Tag Archives: resilience

Happiness Experiment No 40: do something creative

I’m a big fan of creativity, and I am often sad when I hear people say “I’m just not creative.”  Anyone can be creative and it has huge health benefits, increasing resilience and reducing stress for example.  We don’t need to be the next Picasso or have the genius of Mozart to be creative. Small actions every day count. This short video from Happier.com explains how and why you should get creative:


The website Happify have created a great Infographic on the science of creativity which you can find here.  It will give you further inspiration on how to get your creative mojo working.  One of my favourite books on creativity is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – it’s a 12 step recovery programme for people who have lost their creativity.  I learn something new every time I read it and I would recommend working with Julia in person if you get the opportunity.  Julia is coming to London later… Read the rest...

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...

A philosophy for a happy life

The Happiness Experiment has previously featured some amazingly resilient people such as Giles Duley who continued to work as a photographer despite sustaining horrific injuries and losing limbs and Janine Shepherd a cross country skier who broke her back and neck and learned to walk again.  Chris Johnstone who runs resilience workshops recently wrote an interesting article in Positive News about the importance of collecting resilience stories to inspire us when we also have to face adversity.  In the Positive News article, Chris mentions that he asks participants on his course to talk about people who have inspired them using a 4 part story structure:

1) This is a story about…..

2) The adversity faced is…

3) What helps here is….

4) And that leads to…..

Using this structure let me introduce you to Sam Berns who has faced the adversity of dealing with the rare disease progeria.  What helped Sam was to develop … 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...

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...

Shiny, happy people in Amsterdam


A shiny, happy person in an Amsterdam flea market.

Last week I had the good fortune to attend the 7th European Conference on Positive Psychology (ECPP) in the beautiful city of Amsterdam.  Apart from a great opportunity to get together with some of my fellow MAPP students from London, the conference was also an opportunity to meet other MAPP students from around the world and to hear some of the best known researchers in the field talk about their work.  The conference was held at Beurs van Berlage, a stunning venue in central Amsterdam, which was to be our refuge for the duration of the week until we emptied out in to the bustling streets of Amsterdam each evening to digest the contents of the day’s lectures and workshops.

So what do 900 plus positive psychologist do for a week when they are couped up in a beautiful building apart from repeatedly sing Pharrell William’s Happy song? A lot of serious scientific stuff actually (although … Read 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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Sweet are the uses of adversity

“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...

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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21 Habits of Supremely Happy People

This article by  which was published in The Huffington Post on 16th September is a great summary of some happiness habits which are definitely worth acquiring.  Enjoy!

happiness habits

Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, theorizes that while 60 percent of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, the remaining 40 percent is up to us.

In his 2004 Ted Talk, Seligman describes three different kinds of happy lives: The pleasant life, in which you fill your life with as many pleasures as you can, the life of engagement, where you find a life in your work, parenting, love and leisure and the meaningful life, which “consists of knowing what your highest strengths are, and using them to belong to and in the service of something larger than you are.”

After exploring what accounts for ultimate satisfaction, Seligman says he was surprised. The pursuit of pleasure, research determined, has hardly any contribution

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