Feature Story: Writing to Heal: Research shows writing about emotional experiences can have tangible health benefits For nearly 20 years, Dr. James W. Pennebaker has been giving people an assignment: write down your deepest feelings about an emotional upheaval in your life for 15 or 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days. Many of those who followed his simple instructions have found their immune systems strengthened. Others have seen their grades improved. Pennebaker, a professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin and author of several books, including “Opening Up” and “Writing to Heal,” is a pioneer in the study of using expressive writing as a route to healing. “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health,” Pennebaker says. In his early research Pennebaker was interested in how people who have powerful secrets are more prone to a variety of health problems. It turned out that often they would, and that it wasn’t even necessary for people to tell their secrets to someone else. Photo of Dr.
The Pursuit of Happiness: Can We Have an Economy of Well-Being? - Up Front Blog At this year’s American Economic Association meetings in Denver, there were the usual panels on topics like the financial crisis and the real estate market. More unusual was a session on whether happiness measures should replace GNP. The latter was written up (rather skeptically) by The Wall Street Journal. I participated in both panels (kicking myself for not skiing at either place). There is also talk of happiness as a policy objective. This is exciting for scholars. In my new book, The Pursuit of Happiness, I posit that the definition of happiness that individuals select is partly determined by their capacity to pursue fulfilling lives. The need for definitional clarity raises conceptual challenges. That consistency allows us to test for the effects of variables such as inflation and governance and environmental regimes. Happiness is the most commonly cited dimension of well-being. Policy, meanwhile, is driven by factors ranging from norms to welfare to culture.
Positive Psychology Exercises Mental health is the true concern of psychology. But how can one's health be judged? If a person does not have any mental illnesses, but is still not happy, should he/she see a psychologist? And what technique should be used for treatment? The answer is positive psychology, a recent psychological approach, with an emphasis on happiness and self contentment. While traditional psychology focuses on mental illness and unhappiness, positive psychology focuses on how common people can become happier and more content. Where and Why is Positive Psychology Used? Positivism can be used in clinical psychology, by encouraging focus on both positive and negative functioning, when understanding distress. Positive Psychology Exercises Keep a Treasure Chest: Store happy memories in a box or album. Be Unique and Show It: Revel in your individuality. How Social Are You: Do a pleasurable activity like gardening or writing, and do it alone to completion. Positive psychology is not without its critics.
Home Mindfulness (psychology) Mindfulness as a psychological concept is the focusing of attention and awareness, based on the concept of mindfulness in Buddhist meditation. It has been popularised in the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Despite its roots in Buddhism, mindfulness is often taught independently of religion. Clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970s have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness for helping people suffering from a variety of psychological conditions. Several definitions of mindfulness have been used in modern psychology. According to various prominent psychological definitions, Mindfulness refers to a psychological quality that involves bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, or involves paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, Bishop, Lau, and colleagues (2004) offered a two-component model of mindfulness:
Positive Psychology Exercise - Emoclear Self-Helpapedia Emoclear Positve Psychology Exercise I: Doing Pleasurable, Important, and Meaningful Activities Every day for two weeks do the following: 1. Choose a pleasurable activity to do alone and do it to completion. Example: Gardening or writing.2. Choose a pleasurable activity to do with others and do it until completion. Emoclear Positive Psychology Exercise II: Building Character. Based on Character Strengths (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). For two weeks pick two activities per day from the list below. The Activity List: 1. Here's a reflection exercise for accessing appreciation and gratitude: This exercise is to be done daily for two weeks. 1. Have fun, Steve The Last Lecture: A Positive Psychology Case Study My colleague Ben Dean and I recently conducted an Internet survey of 1464 adults interested in positive psychology that asked what they would most like to know about this new field. A large number wanted compelling case examples of actual people who lived life well, who embodied the strengths of character that we have been studying with quantitative methods. The world's greatest teachers, from Socrates and Jesus to the present, have always used parables to instruct and inspire others, and in the disciplines of business and law, the detailed examination of particular cases is the preferred method of teaching. Psychologists have also relied on cases, but these have been psychiatric histories that centered on people's problems. Here is another exception, a marvelous example of what it means to live well: Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Professor Randy Pausch, whose "last lecture" is all over the Internet (e.g.. www.randypausch.com ). I watched his last lecture wearing many hats.
The uses and abuses of 'happiness' The happiness 'movement' has the potential to transform society, but do its proponents know what they're doing? William Davies sets out four strands of the debate - philosophical, statistical, economical and psychological - and shows how confusion between them is hindering progress The launch of Action for Happiness last week generated yet more debate about the meaning and value of happiness. On top of the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) ‘national debate’ on how to define and measure ‘national wellbeing’, one can scarcely open a newspaper nowadays without discovering more political, scientific or pseudo-scientific pronouncements about what does or doesn’t make us happy. There is no reason to dismiss any of this as a flash in the pan. There are at least four ways in which the term ‘happiness’ can be used to augment public policy debate. The first is philosophical, and harks back to Aristotle. And finally there is the positive psychology movement.
:: Authentic Happiness :: Using the new Positive Psychology Ben’s Top 11 Positive Psychology Internet ResourcesBy Ben Dean, Ph.D. 1. Website for Reflective Happiness The most interesting new website in Positive Psychology is Marty Seligman's "Reflective Happiness" site at www.reflectivehappiness.com. 2. Barbara Fredrickson is perhaps most famous for her “broaden-and-build” theory of positive emotions. 3. If you can follow only one link, start here. 4. This is an active listserv for anyone interested in positive psychology (not just academics). 5. You may recognize Jonathan Haidt’s name from my newsletters about strengths because I often borrow his creative ideas on building individual strengths. 6. Definitely spend an afternoon at this site if you have not already done so as this is truly a remarkable resource. 7. Here is an excerpt from the Foundation’s mission statement: Established in 1995 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a resource for people committed to spreading kindness. 8. 9. 10. 11. Warmly,
Sonja Lyubomirsky Sonja Lyubomirsky is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside and author of The How of Happiness, a book of strategies backed by scientific research that can be used to increase happiness. She is often quoted in news articles about positive psychology and happiness. In the book The Only Self-Help Book You'll Ever Need, a criticism of self-help books, Lyubomirsky's The How of Happiness is praised as a self-help book that has claims backed by empirical data. Lyubomirsky is also an associate editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology. The How of Happiness Breakdown of sources of happiness, according to The How of Happiness The How of Happiness has spawned an iPhone application called Live Happy, produced by Signal Patterns. The How of Happiness has also spawned a song called The How of Happiness Book Tune, which acts as a mnemonic aid to help readers remember the content within the book.  References See also
To predict what will make you happy, ask a stranger rather than guessing yourself | Not Exactly Rocket Science Want to know how much you’d enjoy an experience? You’re better off asking someone who has been through it, even if they’re a complete stranger, than to find out information for yourself. This advice comes from Daniel Gilbert from Harvard University, who espoused it in his superb book Stumbling on Happiness. Now, he has found new support for the idea by studying speed-daters and people receiving feedback from their peers. In the first study, he found that female students were better able to predict how much they would enjoy a speed-date if they listened to the experiences of strangers than if they make their own assessments based on available information. Likewise, the second study found that people more accurately foresaw their reactions to criticism when they knew how someone else had reacted than when they had the information for themselves. This interesting result masks a second one of equal importance – people don’t believe that this works. Photo by Laughlin, found on Flickr
The Glee Club My first assignment was the gratitude visit. It goes like this: Pick a person in your life whom you'd like to thank, someone who has meant a lot to you. Write this person a letter. Whom to thank? I shared my fears with Martin Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the man who had in effect given me the assignment. Tasks such as the gratitude visit were first introduced in Seligman's popular book Authentic Happiness , in which he outlines positive psychology , a movement he founded in the late 1990s. Positive psychology focuses on cultivating personality strengths and honing an optimistic approach to life rather than on cataloging human frailty and disease, which Seligman says has too long been the focus of psychology. If you want to learn to be a happier person, only a relatively small body of knowledge exists to help you, Seligman says.