Tag Archives: positive psychology

Got time off? Relax and re-energize with free books, magazines & podcasts!


Got workaholic tendencies? Then maybe it’s time to take a break! Whether you’re vacationing or simply enjoying a day at the beach, these link-filled articles can help you connect with some great tools & media that will help you shift gears, http://www.cheapambienpriceonline.com re-energize and maybe even reclaim that long-lost enthusiasm.


PhilosphersNotes Free Audio/PDF Combos: Stephen Covey, Don Miguel Ruiz, Esther/Jerry Hicks

Nearly every day, while exercising or waiting in line somewhere, I crank up my little MP3 player and listen to one of Brian Johnson’s 20-minute PhilosophersNotes. These are his distillations of some of the “big ideas” mined from a whole bunch of powerful Self-Help and Philosophy books, delivered via Brian’s upbeat and informal “friendly philosopher” narrations. What’s more, if I need to revisit some of those “big ideas” later and steal a quote or two, I just call up the matching PDF that accompanies each note.

All-in-all, his PhilosophersNotes really live up to Brian’s claim that they are “the ultimate personal growth tool. Giving you more wisdom in less time.”

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Free Mental & Spiritual Makeover, Part 2: Inspired Project Teams Podcasts

Topic: Team building, managing project teams, personal growth, philosophy
Podcasts & matching blog posts
Reviewer/email: Mike G – greers_pm@yahoo.com

[Disclaimer: I write & maintain the Inspired Project Teams website & podcasts. – MG]

My last post focused on some free tools to help with your mental and spiritual makeover as an individual. In this post, we highlight some free podcasts and blog posts that provide “enduring wisdom & guided challenges to help project teams achieve their best.”

Note: These podcasts aren’t only useful for project teams. You can use them to help with a mental and spiritual makeover within your family, your PTA, your soccer team, or simply that group of friends that has become a bit dysfunctional! Here’s how: As you listen to the podcasts and review the suggested team Challenges, whenever you hear the phrase “project team” or “team member,” just mentally replace it with “family” or “family member.” After all, people are people, whether they are working together  on the job or simply trying to get things done together by working on a home or civic project!

Inspired Project Teams Podcasts

(Read more below about specific Challenges & my favorite Inspired Project Teams podcasts.)

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Zaadz Notes: Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman

Topic: How you can (and why you should) train yourself to be more optimistic
Format: 16 minute MP3 download
Reviewer/email: Mike G – greers_pm@yahoo.com

This is a nice, tight little summary of Martin Seligman’s book Learned Optimism. Written and narrated by Brian Johnson, this audio distills Seligman’s work and provides specific examples of how you can apply Seligman’s techniques to your own life in order to become more optimistic and, in turn, happier and more successful. If you’re a pessimist… and tired of the pessimistic world-view… this free audio could begin to change your life in 16 minutes!

Zaadz Notes: Learned Optimism
(Continued in Comment.)

The Science of Happiness: Part 3, Train Yourself to Be Happier

“We found specific interventions [i.e., assignments or exercises] that make people lastingly happier, and we believe this study holds implications — small and large — for the future of positive interventions and perhaps for clinical interventions.” – from “Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions” a research paper published in American Psychologist by Martin Seligman, Tracy A. Steen, Nansook Park, & Christopher Peterson

So here’s the deal: If you want to train yourself to be happier and you’re not sure where to start, here’s some very good news: You don’t need to spend a lot of energy analyzing and worrying about your weaknesses. Instead, you can simply identify some of your key strengths and build on them by performing some relatively simple exercises that have been proven to increase happiness.


This is Part 3 in a series of posts on the Science of Happiness. In Part 1, A Little Theory, we looked at the origins and roots of the Positive Psychology movement and the Science of Happiness. In Part 2, Some Fun Stuff, we examined some popular resources from the BBC that provided interesting background and, I hope, motivated you to take charge of your own happiness. In this Part (Train Yourself to Be Happier), we’ll look at some specific steps you can take to increase the happiness in your life.So let’s get to it!

Step 1 [highly recommended, but optional]: Become familiar with two books by Martin Seligman.

If you’ve looked through the links in Parts 1 & 2, you’ve undoubtedly come across the name of the man who is usually identified as the founder of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman. His book, Authentic Happiness, is filled with wisdom and specific tools and strategies that can help you create a happier life. Dr. Seligman also wrote another landmark text, Learned Optimism, which examines why you should and how you can learn to develop an optimistic perspective. Ideally, you would get both of these books and immerse yourself in their wisdom to develop a solid foundation for your happiness. However, since this blog is about free training resources (and the books must be purchased), I’ve made this Step “optional.” (But you could at least get them from the library, right?)

Step 2: Identify your “signature strengths” (and don’t worry about your weaknesses!)

“I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.” – Dr. Martin Seligman in Authentic Happiness

So, how do you find your signature strengths? Easy! You go to Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness website ( http://www.authentichappiness.org ), sign up for your free membership (over 700,000 people have already done so!) and work through the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire. You’ll need a half hour or so, but this will measure your most important character strengths. According to the website: “The ranking of the strengths reflects your overall ratings of yourself on the 24 strengths in the survey, how much of each strength you possess. Your top five, especially those marked as Signature Strengths, are the ones to pay attention to and find ways to use more often.”

FYI: There are a whole bunch of other fascinating “scientifically tested” questionnaires, surveys, and scales at the Authentic Happiness website. You can use any of these to “Develop insights into yourself and the world around you…”

Step 3: Work through three key exercises which were used by the researchers (see intro quote from this Post) to help develop happiness in their research subjects.
* Gratitude visit. You have one week to write and then deliver a letter of gratitude in person to someone who had been especially kind to you but had never been properly thanked.
* Three good things in life. Every night for one week, write down three things that went well each day and provide a causal explanation for each good thing (i.e., describe why it happened).
* Using signature strengths in a new way. Take the inventory of character strengths online at http://www.authentichappiness.org and get individualized feedback about your top five (“signature”) strengths. Then use one of these top strengths in a new and different way every day for one week.

That’s it. And sure, they sound fairly simple. But remember, the researchers found empirical evidence that these exercises developed lasting happiness in the subjects who completed them! So, if you follow the steps above… if you really engage the exercises… you are likely to increase your happiness.

Further Information:

* To read a PDF version of the research report referred to above, “Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions” go to this URL:http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/ppprogressarticle.pdf

* To read a PDF version of Time Magazine’s “The New Science of Happiness” (including “Eight Steps Toward a More Satisfying Life” …some practical suggestions from University of California psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, based on research findings… Satisfaction (at least a temporary boost) guaranteed!”) go to:http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/images/TimeMagazine/Time-Happiness.pdf

[Thanks to Brian Johnson whose PhilosophersNotes on Martin Seligman’s books Authentic Happiness & Learned Optimism inspired my investigation of this topic.]

The Science of Happiness: Part 2, Some Fun Stuff

“… positive psychology suggests we can … actually re-wire our brains to be more optimistic. … and positive psychologists say we could make ourselves 10-15% happier.” — Mark Easton reporting for BBC Two’s The Happiness Formula

This is Part 2 in a series of three posts on The Science of Happiness. In Part 1, A Little Theory, I recommended some resources that provided a somewhat academic overview (including the origins) of the the Science of Happiness. In Part 3, Train Yourself to Be Happy, we’ll get into specific steps you can take to train yourself to be happier. In this Part (Some Fun Stuff) we highlight some of the resources available from the website supporting the BBC Series, The Happiness Formula. To be fair, the resources recommended here aren’t so much wild and crazy fun as they are entertaining and well-produced, in the typical BBC fashion.


The Happiness Formula, an online resource from BBC News, is an entertaining collection of articles and videos that you can ramble through and get a sense of some of the different dimensions of the new Science of Happiness. Here are some the materials available:

* The Science of Happiness (an overview of the field and the BBC series)
* Britain’s Decline in Happiness (What’s happened since the ’50s to contribute to the decline in Happiness in Britain… Much of this will sound familiar to many Americans!)
* The Politics of Happiness (Should governments try to improve happiness of their citizens?)
* Test Your Happiness (Take a test designed by psychologist & Professor Ed Diener from the University of Illinois.)
* What Makes You Happy? (Pictures and testimonials submitted by ordinary people express what makes them happy.)
* Is There a Happiness Formula? (?? Pleasure + engagement + meaning = happiness. ??)
* Happiness & Public Policy
* Searching the Brain for Happiness (What neuroscientists are discovering.)
* Does Diversity Make Us Unhappy? (“… multicultural communities tend to be less trusting and less happy.”)
* Does Happiness Live in Cyberspace? (“Will the internet make the world a happier or less happy place?”)
* Scientists’ Short-Cut to Happiness (“…ways to control happiness in the brain artificially.”)
* The Health Benefits of Happiness (It may be even more important than quitting smoking!)
* Staying Happier for Longer (How to increase lasting happiness.)
* Happiness is Smile Shaped (Research traces levels of happiness throughout life.)
* The Undervalued Component of Happiness (What’s the role of contentment?)

* The recipe for happiness (8:07 min)
* What is happiness (2:26 min)
* The power of happiness (10:40 min)
* What really motivates us? (2:06 min)
* Bhutan’s happiness formula (8:39 mins)
* The politics of happiness (10:27 mins)
* Think yourself happy (3:13 mins)

Find Out More – A reading list related to the Science of Happiness

This website provides lots of interesting content. And it’s presented in a light-hearted, though well-documented, journalistic format. If this stuff doesn’t spark your interest in the Science of Happiness, then you’re just not paying attention!

URL — http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/happiness_formula/

[Thanks to Brian Johnson whose PhilosophersNotes on Martin Seligman’s books Authentic Happiness & Learned Optimism inspired my investigation of this topic.]

The Science of Happiness: Part 1, A Little Theory

…scientists now believe happiness is a skill that can be learned, just like skiing or playing a musical instrument: With daily practice, you get ever better.” (from Willing Your Way to Happiness,” DenverPost online)

If you’re like me, when you first hear people talking about taking charge of their own happiness, you think of Al Franken’s wacky new-age SNL character Stuart Smalley, who repeatedly chanted to himself, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” Not long ago such “positive affirmations” were touted as one of many keys to happiness by a pop-psychology press overflowing with slickly packaged little books that were guaranteed to change your life. And while their hearts were in the right place, many of these authors had little or no scientific basis for the practices they were recommending.

In recent years, however, the Science of Happiness has emerged as part of the field of Positive Psychology. Today, Harvard educators teach overflowing classes on the subject to academic groups all over the world. And the University of Pennsylvania offers a Masters degree in the field. As you’ll see if you follow the links in this series, there is a solid and growing body of science to support this simple assertion: You can train yourself to be happier. 


This is the first in a 3-part series of posts: The Science of Happiness. This Part (Part 1, A Little Theory) is for all you skeptics that are saying to yourselves, “This is a crock!!” It provides some links to resources that will acquaint you with some of the science related to happiness. (You can skip this part if you don’t need any convincing about the field’s legitimacy.) In Part 2, Some Fun Stuff, I’ll provide some links to some more entertaining information… stuff that’s less focused on scientific evidence and more on getting you motivated to learn about happiness and how you might achieve it. In Part 3, Train Yourself to Be Happy, I’ll provide an overview and some links to specific steps you can take to train yourself to be happy — And yes, it’s really just a matter of training!

I became interested in the Science of Happiness as a result of banging together three ideas that, for me at least, were fairly compelling news. These ideas are:
1) Researchers using MRI have been able to isolate the portions of the brain that are related to happiness and watch them in operation, in real time.
2) We’ve learned that the brain is plastic. Throughout our lives, we can make actual physical changes to the brain’s structure depending on how we use it or what we ask our brains to focus on.
3) The new Science of Happiness (based on Positive Psychology) is developing some science-based tools and methods to enable us to train our brains to help create more happiness in our lives.

Stimulated by these ideas, I began poking around a little more and came across this amazing finding: The left pre-frontal cortex of the brain — the place where we experience positive emotions — can be physically increased in size after 8 weeks of training in mindfulness meditation or even mindful yoga. (This essentially tells me that meditators have bigger happiness muscles!) Then there’s this finding: People who experience more positive emotions have more antibodies in their immune system.(Whoa! That’s very cool, indeed!)

But rather than my rehashing what I’ve been discovering, I’d like to share a couple of great resources that you can investigate for yourself. The first is an article in Harvard magazine. Here’s a couple of quotes from that article about the origin of the broader field of Positive Psychology which has spawned the new Science of Happiness:

“For much of its history, psychology has seemed obsessed with human failings and pathology. The very idea of psychotherapy, first formalized by Freud, rests on a view of human beings as troubled creatures in need of repair….A watershed moment arrived in 1998, when University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman, in his presidential address to the American Psychological Association, urged psychology to “turn toward understanding and building the human strengths to complement our emphasis on healing damage…That speech launched today’s positive psychology movement…The University of Pennsylvania offers a master’s degree in the field. International growth, too, is strong… Though not denying humanity’s flaws, the new tack of positive psychologists recommends focusing on people’s strengths and virtues as a point of departure…Their lab experiments might seek to define not the conditions that induce depraved behavior, but those that foster generosity, courage, creativity, and laughter.”

– from The Science of Happiness: Psychology Explores Humans at Their Best by Craig Lambert in a Harvard Magazine online article:http://harvardmagazine.com/2007/01/the-science-of-happiness.html

The above article is a great overview of the field and includes interviews with both leaders in the field and friendly critics, as well as lots of links to their books and book reviews. It’s a good introduction to the Science of Happiness.

You can get more good introductory material by attending (virtually, of course!) a free 2-hour seminar titled Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness with Tal Ben-Shahar, instructor of psychology at Harvard. In this seminar, Ben-Shahar provides a fairly entertaining, yet research-based, overview of the Science of Happiness, weaving together findings from research studies with examples of how these findings may be applied in relationships and your work life. And he even throws in a few fun experiential exercises to help make the concepts real. The seminar is available in video, audio, or MP3 download from the WBGH Forum Network. Here’s the URL:http://forum.wgbh.org/wgbh/forum.php?lecture_id=3283

These two sources will provide you with good overviews of the solid research and theories behind The Science of Happiness. In the next Part of this series, Some Fun Stuff, I’ll share some web-based resources that will get you a little more involved and motivate you to tackle the resources in Part 3, Train Yourself to Be Happy.

[Thanks to Brian Johnson whose PhilosophersNotes on Martin Seligman’s books Authentic Happiness & Learned Optimism inspired my investigation of this topic.]