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Category Archives: Other reflections

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.

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.

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.

November 18, 2017

Have you ever heard the quote “Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win“? Let’s talk about what would happen if this were actually true: people would still be playing in sandboxes and whipping each other with plastic shovels. Folks carry around a lot of unnecessary guilt about quitting. You don’t have to become the person who never quits. If you want to adopt a growth mindset you want to become good at quitting well. Let’s say you stopped going to the gym. Quitting badly would be to beat yourself up about it. Subconsciously you will associate going to the gym with feeling bad about yourself. This makes it less likely that you will go. Quitting well would be to try out indoor climbing, zumba and under-water rugby. Quitting well means you don’t stop moving even if you don’t go to the gym anymore.

Tomorrow is recap day so if you missed out this week, come back Sunday and listen to a summary.

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

November 17, 2017

Many waste precious time lamenting the times we did something wrong. This is actually a convenient excuse to not start with anything productive. Growth mindset on the other hand teaches us, that we get a new shot every day. Even if we have wasted the last couple of decades with a fixed mindset we can start with a growth mindset right now. Don’t get angry at yourself if you catch your mind berating you about the pass. This is a natural outcome that will eventually be reversed if you make a growth mindset your new habit. That means that you strive to make the best with whatever you have instead of giving up because you don’t have enough intelligence, money or well-connected friends. It means that you are mindful of the journey instead of doing things for the outcome only. With a growth mindset failures cause you to re-evaluate and take note of the lessons learned. Why not start today?

Tomorrow we will talk about winners who quit.

November 16, 2017

Wanting to constantly improve yourself is a great mindset except when it keeps you from enjoying your life. The need to always improve, to never stand still and only to be happy once you are the best can backfire. Do you have an activity in your life that you are happy with as it is? One that doesn’t need to be improved although you know exactly what the flaws are? What about a relationship? Growth mindset is a wonderful thing. Just make sure that you are not forgetting to enjoy and savour what you have. Otherwise we are running away from the fruits of our labour.

Tomorrow we will talk about something you get for free.


November 15, 2017

Today think about something where you didn’t give up but instead actually learned from the stumbles and failures along the way. What happened? How exactly did you do better next time around? Growth mindset teaches us to learn from everything, even if it did not turn out as planned. With a fixed mindset failure means we are not good enough. Maybe we should quit all together. Growth mindset says “I need to practice more. Perhaps I have to practice differently. I am not good enough yet.” Today tap into the power of NOT YET.

Tomorrow we will talk about growth mindset in overdrive.

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


November 14, 2017

Do you think some people are smart, others are not and nothing can be done about that? Do you think that talent or some other resource determines who is successful? If the answer is yes I have bad news for you: you lean towards a fixed mindset. The good news is that developing a so-called growth mindset is possible. People with a growth mindset are happier, persevere and are more likely to succeed.

Let’s start working on it right now: today focus on the work people put in to be successful. Even the smartest student has to read the material to excel. The most talented athlete still has to train for years to be in the top 100. Be generous today by acknowledging invisible effort. Notice how your reactions and thoughts change as a result. I believe in your capacity to grow.

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

November 13, 2017

Imagine two equally skilled athletes. Which one do you think scores more: the one who shoots three times or 30 times? What if I told you that most people behave like the athlete who shot only 3 times? Very often people value outcomes: the grades, the promotion and the recognition. In this case you can only be happy if you get exactly or more than you expected. Otherwise you will be unhappy. If you value the process you will enjoy reading the books, discussing the material with buddies, thinking the concepts through and working on the proposal. Before the person who only thinks about the outcome has even had one shot at happiness the process focused person with a growth mindset has already enjoyed several moments of happiness. Don’t limit your opportunities for happiness by focusing only on outcomes. Enjoy the ride.

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

November 12, 2017

Our brain pretends that there is only one reality out there: the one we perceive. We have evolved this way to make sure we can go about our life without being constantly overwhelmed. The downside is that if our brain is used to seeing the world with a rather negative lens it’s almost impossible to believe that things could be different. It takes effort to change the pathways your brain has created but it can be done. Imagine you had an assistant and that assistant has learned throughout the years what kind of information you react to and what you ignore. Your brain is exactly the same. You can retrain your brain to highlight more about the world that is good and meaningful and less about things that are annoying or sad. This doesn’t mean you ignore negativity. It means you choose wisely to focus only on negativity that you can do something about as opposed to feeling helpless.

If you want to take this one step further you could write some positive things down that you usually don’t pay attention to. When you have a moment, at a red light for example, recount those positive expressions and pay attention to how this makes you feel.

I wish you lots of positive emotions today. Why not check out the Positive Psychology Podcast next?

November 11, 2017

When we think of what would constitute a successful life a lot of it is based on conformity: get the career, the house, the partner and the fancy vacations and you will be happy. Let’s save time and assume that that path to happiness does not work. Instead I would like you to ask yourself these questions:

  • what has made me feel successful, not for a short time but over months or years?
  • what am I most proud of and would like to repeat in my life?
  • what can I do today that brings me closer to those real successes?

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

November 10, 2017

Meaning is constructed. No activity is in itself meaningful. You might think that a doctor surely does meaningful work but if you ask a doctor who has to pump the stomach of binge-drinking party peeps every weekend they might find it profoundly unsatisfying. Similarly there is no job you can think of that somebody is not proud of doing and feels that it’s important. Keeping that in mind what are the most meaningful aspects of your life? Do they get the time they deserve? If not can you prioritize engaging with these things regularly? Meaning can be in absolutely everything: how we spend our money, sustain ourselves, exercise, treat our co-workers or what we value. How can you act in accordance to something you feel is meaningful today?

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


November 9, 2017

You are smart enough to have figured out that relationships play a big role in our happiness. Today take note of the seven people you spend the most time with. On average for each person think about the following questions:

  • do they give you energy?
  • do they have no impact on you?
  • or do they drain your energy?

Based on what you find you can make an effort to spend more time with the energy-givers and less with those folks who you feel neutral about or who drain you.

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

November 8, 2017

We recently talked about the flourishing formula PERMA by Martin Seligman. The E stands for engagement. That’s the feeling you get when you are so engrossed in an activity that everything else ceases to exist. Your brain chatter, your biological urges and your sense of time fade away. This state is called flow. It happens when the challenge we are working on is hard but within our reach. If a task is too easy we get bored. If it’s too hard we feel anxious.

People who experience flow frequently are happier,  healthier and feel that their life is more meaningful.

Using your feelings of boredom, satisfaction and anxiousness take three minutes right now and think about what activities lead to flow. If you feel super bored about many activities consider how you could replace or modify the activity with something more challenging. If you feel anxious think about ways to break down the level of complexity. Good luck mentally optimizing your day for flow.

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

November 7, 2017

Positive emotions are crucial to our well-being. Let’s become happier by appreciating our full emotional spectrum. The psychologist Barbara Fredrickson found that positive emotions don’t just make you feel good now. They motivate you to engage in behaviours that lead to long-term positive outcomes. Today take the opportunity to spread positive emotions: make someone smile, buy coffee for a stranger or tell your loved ones that you are proud of them. If you are alone don’t let the opportunity to experience some positivity pass you by. Grab the spatula and sing.

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

November 6, 2017

Are you flourishing? Maybe some areas of your life are going better than others. To help you understand why that is, we can use a formula devised by the psychologist Martin Seligman. The acronym is called PERMA. It stands for positive emotions. Engagement. Relationships. Meaning and achievement. Look at your job: during which activities do you feel positive emotions. When are you so engaged that you lose your sense of time while being productive? Who do you have the best relationships with? What part of your job gives you a sense of meaning? Are you achieving things that are important to you? The cool thing about this formula is that you can apply it to everything to get a deeper understanding about how to improve a situation. It’s also a good way to feel gratitude as we might become aware of things that are good that we didn’t even think about.

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

October 18, 2016
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.

-Peter Drucker

October 16, 2016

If someone offered you a completely safe space full of love and no judgment what would you bring to that space?

October 15, 2016

As a big fan of self-acceptance and self-compassion I struggle with advice that goes along the lines of “just choose happiness”. After all it’s important to take our feelings seriously and honour them instead of brushing over them and pretending everything is fine.

However I find that neutral or slightly pissed off moods are not always the result of an underlying problem. Rather they can be influenced by all kinds of random things like weather, hormonal fluctuations or simply giving ourselves the space to brood.

If we mistake these random things for our authentic self it means that a more true version of us cannot shine through at this very moment. And this means that strategies of distraction or simply choosing different activities and thoughts absolutely have their place without meaning that we are faking it.

October 14, 2016

We live in a world rife with uncertainty. We make assumptions that often morph into certainties because we can’t focus on anything if we question everything everyday. Yet if we don’t want to risk betting our whole life on something that turns out to be wrong we should ask ourselves “what would happen if I were wrong?”.

To me I have placed my bets and everything else has taken a backseat. My bets are that “understanding your psychology can make your life better”, “we can change for the better” and “humans are basically good” (maybe the most risky of them all). But what would happen if I were wrong? What would happen if studies came out, not just one or two, but a huge number of replicable studies came out which showed that optimism levels can’t be increased, the human brain is fixed as it is and even though we are good sometimes, it clearly is selfishness that drives everything.

Well I have thought about that. Because the sunny days, time with friends, money and possibly more care-free life that would be available if I backed off of spreading what I believe to be the truth in this world I can never get back. I can never get back the time I spent alone in my room or at Starbucks drafting podcast episodes or writing course materials.

But here’s the thing: there’s margin for error because to me there’s nothing more interesting to think about than how more people can lead a fulfilling life. There is nothing more worthy to me than being able not once or twice but reliably support people who are going through hard times and giving them hope, knowing that this work makes a difference.

If you don’t have that margin of error in your life I don’t want you to feel bad about it. But I hope you realize it and do something about it before it unravels you.