10 brilliant Quotes, Adages, and short Poems related to Positive Psychology

Over the last years, I´ve collected countless quotes, sayings, short poems and similar inspirational stuff that (to my mind) is related to Positive Psychology. Here are my top-10 for the time being. Enjoy!

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
(Frederick Douglass)

Be yourself. No one can say you´re doing it wrong.
(Charles M. Schulz)

Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.
(Abraham Lincoln, among others)

Your brain is not designed to make you happy. That´s your job.
(Tony Robbins)

People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.
(Unknown)

Be you! The world will adjust.
(Unknown)

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
(Carlos Castaneda)

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
(Herm Albright)

To laugh often and much: To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
(Dawna Markova)

Be Yourself - Schulz

Boosting Meaning in Life by visiting Golden Gate Bridge

I’m writing this while sitting in a whirlpool in Stanford Park Hotel, Palo Alto. I’m on an extended business trip to the U.S. which has taken me from Philadelphia (where I got to attend the 10 year anniversary of the MAPP program at Penn) to Boston, then New York, and now the San Francisco area.

Today is a day off and I took the time to do some classic SF sightseeing – since this is my first time ever on the West Coast: I visited the Twin Peaks, Fishermen’s Wharf, and Lombard Street. But first and foremost, I was eager to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Nico Rose - Golden Gate

Ever since doing that, I have a warm feeling in my heart and my guts – and after looking at some research, I’m pretty sure I know why this is the case.

Growing up in Germany in the early 80s, I used to watch all those classic TV series like “Hart to Hart”, “The Fall Guy”, or “The A-Team”. Ever since, just being in the U.S., walking around and looking at the skyscrapers, yellow cabs, and the ambulances just is a cool thing to do for me (as it probably is for most Germans).

But at the end of the day, I guess there is no other sight that is able to carry the same quality of “longing to be in the USA” as Golden Gate – probably, because it is also the longest way to go from my home. For me, it’s a classic case of reveling in nostalgia, it conveys a sense of excitement, insouciance, and spending time with my beloved grandparents (who all have passed away long ago).

As stated before, I found a piece of research that is able to show reveling in nostalgia may be a viable pathway for boosting the presence of meaning in life. Here is what the researchers have to say:

The present research tested the proposition that nostalgia serves an existential function by bolstering a sense of meaning in life. Study 1 found that nostalgia was positively associated with a sense of meaning in life. Study 2 experimentally demonstrated that nostalgia increases a sense of meaning in life. In both studies, the link between nostalgia and increased meaning in life was mediated by feelings of social connectedness.

So thank you Empire State Building, thank you yellow cabs, thank you Golden Gate Bridge, for bringing back colt Colt Seavers, Hannibal Smith – and first and foremost, grandma and grandpa! Love you…

4 Hugs for Survival, 8 for Maintenance, 12 for Growth

I love this quote by the “Mother of Family Therapy”, Virginia Satir. Reminds me of Roy Baumeister´s article Bad is stronger than Good – and how we need to actively counterbalance the impact of negative incidents and encounters in our lives.

Virginia Satir - Hugs

Positive Psychology at the Movies: Character Strengths in “Love Actually”

Positive Psychology at the MoviesOne of the central concepts in Positive Psychology is the framework of 24 character strengths that have been outlined by Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman in their 2004 tome. It was the foundation for the VIA Institute on Character – where you can take a test (for free) to find out what your top strengths are.

Ryan Niemiec, VIA´s Education Director, has published the book Positive Psychology at the Movies. It examines nearly 1,500 movies with regard to their display of the 24 character strengths throughout their plots. Frankly, so far I did not have the time to watch all of those movies – but considering general life expectancy, I will be able to so until I´m grey and old (don´t know where Ryan finds the time, considering how many books he publishes).

Anyway, I had an idea: instead of trying to find all of the character strengths throughout a ton of movies – would it be possible to find them all in just one? Therefore, I picked one of my all-time favorites, romantic (Christmas) comedy Love Actually, watched it for the hundredth time (or so…) – but for once, looked through the eyes of the VIA taxonomy. And tadaaa: I was able to spot all of them, even though I have to admit that two or three of the attributions may seem somewhat debatable.

Here´s what I´ve found:

  • Mark displays creativity when having arranged the special version of the Beatles´ “All you need is love” for Juliet and Peter´s wedding.
  • Karen displays perspective and humor when cheering up Daniel as he mourns for departed wife.
  • Mark displays creativity when having arranged the special version of the Beatles´ “All you need is love” for Juliet and Peter´s wedding.
  • Harry the Boss displays social intelligence and leadership when confronting his employee Sarah about her being in love with co-worker Carl.
  • Little Sam displays honesty and bravery when telling his step father Daniel about being in love with Joanna.
  • Little Sam displays spirituality when he tells his father about how he believes in love and that there’s one true love out there for each and every one of us.
  • Prime Minister David displays humor when he tries to cheer up Natalie after she told him how bad she has been treated by her ex-boyfriend.
  • The Prime Minister displays prudence and judgment when, at first, he does not want to confront the U.S. delegation during the meeting with U.K. ministers.
  • The Prime Minister displays leadership, humor, and bravery when confronting the POTUS at the press conference.
  • Jamie displays love of learning and perseverance when trying to learn Portuguese in order to be able to talk to Aurelia.Love Actually - Billy Mack
  • Colin displays zest, curiosity, hope, and bravery when deciding to leave the UK for Wisconsin.
  • Mark displays kindness, great honesty, love, and bravery when meeting Juliet at her house on Christmas Eve to confess his love, but also his approval of her living with Peter. (By the way, this is probably my all-time favorite movie scene).
  • Karen displays self-regulation and judgment when pulling herself together on Christmas Day after having found out Harry has cheated on her – in order not to spoil Christmas for their kids.
  • Sarah displays fairness and (the capacity to) love (and be loved) when spending Christmas together with her mentally ill brother.
  • John displays gratitude after having been kissed by “Just Judy” for the first time.
  • The school orchestra/choir displays teamwork when performing at the Christmas concert.
  • The whole audience displays appreciation of beauty and excellence when witnessing young Joanna sing “All I want for Christmas” at the school’s Christmas celebration.
  • Little Sam displays perseverance, and bravery when running to say good-bye to his love Joanna at the airport.
  • Jamie displays hope, bravery, and love when he leaves his family’s Christmas party to spontaneously board a plane to ask Portuguese housemaid Aurelia to marry him.
  • Billy Mack displays humility and gratitude when deciding to return to Joe, his ugly manager, instead of spending Christmas Eve at Elton John´s party.
  • Karen displays forgiveness when she consolingly welcomes her husband Harry at the airport after he has betrayed her.

What´s your favorite movie – and are you maybe going to see it with different eyes in the future?

Nine requisites for contented living – according to Goethe

If Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived today, I´m sure he would be a Positive Psychology evangelist.

“Nine requisites for contented living:
Health enough to make work a pleasure.
Wealth enough to support your needs.
Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.
Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.
Faith enough to make real the things of God.
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.”

Goethe - Contentment

Positive Psychology has Changed the Way I Live, Lead, and Love

Martin Seligman & Nico RoseFacebook has been gentle enough to remind of the fact that my graduation from Penn took place a year ago. If you´d like to know what were my take-aways right at the end of the MAPP program, please read this post: My Mind´s MAP(P).

Looking back with a bit of temporal, spatial, and mental distance, I am able to say that this experience has changed my life in basically all of its important facets. I am not going to tell that I am a “totally different person” or something like that – because it´s not true. But my deep-dive into Positive Psychology has transformed – to some extent – the way I live, lead and love on a very tangible level. I just do some things differently by being more open.

I hope to continue on this path of increasing openness – and I hope I can continue sharing my experience and knowledge with you… 
Penn Graduation 2014