Positive Psychology Speaking Tour: Martin Seligman is coming to Europe

If you are interested in Positive Psychology and happen to live in (central) Europe, you might be interested to hear that Martin Seligman is coming to Germany in the summer of 2014 together with some other big names in the field, such as Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, and Barbara Fredrickson for several conferences. This is a great way to get updated on the latest developments in Positive Psychology. The presentation will be in English and translated into German. For more information, please refer to this (German) Flyer.


Do what you love, and do it often: The Holstee Manifesto

Today, I´d like to share with you the Hostee Manifesto, a clear proof for the fact that you do not have to be a positive psychologist to have a deep knowledge of positive psychology. It has been created by a group of young people, e.g., Fabian Pfortmüller,  who happens to be co-founder of Sandbox, a truly exceptional group of young global change-makers that I had the pleasure to spend an incredible weekend with in Lisbon in 2012.

I´ll let the words speak for themselves.

The Holstee Manifesto

On the Intersection of Cat Content and Positive Psychology…

Samu & NellySometimes, the world seems to be divided into two different kinds of human species: by way of example, those who love cats – and those who love to hate them. I mean, I rarely meet people who say something like “You know…I mean…cats are…Ok”. Either we are totally infatuated with our feline friends – or we´ve come to believe they´re the devil´s brood – for whatever reason.

Now, I happen to be a cat lover. Therefore, I´d like to introduce you to Nelly (brown) and Samu (blotched), two British Shorthair kitten that live in our home since January 17. The reasons: first, I know that cat content is the most important type of internet content right after porn, so my secret hope is that you´re going to share this post like crazy. But I´d never admit that of course…

Second and more important, I´d like to convince you of the notion that there is a substantial correlation between Positive Psychology and having a cat (or several, for that matter). The argument goes as follows:

1) Cats do really cute things. I mean, they sleep about 90% of the day. And another 9% are reserved for eating. But in the 15 minutes that remain, they really do very cute things – like licking themselves, falling off the couch, or trying to fit in holes that are far too small.

2) Watching really cute things makes us happy. And being happy is one element of PERMA, Martin Seligman´s concept of flourishing. Quod erat demonstrandum.

But joking aside: there is some scientific research on why it could be healthy to have a pet (at least one that can be petted…): 

First, there the Biophilia hypothesis. Basically, this means there is considerable empirical evidence that humans profit from getting in touch with nature, be it a green forest – or animals.

And second, we need to touch and to be touched (warmly). A caress (be it on the giving or receiving end) is as good as medicine (without the side effects). It can lower our blood pressure and reduce stress hormones like cortisol – among other things.

So, if you still believe that cats are evil creatures, please watch this video:

A huge Meow! to that.

The Meaning of Life is … Rock ‘n’ Roll

Once again, no time to write a “real” post today – but hey, there´s so much good stuff out there already. So I´d like to point you to a fabulous scene from a great movie: The Boat that rocked. It´s a movie by Richard Curtis (e.g., Four Weddings and a Funeral; Love…Actually) about a an illegal pirate radio station in the UK during the Sixties. Unfortunately, unlike most of Curtis´ other films, this one wasn´t a big success at the box office and therefore isn´t that well-known. If you like good music and funny plots with slightly exaggerated characters – go for it. It´s lovely. As with “Love…Actually”, some of the best and funniest scenes did not make it into the movie at all.

So here´s a 4:40 deleted scene on the meaning of life from “The Boat that rocked”. I promise you: whatever the mood you´re in right now – it´s going to be (even) better afterwards. Enjoy!

Rational Optimism: Check out Bill Gates Annual Letter

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post in which I argue that our world is in better shape than ever before – despite everything that´s undeniably wrong with it. And I posted some links to TED talks by people who are a lot smarter than I am to support my thesis with (their) data.

If you´d like to see more evidence on why it´s good to be a rational optimist, please have a look Bill Gates´ recently published annual letter

Bill Gates - Annual Letter

Great Overview of Positive Psychology Courses

The MAPP program at Penn probably is the most advanced Positive Psychology program on this planet.* You get to learn directly from Martin Seligman and some of his closest collaborators. But then, it´s not the only program on earth – there´s lots of cool stuff out there. So, if you cannot manage to move to Philadelphia for 10 month (or travel back and forth – as in my case), you might want to check our this website that lists 10 of the most promising courses and programs out there

Positive Psychology Courses

* Hey … I mean … what else did you expect me to say…?

Crying at Metal Concert is a little embarrassing – but then, by the 3. time, it´s kind of O.K.

Trans-Siberian OrchestraFirst, I´d like to make something clear: this is still a blog about Positive Psychology – even though I´m writing about Heavy Metal for the third time in eight days. But then, Heavy Metal and Positive Psychology are synonyms – at least in my wicked neural network.

Tonight, I´ve been to a concert of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a “metal vs. classical music crossover project” that was founded by members of the mighty Savatage. Even though TSO is most famous for their Christmas albums, they played a lot of old Savatage songs tonight – since the Christmas season is obviously over.

And I cried. Three times.  Now I may be a little prone to tears anyway – but then again, there´s something to the sound of a distorted guitar that makes my heart vibrate at an inapprehensible, pre-verbal level. With a rare exception here and there, this can´t be done by any other kind of music. Why could that be the case?

Lord bring on the night, wrap it all around me
Let it hold me tight, soak up all that I bleed

Here´s a video of the full song from the same tour in a higher quality…

One of my favorite movies of all times is Pretty Woman*. There is this scene where the male main protagonist, successful businessman Edward Lewis (Richard Gere), invites the female mail protagonist, prostitute Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts), to the San Francisco Opera to see a premier of La Traviata. When Vivian is very moved by the music, Edward says:

People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.

Now, I totally agree with Eddie. It´s just that in my case, metal came first. And I am not sure if my soul can truly madly deeply “hold” more than one style of music.

So if you haven´t found out yet which music is cherished deeply by your soul – do it. Now! Music may be the Gods greatest gift to mankind. That´s why I always want to slap people across the face that answer the question “What do you listen to?” by something like “Oh…you know…whatever´s on the radio”.

That´s not how it´s supposed to be. Now I don´t care if you really really love Country, or Reggae, or Jazz, or…Celine Dion… ah…wait…the last one doesn´t count…well…whatever…as long as you really really love something.

´Cause when you´ve found it, you´re never going to be alone for a single moment for your entire life!


* Yes! It´s absolutely possible to love heavy metal and romantic comedies starring Richard Gere and/or Hugh Grant at the same time. I´m the living proof…