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Positive Psychology

Bridging Ivory Tower and Main Street

The objective of positive psychology is to unite
the rigor of academic research with the
accessibility of the self-help movement.

The Permission to be Human

Unconditional Acceptance
Not resignation
Active acceptance

Do we give ourselves and others the

permission to be human?

Dealing With Stress

Time Out!
In a recent national survey of 13,500 college students,
nearly 45 percent reported being so depressed that they
had difficulty functioning, and 94 percent reported feeling
overwhelmed by everything they had to do.
Richard Kadison
Too much
to do

Stress (feeling


The Cost of Stress

Psychological health
Physical health
Reduced productivity and creativity

Do less, not more (quantity affects quality)
Reduce multi-tasking (quantity AND quality)
Time Affluence (versus Material Affluence)
Time for family and friends

Stress is not the problem

lack of recovery is the problem
The need for multi-level recovery
Micro (minutes, hours)
Mezzo (nights, days)
Macro (weeks, months)

The Mind-Body Connection

Overcoming Depression (Babyak et al. 2000)

156 patients with Major Depressive Disorder
Three groups (exercise, medicine,
Anti-depressant: SSRI
Exercise: Thirty minutes three times/week

Overcoming Depression (Babyak et al. 2000)

Results (16 weeks):
All three groups improved (>60%)
No significant differences among groups

10 months follow-up
Relapse medication: 38%
Relapse medication*exercise: 31%
Relapse exercise: 9%

Not exercising is like taking depressants

Exercise: The Unsung Hero

In a way, exercise can be thought of as a psychiatrists

dream treatment. It works on anxiety, on panic disorder,
and on stress in general, which has a lot to do with
depression. And it generates the release of
neurotransmittersnorepinephrine, serotonin, and
dopaminethat are very similar to our most important
psychiatric medicines. Having a bout of exercise is like
taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin, right
where it is supposed to go.
John Ratey

Mindfulness Meditation
Deep breathing
No good/bad meditation

The Mind of a Meditator

Left-to-right ratio in prefrontal cortex

The Mind of a Meditator

Left-to-right ratio in prefrontal cortex
The startle response

Given that the larger someones startle, the

more intensely that person tends to experience
upsetting emotions, Osers performance had
tantalizing implications, suggesting a remarkable
level of emotional equanimity.
Daniel Goleman

Mindfulness Meditation (Kabat-Zinn)

Decrease in anxiety
Mood change
Pre-frontal cortex activation
Immune response





If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to

just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to
breathe correctly.
Andrew Weil

Focusing on the Positive

Must something external and extraordinary happen

before we learn to appreciate the ordinary?

Research on Gratitude
Emmons and McCullough (2002)
Four groups: gratitude, hassles, superior, control

Psychological and health benefits

Maintaining freshness through mindful focus

I wondered how it was possible to walk for an hour

through the woods and see nothing of note. I who
cannot see find hundreds of things: the delicate
symmetry of a leaf, the smooth skin of a silver birch, the
rough, shaggy bark of a pine. I who am blind can give
one hint to those who see: use your eyes as if tomorrow
you will have been stricken blind. Hear the music of
voices, the songs of a bird, the mighty strains of an
orchestra as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow.
Touch each object as if tomorrow your tactile sense
would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with
relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never taste
or smell again. Make the most of every sense. Glory in
all the facets and pleasures and beauty which the world
reveals to you.
Hellen Keller

Change Is Hard
Although studies have shown that real change can
result from training, most of the time the change doesnt
seem to be sustained, which is why it is often called the
honeymoon effect. Considering that more than 60 billion
dollars spent in North America alone on training, this is a
sobering observation.
Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee

From Self-Discipline to Rituals

Building rituals requires defining very precise
behaviors and performing them at very specific
timesmotivated by deeply held values.
Loehr and Schwartz

Increases productivity and creativity

Introduce 1 or 2 rituals at a time
Incremental change is better than ambitious
failure.... Success feeds on itself.
Loehr and Schwartz

On Monday, dont tell

me how great it was;
tell me what youre
doing differently.