Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 04/2017

mappalicious_news_digest_2017My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent topics from (roughly) the last seven days.

Scientific American: Power of a Meaningful Life by Gareth Cook

New York Magazine: What Makes Your Life Meaningful? by Melissa Dahl & Allyson Young

Times HigherEd: Happiness expert advises UK’s first ‘positive university’ by Jack Grove

Center for Positive Organizations: Soft Skills Training Boosts Productivity by Greta Guest

BBC: How to be wiser by Claudia Hammond

Guardian: Quick steps to mindfulness: the running Treatment by William Pullen

The Positive Organization: Living on the Upward Spiral by Robert Quinn

The Federalist: These New Yorkers Rediscovered Meaning By Serving Their Neighbors by Emily Esfahani Smith

The Economist: Walk in your own shoes: The case for compassion, not empathy, no author

Science Daily: Where belief in free will is linked to happiness, no author

Positive Education: An Introduction in 6 short Videos

The International Positive Education Network (IPEN) has just issued a series of very instructive on the role of Positive Psychology in Education. Share and enjoy!

To learn more, please visit IPEN´s website and consider going to the Festival of Positive Education in Dallas from July 18-20.


Mappsterview No. 6: Louis Alloro, “The Original Cappster”

I was in the ninth cohort of the Master of Applied Positive Program at Penn. Consequently, there are tons of brilliant MAPP Alumni out there who have fascinating stories to tell: about their experience with the program, about Positive Psychology in general – and about themselves of course. I really want to hear those stories. That´s why I started to do Mappsterviews.


Please introduce yourself briefly:

For nearly ten years, I’ve been at the forefront of human capital development by utilizing positive psychology to bring out the strengths in individuals, groups, organizations and communities. My expertise includes leadership development, team building, change management, human capital energy audits, and organizational culture initiatives including a city-wide project in Cleveland Ohio. As one of the first one hundred people in the world with an advanced degree in applied positive psychology I have had the honor of helping organizations and individuals achieve high potential using scientifically informed tools and strategies. My heart work is about helping people remember to choose love over fear.

What did you do before joining the MAPP program at Penn?

A lot of stuff – looking for my calling, expecting that when I found it, I would know. Sure enough, that day in December 2006 when I opened the New York Times to see one of the first popular press articles in Positive Psychology, I had a visceral sense through my body that this was it. I had always known I was a change-agent. As a former school teacher, I had always been called to help school communities which are often archaic and dysfunctional systems. I love the phrase attributed to Einstein that “we can’t solve today’s problems with the same thinking that created them.” Helping people think about how they think and from a positive perspective – yes, this was/is it!

What got you interested in Positive Psychology in the first place?

I had always been interested in personal development programs, ever since I was a teenager. As a young adult, I took the Landmark Forum. Impressed by its “technology” I wanted to bring it to people I loved and cared about; their model is to “enroll” others. However, I was always met with such resistance. There had to be a better way, I thought – a more positive approach to keep people in opportunity mode – as opposed to the threat response I so often got. When I discovered Positive Psychology, I knew it was what I had been yearning for/envisioning all along.

Here’s another more personal reason I am interested in Positive Psychology.

I´ve learned that you are a Fellow of George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Wellbeing. What kind of work are you doing for them?

It’s been more work “with” them than “for” them. I have been involved in the campus wellbeing initiative that is part of the university’s strategic plan. I’ve also done some training courses internally for their university life staff and externally for their coaching program. The center was instrumental in bringing my MAPP capstone to life in a city-wide wellbeing intervention in Cleveland Ohio from 2011-2014. I am grateful for their partnership and support. The people there really walk the talk and not everyone in Positive Psychology does.

You also work on a framework you call “Social-Emotional Leadership”. What is that all about?

It’s about being the change we wish to see in the world. It’s about taking influential (not positional) leadership in our lives – at home, work and any place in between. It’s about leveraging the contagion factor. Social Emotional Leaders stand up to say, “Hey guys, we can do better.” It’s about facilitating that positive change first for oneself and then for others. As one of my former students said, “We must drink as we pour” to signify the importance of taking care of ourselves as change-agents.

certificate-in-Applied-Positive-Psychology.jpgAdditionally, you run an organization that offers Positive Psychology education in several cities all across the USA. I´d love to hear about that.

Emiliya Zhivotovskaya and I launched the Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) three years ago in New York. We’re now in twelve different cities (US + Canada) offering a top-rated six month personal and professional learning journey for social-emotional leaders – change-agents who once they learn the science of human nature and behavior will become more effective in their spheres of influence. It’s a train-the-trainer executive education model. It’s a solid program. I hear all the time, “CAPP surpasses my expectations!”

We have new cohorts in Raleigh, NC, New York, NY and San Francisco CA starting this spring.

Do you have any plans for going international with CAPP?

Yes! Stay tuned. Our vision is to have CAPP cohorts in every city around the world. People are so hungry for this stuff and what an honor it is to facilitate learning, growth, and positive evolution. Right now, international students can apply for our online program.

Want to learn about Positive Education? Here are some Opportunities

Pos_EdFirst, I’d like to point your attention to an upcoming conference: The International Positive Education Network (IPEN) will be hosting the first Festival of Positive Education in Dallas from July 18 to 20 next year. Among the speakers will be Martin Seligman, Angela Duckworth, and Anthony Seldon. For info and booking (please note there are some early-bird options) please visit this site.

Second, a couple of weeks ago a parcel reached me all the way from Australia. It contained a copy of the book Evidence-Based Approaches in Positive Education: Implementing a Strategic Framework for Well-being in Schools edited by Mathew White and Simon Murray (foreword by Martin Seligman). I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but I’m sure it’s worth every penny.

Positive Psychologie in der SchuleAnd third, just in case your German: We don’t have to look to the other end of the globe for good stuff on Positive Education. Recently, Michaela Brohm and Wolfgang Endres published a book by the name of Positive Psychologie in der Schule: Die Glücksrevolution im Schulalltag. Mit 5 × 8 Übungen für die Unterrichtspraxis (Positive Psychologie at School).

Finally, I’d like to point your attention to the list of Positive Psychology papers on this site – it also contains a section on Positive Education.

Share and enjoy!

12 + 1 Articles on Positive Education (including links to PDFs)

Positive EducationI´m very happy to announce that recently, I have become an IPEN Global Representative. IPEN (International Positive Education Network) is an initiative to “bring together teachers, parents, academics, students, schools, colleges, universities, charities, companies and governments to promote positive education.” The group of Global Representatives volunteers to help IPEN to “spread the word” on Positive Education (in their respective countries of origin).

To start, I´ve compiled a list of 12 eminent research articles on Positive Education, the links will lead to the respective PDFs. Enjoy!


It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

I stumbled upon this quote yesterday and it struck me as very powerful. It beautifully conveys one of the central tenets of Positive Psychology (strengths-orientation and looking at “what´s right”) – and at the same time it could be a sort of “battle cry” for the Positive Education movement.


My favorite Subject in School? Happiness, of course!

If you are lucky, Positive Psychology will be coming to a school near you soon. Positive Education as part of Positive Psychology seems to be really taking off at this point in time. There is an early article by Seligman et al. (Positive education: positive psychology and classroom interventions) – but just recently, the International Positive Education Network (IPEN) was launched. According to its website, the goal of IPEN is

to bring together teachers, parents, academics, students, schools, colleges, universities, charities, companies and governments to promote positive education. Our goals are to support collaboration, change education practice and reform government policy.

On the question “Why Positive Education?” the website states:

Positive education challenges the current paradigm of education, which values academic attainment above all other goals. Drawing on classical ideals, we believe that the DNA of education is a double helix with intertwined strands of equal importance:



  1. The fulfillment of intellectual potential through the learning of the best that has been thought and known.
  2. The development of character strengths and well-being, which are intrinsically valuable and contribute to a variety of positive life outcomes.

For quite a long time, Geelong Grammar School in Australia has been the hallmark of applied Positive Education. But more schools shall follow soon. Even in Germany – which typically does not pick up Positive Psychology topics that fast – has seen some Positive Education initiatives as early as 2007. We have a movement called Schulfach Glück (“School Subject Happiness”) which is backed by the “Fritz-Schubert-Institute”. They bring a positive curriculum especially to primary schools, helping teachers to teach topics to their classes such as joy and motivation, curiosity and courage, and mindfulness and respect.

By now, Fritz Schubert has authored three books on this initiative. The effectiveness of the program was recently evaluated in a study comparing classes who completed the curriculum to control groups. The treatment groups displayed higher subjective well-being and self-esteem at the end of the school year. The research article is written in German, but there´s an English abstract:

Applying a quasi-experimental pre-posttest design, we examined the effectiveness of a new teaching unit called school subject happiness. The investigation took place at two vocational schools that had established this subject in the school year 2010/11. Effects of one school year of instruction in the school subject happiness on students´ well-being, self-esteem, and self-efficacy are reported. In addition, a moderation effect of the personality traits emotional stability and extraversion was investigated. A total of 106 vocational school students who belonged either to the treatment or the control group participated in the study. At the beginning and at the end of the school year 2010/11, all students completed questionnaires. Beneficial effects were found for affective components of subjective well-being and self-esteem. Furthermore, the effects on self-esteem and cognitive components of well-being were moderated by emotional stability. Students who reported higher emotional stability benefited more from the new teaching unit. For self-efficacy no effect was found. The results are interpreted as partial effectiveness of the program.