´ Brainfood Blog -
February 11, 2018

This episode is mostly for professionals and students in positive psychology, HR or management. We can produce the best research in the world but if we don’t go where the majority of the worlds’ attention is heading, it will not matter how good we are. Whenever something new comes along, like say the internet, smartphones or even the teabag people always repeat the same reasons why it’s stupid, irrelevant or dangerous (There is actually a fantastic podcast that covers this topic called The Pessimists’ Archive). Then once mass adoption hits they play catch up and try to be seen in a sea of millions (Good luck starting an app in the Appstore in 2018).

That’s why I hugely respect what CAPP has done. They have combined the technology of virtual reality with their expertise of personality assessment to come up with a novel product that I believe a lot of HR people will start to use in the near future. Even if you are not interested in virtual reality in itself this episode is worth listening to, as Jamie Betts explains not only, how this assessment works and why virtual reality is important, but how these kind of innovations get rolling in the first place. It’s very possible that you as a researcher, executive or tech geek might get some cool ideas how to implement the ideas we talk about in your own work.

If you are a positive psychology professional or researcher I implore you to invest 5-10% of your attention to understand where the future is going and how you can get your message across in that environment. This episode is a good starting point for that.





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January 21, 2018

Certain ideas keep coming up again and again, no matter what topic we cover in the podcast. These seven concepts let you take a step back and focus on the meta ideas which help you leverage whatever kind of personal growth you are aspiring to.

If you have tried a few times to change your thoughts, but have lacked the structure and recurring practice to do it, check out Brainwash.


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December 15, 2017

If you take 1000 people who experienced the same difficult life event, chances are that 100 of those people are doing surprisingly well. Optimism and a growth mindset are not about denying that difficult things happen. It’s about asking what those 100 people are doing differently so they can flourish, despite what is happening. You can apply this logic to everything by asking yourself: what would it look like to grow in this situation? What can I let go of and what could I double-down on to make things better? We all have the right to stay within the confines of misery that is familiar to us. Sometimes that’s even comforting. However an optimist believes that with some effort, things can be better than that. And that’s worth trying something new.

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December 14, 2017

Did you ever catch yourself thinking that an optimistic person is annoying? Today I’d like to challenge that belief. Maybe what is annoying is the sense that these people are not authentic. So ask yourself this question: is it impossible to generally expect good things but still be truthful? Not such a huge contradiction, right? For now, whenever you find yourself thinking that someone happy is annoying, get curious: what kind of thoughts are you thinking? Are these thoughts one hundred percent true? You might discover, that it’s not the other person that is annoying.

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December 13, 2017

Today I want you to think about something that is truly sparse and yet we squander it all the time. What if you would save your attention as diligently as you save your money? Most of us don’t spend on every little impulse we have. We know that the dollars are finite. Yet actually, at least in theory, there is no limit to how much money a person can make. However no matter what they do, even billionaires can’t increase the attention they have to give. All they and we can do is to make better decisions about how we spend this attention. What you focus on influences hugely what you think about everything. Act accordingly this week.

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December 12, 2017

The researcher Matthew Smith suggested that you should go luck yourself. It means that you should start seeing yourself as a lucky person. Imagine you are walking along a road and you find twenty bucks on the floor. This is what happened to some of the study participant in an interesting experiment. However only the people who saw themselves as lucky found the money. Their brain was expecting good things so it picked up on the money whereas the pessimists rushed past the money and never found it. Optimists don’t necessarily have more opportunities, they just seize them. So go luck yourself today!


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December 12, 2017

Research shows that a huge majority of the things we worry about never turn out as bad as we think it will. We are not only wasting mental energy, we are not putting it where we could get more bang for our buck. Today I would like to suggest, that you consider adopting a generalized optimistic mindset. That means that unless you have evidence that contradicts an optimistic interpretation of events, you assume that people do their best. Mistakes happen to everyone and fretting usually doesn’t help solve the problem. Your doubts and pessimism don’t have to be banned but instead applied selectively: when you are in actual physical or psychological danger it is crucial to respect your fears and even your anger. They might be pointing at something that is actually wrong. However if you take this challenge, you will not just let negativity pass through your brain unquestioned and unfiltered. Even if it has a purpose we can often think of different ways to express and act on these things. Doing this helps us reap the benefits of a realistic optimism without falling prey to real danger.

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December 2, 2017

Fantasizing about our best self can help us take a step back, connect with our potential and draw from that inspiration. Going even more specific helps us to liberate thoughts we might not otherwise have. When you think about your most important relationships what kind of person do you want to be ? What kind of friend, partner or work colleague would you be if you were able to express the best in you? Today you don’t have to think about how to make that vision real. Today is reserved for unadulterated day-dreaming with a little exaggeration cherry on the top. You could write it down or ask Alexa to keep a list about this. Have fun.

Tomorrow we will recap the whole relationship week.

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December 1, 2017

Other people can be a quick-fix to happiness: they can make us laugh, feel safe and if we’re lucky even ecstatic. All of these things are wonderful but they bear a dangerous seed: that we use other people as an easy way out. When someone makes us happy we might not feel a deep need to learn happiness habits such as meditating, getting enough fresh air or learning new things to keep growing. One person can replace all of those things and that usually does not stay that way forever. Once things fade a little bit and our happiness levels go down it’s very tempting to blame the other person. If they behaved differently we would still be perfectly happy. Except it’s not really fair towards them. People making us happy is a bonus. When we take the responsibility for our own happiness and see everything that comes from others as a wonderful encore we take a huge burden out of our relationships. Nobody can do this 100% of the time. But we can try to get better at it.

If you have another few minutes to invest in your happiness skills why not check-out the Positive Psychology Podcast? Just say “Play the Positive Psychology Podcast”

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November 30, 2017

The psychologist Car Rogers invented a radical new approach: instead of trying to figure out what was true, what the patient was hiding and whether he was getting the full picture, he would just assume from the beginning, that the client was a good person. There was no need to prove anything. Instead the client would get validated for his feelings and was given the space to become a different person. We can borrow this technique and see what happens. Today I want you to assume that every single person you meet is good. If you can’t see the goodness immediately all that means is that it’s hidden from you, not that it’s non-existent. What do you notice that you otherwise wouldn’t have picked up on? How do you feel when treating people that way?

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November 28, 2017

Think back to a situation where someone told you about something that went really well for them. How did you respond? I will give you four options:

  1. That’s nice honey.
  2. That’s cool honey, so how did it happen? And then what? Why do you think that?
  3. Anyway what’s for dinner?
  4. Oh man, does that mean I will see you even less? Goodbye work-life balance.

Saying just “that’s nice” is what is known as a positive passive response. Often we think we said something nice but actually we deny the possibility that the happiness can be expanded and shared.

Asking further questions and allowing someone to elaborate on their happy event brings most happiness to both parties. If you are feeling brave you could try it today.

Negative passive means that you immediately distract and not even acknowledge the good thing. It makes people less likely to share things with you.

Active negative means that the event is immediately torpedoed. It’s the most destructive way of responding to someone. If you recognize yourself in this swapping an active negative for a positive response, even a passive positive one, could improve your relationships dramatically.

Take whatever possibility you have today to expand on other people’s successes.

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November 27, 2017

People who have deeper conversations are happier than those who stick to the surface. People sometimes wonder about what they should say to make real conversations happen. It is actually less about what you say and more about the environment you create.

Today, without putting the pressure on yourself to have a meaningful conversation, just give some of these suggestions a try: spend more time in one to one conversations than in groups. Groups can be fun but often conversations go to things like who is doing what at the office or some other topic that is superficial enough to not freak people out.

Listen without feeling the need to respond. Often when we think we are listening we are just waiting for our turn to speak. Listen in a way so that you will be able to remember what they said. Then actually think about what they said afterwards because that makes it more likely that you will remember.

Eliminate the likelihood that you will be distracted: plan enough time so you don’t have to rush off immediately. Don’t have your phone in your hand or on the table. Switch off the sound and the vibrate function.

Everything we do speaks silently to other people: one to one time means that you think they are important enough to spend time with. Listening means that you value their perspective. And ruling out distractions says “I don’t want this flow to break unless the conversation has run its course.”

Good luck building lots of little pockets of trust.

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November 26, 2017

Today we conclude the body week. We talked about connecting to the joy of moving. We discussed all the things your body is doing right now from cleaning your blood to sending billions of signals. You hopefully tried to find several reasons to move and not just because the doctor told you to. We talked about the stages of self-love and how we can’t jump from hate to love in one step. If you feel self-loathing I hope you managed to confine it to scheduled times like we talked about. We also discussed an alternative way to compare yourself by really getting to the bottom of your thoughts. And finally we touched on how patience, which is particularly hard in our instant-everything world, can make everything better.

Next week we will talk about relationships.

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November 25, 2017

We are conditioned to get everything now. While it’s pleasant to live in world like that it can lower our ability to deal with things that take time. We know that patience would be good but we often don’t know how to go about it besides just waiting. If we just wait we zoom in on the feeling that things are not moving fast enough. It’s a frustrating feeling.

Instead let’s acknowledge what needs to happen so the desired change can take place: repetition is a mechanism to prevent one-off events from triggering unhelpful changes. Imagine if we could all lose weight by skipping one or two meals. Sounds great. Except if food is scarce and all your energy reserves instantly drop off. You could die in an environment where food isn’t plenty. Repetition signals to your body that the situation really has changed and adaptation is necessary. Similarly your brain doesn’t let you remember everything you encounter. If it did you would have flashbacks of strangers twiddling their thumbs. It would be hard to sort through all of those meaningless things you saw once to come to the important parts. Patience is easier when you know that the time between you starting and you getting what you want is a necessary part of the process.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

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November 24, 2017

If you are interested in happiness and motivation you have probably been told, to not compare yourself with others. You know it makes you unhappy and yet it’s really hard to stop, isn’t it? So let’s try a different way of comparing instead. Next time you think “I wish I had that six-pack” ask yourself why. “Why do I want that six-pack?”. “Because it looks great and I will be happy walking around shirtless. “Who else already has a six-pack?” “Is each and every one of them happy every day?” “Are there other ways to attain happiness in life?” “Are you willing to measure what you eat, adhere to a strict meal plan and work out every single day for the next three years?” “If yes stop and start right now.” “If not why are you wasting your time, instead of dreaming about something you are actually willing to work for?”

Comparison can be many things: it can make us unhappy. It can make us believe we want things we are actually not willing to work for. But it can also signal that something is truly important to us. If it really is, we will not flake out of doing the work.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

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November 23, 2017

We are often told to love our bodies. For many people the gap between self-loathing and self-love is too great to take in one stride. Let’s think of it in steps instead: we can move daily self-hate into less frequent self-hate. One trick is to schedule our self-hate. Whenever it comes up when we see ourselves in a mirror we can say the following to ourselves: now is not the time for self-hate. We have scheduled that for tomorrow at 7 pm. At the allotted time actually show up for your self-hate session. You are not allowed to do anything else during that time. While this may sound strange what we are doing is confining our self-hate to a narrow slot in time.

“What would it sound like if I felt neutral about my body?” Your next step is to become like Switzerland: neutral to the core. If this is too hard ask instead: “what does someone sound like who neither hates nor loves themselves?”. If you want you can decorate your mirror with Swiss flags or pictures of cheese to keep you on track.

The next step would be to ask: “what would someone sound like who accepts themselves?” They don’t have to think they are stunningly beautiful but okay with what they are. Try to be accepting of yourself for ten seconds, the thirty and then a minute.

Your body is a great instrument to teach you self-acceptance and maybe even self-love. Use it.

Tomorrow we will talk about constructive comparison.


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November 22, 2017

Very often we start running or working out for one reason: we want to lose weight or our doctor scared us into submission. When we have only one reason for doing something we are setting ourselves up for failure. If that one thing that we are hoping for doesn’t happen fast we give up. If we don’t drop the pounds or lower the blood pressure it seems worthless.

I want you to move because doing so makes you proud. I want you to move because you enjoy how your inactive muscles sigh in relief at being used. I want you to move because you might meet some cool people you can have a good time with. I want you to move so you are outside more. I want you to move so you can feel truly grateful that your body works, no matter what level you are at. I want you to feel the pride of being able to lift something you couldn’t move two months ago. I want you to keep your eyes open for more and more reasons why the things that are good for you are worth doing. And if that is the case you have a better shot at persevering even if you don’t immediately get the main thing you wanted.

If you never exercise tell Alexa to remind you to do 2 minutes of exercise every day. Nobody, not even the Pope, does not have two minutes to spare. Set a daily reminder.

Tune-in tomorrow for a flash briefing about self-love.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

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November 21, 2017

Your body is creating millions of red blood cells right now. Your heart is beating, you are pumping gallons of blood through your system and you are growing skin cells. Your brain is sorting through millions of visual cues and your brain is sending billions of signals. This is not an exaggeration. Your kidney is cleaning your blood and your hair and nails are growing. This is just a tiny fraction of what is going on in your body and most of us never ever think about it unless something goes wrong. Do you realize that even a tiny hitch in all of these processes could cause you serious problems? Even if you are in pain or sick right now there is so much happening in your body that is working great.

I encourage you to think about all of these miraculous things happening right now instead of focusing on what you don’t like about yourself. Don’t give up on trying if it’s hard. You are used to a certain way of thinking about yourself. If you stop you will be like a piano player who stops to play: you get slower, less intense and eventually big parts of negativity fade away.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

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November 20, 2017

Welcome to body week. Our body is often viewed through the lens of what others see when they look at us. Let’s kick this week off by taking pleasure in what we can do with our body. Again it’s tempting to judge what we can do by other people’s standards. The great thing is that you can access good feelings right now. If you are fit you might need to do fifty push-ups before you feel that pleasant muscle tingling and increased blood flow everywhere. If you are not very fit you can still do one or even half a push-up. Maybe it’s a brisk walk. Nobody cares. Doesn’t it feel nice? Kids are great role models when it comes to this. They grin like someone has drugged their cookies when they can walk a few steps. Of course you can choose to take it for granted that you can move. I implore you, not to wait for an injury to teach you the great freedom of being able to move.

Ask Alexa to remind you tonight before bed to remember the body positive moments of your day.

Tomorrow we will talk about zeroing in on what we don’t like about our bodies.

Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next? You can listen right now by saying Play The Positive Psychology Podcast.

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November 19, 2017

This week we talked about developing a growth mindset. You paid attention to all the work people around you have to put in to succeed. Hopefully you experienced the positive effects of that mental generosity. Next we made sure that you enjoy many shots at experiencing happiness instead of putting it off until you reach some specific outcome. By loving the process you have many opportunities to feel good right now. We also talked about the magic expression NOT YET. I haven’t succeeded at this yet. I am not where I thought I would be yet. And finally we discussed the necessity to let go of beating ourselves up and instead quitting well. If you did some or all of these thought exercises I am proud of you. If not I am not proud of you Yet but I know that next week when we talk about the body you will have new opportunities to come along for the ride.

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