Tag Archives: courage

Living beyond limits

I recently watched an interview with Amy Purdy on Oprah Winfrey’s show SuperSoulSunday and immediately purchased her new biography On My Own Two Feet.  Amy Purdy’s story of how she fought her way back to happiness after contracting meningitis at 19 is really remarkable.  Amy fought for her life in hospital for several months and lost both legs below the knee as a result of the illness, her ruptured spleen was removed and her father eventually gave her a kidney for her 21st birthday to replace her damaged kidney. Amy chose to embrace what is possible despite many months in hospital and aimed to be back on the slopes to practice her beloved sport of snowboarding within months of her illness.

Amy went on to become a Paralympic bronze medallist in snowboarding and to be a finalist in Dancing with the Stars (the US equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing) in which she changed her foot design according to the dance she was performing. Amy has also… Read the rest...

On The Happiness Experiment Bookshelf – my 20 favourite books in 2014

2014 has been the year of books.  I have probably devoured more books than I have hot dinners thanks, in part, to my Masters course in positive psychology. This list is a reflection of some of the topics I have been studying such as willpower, the mind body connection, the importance of exercise and nutrition to wellbeing and personal and visionary courage. I would recommend them all to the general reader as I have learned from and been inspired by all the books I have read. In no particular order of preference here is my list for 2014:

1. The UltraMind Solution: fix your broken brain by healing your body first

the ultramind solution

This is a really fascinating book by Dr Mark Hyman about the importance of food as medicine which looks at how what we choose to put in to our body affects both our physical and mental well-being. It is a great introduction to the concept of functional medicine in which the body and brain are all part of one interconnected system which needs to be viewed… Read the rest...

Ordinary won’t change the world

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to a talk by endurance swimmer, Lewis Pugh at an event organised by Steppes Travel.  It was an inspiring evening filled with life lessons as well as life stories.

Lewis Pugh told us how, growing up, he had always been inspired by stories of people such as Sir Edmund Hillary or Neil Armstrong who are not afraid of their dreams and are willing to take on challenges which get them excited. The three stories Lewis told us of swimming in the coldest, highest and most beautiful places in the world were a perfect illustration that he is equally not afraid to dream but is also willing to turn his dreams into action.

While working as a maritime lawyer, a job rather than a passion, Lewis frequently holidayed in and fell in love with Norway in general and the North Cape in particular. After several cold water swims in Norwegian waters Lewis became obsessed with the idea of swimming in the Artic at the North Pole. A close friend,… Read the rest...

Happiness: the mind/body connection

The more I learn about the science of positive psychology and well-being the more I become intrigued about the connection between mind and body.  This is an area of well-being which deserves more attention and which researchers are starting to take more seriously.  There are two women, in particular, who stand out for me as strong advocates of a health care system in which people are encouraged to take responsibility for their own well-being in cooperation with understanding doctors who practice integrative medicine.  The first is Dr Lissa Rankin and the second is Kris Carr the well-known wellness activist and cancer thriver.

Dr Lissa Rankin is one of the most well known protagonists of the mind/body connection having learned herself the hard way that you ignore both aspects of your health at your peril.  Lissa has written a fascinating book called Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself and she blogs regularly on … Read the rest...

Part 4 of A Declaration of Courage – 366 Days of Kindness

As I continue with my month of courage, in which I try out things which take me out of my comfort zone, one of the things I decided to do was to attend events which interested me even if none of my friends were available to join me.  Although I would quite happily go for a coffee alone or travel abroad alone for some reason I had a fixed mindset when it came to going to the theatre or an event on my own.  A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and went to the theatre on my own to see the brilliant 366 Days of Kindness show at Stratford Circus Theatre.

The show was written and performed by Bernadette Russell and Gareth Brierley and tells the story of Bernadette’s quest to practice an act of kindness every day for a year starting on 18th August 2011. If you get a chance to see the show, it is currently touring until May 2014.  It struck me while watching the show that Bernadette was actually pretty courageous so I thought she would be a great person to … Read the rest...

A Declaration of Courage – Part 3 Show your true colours

John Legend: “True Colours”

In part 3 of this series on courage we look at what courage is and what courage is not. Courage is more complicated than it initially appears and also differs from individual to individual. Something that constitutes an immense act of courage for one person may require no courage for another.  Sometimes courage is simply abut being willing to show your true colours.

Nelson Mandela gave this sage advice: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”   This quote teaches us about one of the great misconceptions about courageous people.  We assume that someone who is courageous does not feel fear in the way other people do. The fact is that we all experience fear but the courageous person chooses to tolerate their fear and take action anyway.


A Declaration of Courage – Part 2

I am continuing with my month of courage which is part part of a project I am working on for my Masters in Applied Positive Psychology.   Courage is one of the positive psychology interventions (PPIs) I am experimenting with to see how applying this strength can boost my wellbeing.

In researching courage I have learned a great deal from the book by Robert Biswas-Diener called The Courage QuotientRobert Biswas-Diener know as the “Indiana Jones of positive psychology” has travelled far and wide to countries such as Greenland, India, Kenya and Israel to investigate whether courage is a trait we are born with or a skill which can be learned.  He discovered that courage is a culturally desirable trait which can be both measured and learned.  In cultures in which a premium is placed on bravery, it is more likely that parents will focus on teaching their children how to be courageous. In comparison to parenting styles in other … Read the rest...

A Declaration of Courage: Part 1

Newton Faulkner- Dream Catch Me

This week I had the pleasure of attending a Newton Faulkner concert at The Roundhouse in London. The concert was fantastic and it was such a joy to witness a musician in his prime, doing something he was born to do and appearing to be completely in flow. Newton poured himself a cup of tea from a red teapot between songs and we were left to speculate whether the content of the teapot actually was tea or whether it contained some kind of “Dutch courage”.  Newton appeared to be enjoying himself so much on stage that it would be surprising if he did need “Dutch courage” but it is impossible for an outsider to always know when an individual is performing an act of courage or not. Newton Faulkner sang many songs from his more recent albums but also sang his hit Dream Catch Me which contains the following lyrics:

“There’s a place I go,

When I’m alone,

Do anything I want,

Be anyone I want toRead the rest...

5 Characteristics Of Grit – How Many Do You Have?


TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit

This excellent article from Forbes magazine by Margaret M. Perlis looks at the important topic of grit in detail.  It’s a long article so you may need grit to get through it, but it’s definitely worth a read.

Recently some close friends visited, both of whom have worked in education with adolescents for over 40 years. We were talking about students in general and when I asked what has changed with regards to the character of kids, in unison they said “grit” – or more specifically, lack thereof. There seems to be growing concern among teachers that kids these days are growing soft.

When I took a deeper dive, I found that what my friends have been observing in-the-field, researchers have been measuring in the lab. The role grit plays in success has become a topic du jour, spearheaded by Angela Duckworth, who was catapulted to the forefront of the field after delivering

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Resilience personified: 15 amazing people who have bounced back from setbacks

This fascinating article by  from The Huffington Post lists 15 very diverse people who all have one thing in common – their ability to bounce back from what life throws at them.  Read and be inspired.

15 Wildly Successful People Who Overcame Huge Obstacles To Get There

You’ve heard it before: “If at first you don’t succeed, try again.” Sometimes you may feel like that’s just a saying, but it is absolutely not. The 15 incredible stories below show how even horrible tragedies and setbacks can be help fuel a drive for success. From Oprah Winfrey‘s scarred childhood to Bill Gates‘ failed business ventures, these people have been through the grinder, and came out even better than before. Their stories stress one of the most important lessons of all: Never ever give up. Scroll through the list for some serious inspiration. Bill Gates’ first business failed. Yes, the
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