“The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination, and the energy to get started.” Norman Cousins
A very interesting theory I have discovered in the science of positive psychology is hope theory. C.R. Snyder spent many years researching the theory of hope and its benefits to well-being. Hope is not just wishful thinking or optimisim in the way we say “I hope I will win the lottery.” Hope is a belief that we can change the future for the better, or reach our desired goals. Hope keeps us moving forward when the going gets tough, and helps us to “get back on the horse” when we fall off. According to Snyder’s theory, hopeful thinking is made up of 3 key elements:
Goals – thinking in a goal-oriented way.
Pathways – finding different ways to achieve your goals.
There is a lot of research in the literature on positive psychology about the benefits of mindfulness for well-being and stress reduction. All the evidence-based benefits in the world will make no difference to you at all unless you give it a try. According to Andy Puddicombe from Headspace just 10 mindful minutes can make a huge difference. Watch his TED talk and try a little bit of mindfulness for yourself. You can sign up to a free trial 10 day mindful programme on the Headspace website here.
Andy Puddicombe TED talk: All i takes is 10 mindful minutes
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:
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...
Today’s blog post features an interview with Tim LeBon, whose lectures made me finally put in to practice what I had been reading about the science of positive psychology. As well as being a registered psychotherapist, Tim runs a popular 10 week introductory course to positive psychology at City university, starting in October which I would highly recommend. Tim has recently published a new book on how you can use positive psychology to achieve your potential and although I have read numerous books on the subject this is a welcome addition to my positive psychology library. As Tim has particular interests in CBT and philosophy, his new book includes chapters on these subjects and he addresses how to take a wise approach to the application of positive psychology as well as writing a very clear chapter by chapter explanation, with case studies, on what positive psychology is all about. Enjoy the interview.
I have just finished a very interesting book called Radical Remission by Dr. Kelly Turner which looks at cases of people who have made seemingly miraculous recoveries from cancer, when medical knowledge suggested that there was little ground for hope. I first became aware of Dr Turner’s work when I watched her interview with cancer thriver Kris Carr. You can watch the interview here. Dr Turner has interviewed over a thousand people who have survived cancer against the odds. When reading her research, I was struck by the similarities between the top 9 factors which contributed to the healing of cancer patients and the teachings of positive psychology science.
Radical Remission is broken down into 9 chapters which look at the main contributing factors to remission common to all:
Although this blog is all about trying out experiments I have to admit that I have never been particularly fascinated by science. Usually when I am learning about something new and a conversation gets to the science part, that is when I switch off and stop paying attention. I have always been curious about many things but never about science. I have never wanted to know how something works, it was enough for me to know that it did. So why has the science of positive psychology piqued my interest when other branches of science have left me cold?
Firstly my studies of positive psychology have taught me that happiness is not a spectator sport. There are many daily actions we can take to increase our well-being and happiness and by basing these actions on scientifically tested measures we are much more likely to see a significant difference in our lives.
Secondly the science of positive psychology has taught me that happiness is a choice and we can … Read the rest...
My only regret about going on my summer holidays this week is that I will miss the next two instalments of Channel 4′s Shed of the Year programme presented by architect George Clarke. The science of positive psychology has long debated whether hedonism (a life devoted to pleasure seeking) versus eudaimonia (a life devoted to meaning) are the main routes to happiness. It turns out science was wrong – what has been missing in our lives is more shedonism!
As I watched the first instalment of the programme which you can catch up on here I couldn’t help but wonder how the humble shed got to be so sexy! The amazing creativity which the finalists had poured in to the construction of their sheds was breathtaking. Whether you choose to label the “sheddies” as maverick eccentrics or creative geniuses there is no denying their passion for creating a unique space of their own.
I have always been an avid reader but since starting my formal studies of positive psychology on the MAPP course at UEL my reading list has increased astronomically. This makes the challenge of narrowing down my favourite book list of 2013 to just 20 all the harder. As in my previous 2012 Top 20 book list not all of the books were newly published in 2013 but all the books were new to me. If you think there are any books which should have made it on to the list but didn’t please let me know. Which books would be on your Top 20 list?
In no particular order here are my Top 20 books of 2013:
Like many people I have spent today taking down the Christmas tree, tidying the house, completing my tax return and generally trying to prepare myself psychologically for a New Year back at work and continuing with my MAPP studies at UEL. I am really looking forward to 2014 but usually start the year with a host of New Year resolutions under my belt. My busy year and the hectic Christmas period have left me with little time for reflection on what my resolutions for this year should be. I thought it was worthwhile pondering the question of whether New Year resolutions actually matter. Janus, the Roman God of beginnings and transitions after whom the month of January (Ianuarius) was named, seems like a good starting point. Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, as he looks to the future and to the past. Reflecting on what has gone well in 2013 and celebrating personal successes… Read the rest...
“Sweet are the uses of adversity” William Shakespeare in As You Like It.
Adversity struck the UK yesterday in the shape of a freak storm which caused incredible damage and destruction as it swept across the south of the country on its way to Scandinavia. Apart from a slightly wobbly garden fence and a few shattered plant pots I was very lucky to have escaped unscathed. Others were not so fortunate.
Adversity did strike me personally in that I was unable to attend Malcolm Gladwell’s talk about his new book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants at The Lyceum Theatre last night as all the train lines to London were down. I knew that Malcolm Gladwell was an excellent story teller, as I had previously seen him in London during the launch of his book Outliers, but my evening out was not to be. Ironically overcoming adversity is the topic of Malcolm Gladwell’s new book and I am eager… Read the rest...