and box of bait for days at a time will eventually lead you to become fairly knowledgeable about fish and fishing, but it’s only by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and into new realms that you’ll develop deep expertise.
Increasing our level of curiosity by spotting the novelty in a job or task we actively dislike is a great way to make it less of a chore and open us up to new possibilities.
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The Science of Happiness – Tal Ben-Shahar
On July 31, I joined around 500 other people in London to hear a talk on The Science of Happiness by Dr Tal Ben-Shahar. Anyone who can engage undergraduates on the scale that he did at Harvard must have something very special to offer. He focused on three themes: paying attention, asking the right questions, and appreciation.
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Other People Do Matter: ECPP2014
The 7th ECPP in Amsterdam from 1st-4th July was a fabulous opportunity to get up-to-date with the latest positive psychology research and practice. I was struck by how often the conference returned to the theme of connection and, in the widest-possible sense, well-being from a community perspective.
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Happiness – Just Do It!
Don’t sit there too long waiting for happiness to appear, or wondering whether now is the right time to do something. Why not take a different approach? Why not act now and reflect afterwards on whether it worked? If it wasn’t quite right, you can change it, and in the meantime you will have learned something about yourself. This way, you can act your way into a new way of being happy.
Kindness: From Random Acts to a Way of Life
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is about the highs and lows of a boy with a severe facial disfigurement as he attends middle school for the first time. It’s a brilliant book, very thought provoking on the nature of resilience and friendship and courage and kindness. It has led me to think about kindness, from random acts such as the challenge to NekNominations from South Africa to all the non-randomly kind people who are thoughtful, and helpful to others simply because that’s who they are.
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Other Lenses on Strengths
What can you do to help people understand the strengths of others? How can you help them learn how to use different strengths as lenses to see things from different points of view? Here’s one fabulous technique, adapted from Michelle C. Louis to enable people to do just that. At the same time, it strengthens relationships.
Earlier this month I got together with several of my colleagues to share ideas about using the VIA Character Strengths at work. We shared stories about seeing the same strength displayed in different ways in different people. Take Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. Here are three stories about this strength manifesting in different ways in different lives.
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Positive Psychology and the Body (Book Review)
The main message of this book is that it doesn’t work to focus only on the cognitive aspects of psychological well-being if you want to increase human flourishing. There are many processes involving the physical body that contribute to psychological well-being. If you have a serious interest in positive psychology and mental health, then reading Positive Psychology and the Body is a must.
Nelson Mandela: A Life and Legacy of Strengths
December 5, 2013 will be remembered for news of the death of the first black president of South Africa, anti-apartheid icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela. I’m not normally drawn to writing about political leaders. But Mandela was different in every respect. His life was a life well-lived.
During last week’s Positive Education Summit in the UK, I was exceedingly fortunate to be invited by Martin Seligman to a dinner where the general topic of conversation was the future of positive psychology and positive education. At Seligman’s request, we stuck to the one-conversation rule which meant that everyone could hear and respond to everyone else’s contributions.
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The Oxford Handbook of Happiness (Book Review)
This is a ground-breaking volume of positive psychology research, and the breadth of perspectives is unparalleled. Not only are new and more specialized topics included, but even familiar topics are illustrated with up-to-date research, case studies, and examples. Clearly this is what positive psychology students and teachers need to progress the science, do high quality research, and put it out into the public domain.
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Eleven Reasons to Own, Love, and Give Pursuing the Good Life (Book Review)
Pick any chapter from Chris Peterson’s posthumously published book, Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology, and you’re in for a real treat. His reflections cover every aspect of what it means to be human and to live a life worth living. Even sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll get a passing mention, although you won’t find them listed in the index.
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Man + Shed = Happiness
We seem to be working harder and consuming more than ever before, but for all the stuff that comes with 21st century living to make our lives easier, less labor-intensive, and more comfortable, we don’t seem to be much happier. A growing number of people feel anxious and depressed. Can living a simpler life make us happier? The answer is not what you might expect.
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Five Reasons to Focus on Flow
There are many good reasons why we should focus more on flow as a route to well-being. Five of the best ones are highlighted here along with several tips for making flow experiences more likely.
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Beer and Philosophy: Engagement Japanese Style
According to several news reports, what Inamori did to re-engage employees and lead Japanese Airlines back into the black was to insist on compulsory philosophy sessions for all staff, washed down with free beer. I was so intrigued by this story that I wanted to delve a bit deeper. I hoped Kazuo Inamori’s business philosophy might yield some positive psychology gems like the ones I recently found with Honda.
Even though Ken Keir focused on Honda’s R&D philosophy, explaining that in recessionary times, the company goes against the tide and invests more in R&D rather than less, by the time we reached slide 5 of the presentation on the Honda strategy, vision, values, and behavior, it was pretty clear to me that here was a company founded on positive psychology principles. How did I know?
Yesterday, the UK’s Office for National Statistics published its first Annual Report on Measuring National Well-being (MNW). The MNW aim is to publish accepted and trusted statistics that help people monitor well-being in the UK. Fascinating reading! Even those outside the UK are sure to find something that surprises you, and the report may prompt you to question your understanding of how you can promote well-being for others, whether in your work or in life generally.