What´s your Favorite Positive Psychology Book? (Poll)

Today, I´d like to know which Positive Psychology Book you like best. I´ve provided a list with 10 of the most popular books (from my point of view). You can pick up to 3 books – or list other books that you prefer. Thanks a lot for your participation. Please share this post so others will vote, too!

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33 ½ Science-backed Methods to Boost Your Mood and Be Happier | Part I

Want to lead a happier life in 2016 (and beyond)?

This list includes valuable tips, exercises and “hacks” to be happier and lead a more meaningful life. All of these recommendations are backed by psychological science. In case you are interested to learn more, I´ve included links to some research articles that have examined the corresponding topic. No. 12 – 22 can be found here, No. 23 – 33 ½ will be published shortly. The pieces of advice are ordered (roughly) by difficulty/level of effort etc. Share and enjoy!

1) Smile, Baby

Conventional wisdom holds that people tend to smile because they are happy. And while that is certainly true, it turns out that the other way around makes sense as well. We get happier because we smile. This is called facial feedback hypothesis and it has been shown to hold true over many studies. Accordingly, one way to better our mood is to make ourselves smile – even if we don´t feel like it in that particular moment. A popular method in order to achieve this is to hold a pencil between your teeth for a minute or so.

2) Eat (dark) Chocolate

Consuming moderate amounts of chocolate, especially the darker, less sugary type, has been shown to improve peoples´ mood. Whether this is just a consequence of the pleasurable eating experience, or caused by specific psycho-active ingredients in the cocoa, is still under debate. It works, anyway. But don´t overdo it. You know what I mean…

3) Please don’t stop the Music

Listening to happy and/or you favorite music is associated with elevated mood. It seems that there´s music that has a general happiness-inducing quality (e.g., Happy by Pharrell Williams) but otherwise, it´s more important that you really, really like what you´re listening to. By way of example, I´m really into heavy metal – a type of music that was once seen as fostering aggression and antisocial behavior. In the meantime, it became clear, that the emotional consequences of listening to music should be attributed to the fit between music and listener.

Nico - Family - Mappalicious4) Catch the Sun

Low levels of Vitamin D seem to be associated with depressive disorders, especially S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder a.k.a. winter blues) – and it´s comparably difficult to generate enough intake just from food. Our body is able generate this vitamin, but we need exposure to sunlight in order to pull off that stunt. That´s why we need to go out regularly, even when the weather is not all that great. You don’t need to take an actual sunbath – just being outside is enough (even when it´s cloudy), especially around noon-time. Sitting in the sunlight inside of the house does not help. What´s more, sunscreen seems to inhibit the process that generates the vitamin. For more advice, please see this article on Psychology Today.

5) Go green

Paying heed to No. 4 will additionally help you with this one: the so-called biophilia hypothesis states (among other things) that spending time in green environments (parks, forests etc.) helps to fight off stress and boosts our mood. Basically, the equation goes: the greener, the better, so you´ll profit more from a stroll in a nearby forest than a walk in the park. Long-term studies have found that moving from an inner-city area (lots of concrete, few greens spots) to a more rural area is greatly beneficial for several aspects of our psychological and physiological health.

6) Shake that Booty

Now, I´m perfectly aware of the fact that dancing may not be the most favorite subject among lots of my fellow men. Actually, psychologists have described a specific facet of our personality by the name of dance confidence – and that tends to be a bit lower with the not-so-fair sex. Nevertheless, regular dancing – even when you do it on your own in your living room – has tons of positive side effects, e.g., lifting your mood, boosting your immune system, and fighting stress by decreasing the concentration of cortisol in your blood.

7) Hit the Pillow

It is known that people need different amounts of sleep, and that the need for sleep changes over our lifetime (generally becoming less the older we get). And yes, there are people out there that claim to get along with just four hours of sleep per night. But the truth is: those folks are probably killing themselves very slowly. Most “normal” adults need at least seven to eight hours of good rest per night. Anything below that level for prolonged periods of time will very likely lead to performance problems (e.g., concentration disorders) – and yes: bad moods.

Nico - Workout - Mappalicious8) Move your Ass

Most people start exercise regimens at the onset of a new year to lose some pounds in order to look better in their Speedos once summer comes along. As less known fact: regular physical activity, especially endurance exercises like jogging, swimming etc. at medium intensity might just be one of the strongest anti-depressants out there.

9) Put down that Smartphone

Now, I certainly don´t belong to the type of people that engage in simple-minded smartphone (and social media) bashing – but: there are more and more studies that show detrimental effects of too much smartphone use. Especially among heavy users, there seem to be several adverse effects such as concentrations disorders – and also, a kind of separation anxiety when not having access to one´s favorite toy, e.g. due to low battery. Bottom line: the tool is fine, but don’t get attached to it.

10) Don’t be a Hater, stop the Gossip

Research shows the more meaningful conversations you have (as opposed to small talk and gossip), the happier you will be. Additionally, certain types of expressions on social media, such as swearing and verbalizing aggression, seem to be associated with bad moods and even adverse health conditions, e.g., a higher risk rate for cardio-vascular diseases. So, watch your language, young ladies and gentlemen.

11) Practice Gratitude

Cultivating gratitude seems to be the Swiss Army knife of Positive Psychology. It´s one of the most thoroughly researched positive interventions. Mostly, it comes in the form of keeping a gratitude (or: www for “what went well”) journal; please see this post on Greater Good Science Center´s website for more detail). The power of gratitude lies in its ability to counter the effect of what psychologist like to call the hedonic treadmill. We get used to almost all circumstances and things in our lives, whether they be desirable or undesirable. That´s why it´s helpful to actively focus our attention on all the good things in our lives once in a while. Also, it doesn’t cost thing.

Please note

Science shows that you do not have to practice all of these things (at once) to be happier. Rather, you should find out which of these activities best fit your personality and current way of life – so you´ll find it easy to sustain them. Please refer to: To each his own well-being boosting intervention: using preference to guide selection.

The Flop 10 Positive Psychology Articles on Mappalicious for 2015

Two days ago, I posted a top 10 list of the most-read articles on Mappalicious for 2015. Just for fun, today I also had a look at those articles that attracted the smallest audiences. I´ve attended a seminar on improv comedy this year where I learned that “failure is sexy”. Therefore, the following ten posts made me a lot sexier.

But to be honest, once again, my readers are probably right. Most of the posts are short ones, e.g., a copy/paste of some adage or quote. Still, I find some pretty good stuff on that list, by way of example the piece on Twitter, or the one on callings. Enjoy!

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Positive Psychology Blogs around the Globe

World_FlagRecently, I´ve posted an article listing my ten favorite Positive Psychology blogs – and afterwards, I realized that all of them are US-based. And while most researchers and practitioners certainly live/work there, there´s lots of good stuff to be discovered in other parts of the world (and of course, on other languages than English). Even, if you don´t speak French, Spanish or the like, by using sites like Google Translate, you´ll be able to understand it all.

Here are some suggestions:

Share and enjoy!

P.S.

If you know Positive Psychology blogs from around the world that post regularly and displaying high quality content, please leave a comment…

10 must-read Blogs on Positive Psychology and adjacent

IMG_2317Truth be told: it was pretty hard to limit my selection of Positive Psychology blogs to only ten because there´s so much good stuff out there. But if I look to those that I read most frequently, it probably the following list. Share and enjoy!

Positive Prescription by Samantha Boardman is a blog that shares helpful practical advice for different aspects of life based on Positive Psychology; oftentimes also very funny.

Dan Bowling, a former SVP of HR at Coke, writes a witty and Positive Psychology-infused blog about Talent Management.

Todd Kashdan is a professor at George Mason University and co-author of “The Upside of Your Darkside” (among other books). He regularly writes about Positive Psychology via Psychology Today.

High Existence created by Jordan Lejuwaan is a multi-author blog on personal development and life hacks – some of the authors seem to be influenced by Positive Psychology. I frequently read their articles which are crafted exceptionally well (if you ask me…).

Mark Manson blogs about a wide array of personal development topics. He’s seems not to be directly influenced by Positive Psychology – but I love his no-bulls..t attitude towards this oftentimes rather shallow topic.

Ryan Niemiec, Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character, regularly blogs via Psychology Today, mostly on the science and application of character strengths.

Seph Fontane Pennock runs the site PositivePsychologyProgram.com, a great resource when you are looking for courses and study programs on that topic. But the site also contains a blog where he writes articles, interviews researchers, or hosts pieces written by a variety of guest authors.

Robert Quinn, co-founder of the Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School (University of Michigan) writes about Positive Organizational Scholarship via The Positive Organization.

Emma Seppälä is Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. She blogs via Psychology Today, oftentimes on mindfulness, meditation, and compassion.

Brett Steenbarger writes on Success via Forbes, especially in the field of stock trading – yet he often peppers his entertaining pieces with research on Positive Psychology.

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Honorable mention: Fulfillment Daily, a multi-author site run by Emma Seppälä. I write for them occasionally, so it would have been cheesy to put it in the actual list.