Auto Draft 2Mindfulness Works!

Learning to be ‘mindful’ is a key skill for improving well-being … even with just 8 minutes of daily practice. Try it out here with a few videos.


Learning to be ‘mindful’ is a key skill for improving well-being … even with just 8 minutes of daily practice. Try it out here with a few videos.


Learning the mindfulness technique facilitates learning to be more self-aware. It’s a crucial first step to starting to use other behavior change skills.  Please watch Dr. Marsha Linehan, founder of DBT (a variation of the theme of CBT), discuss what’s involved in the skill of Mindfulness.

Understand your Brain


Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation is NOT the same as a ‘relaxation skill’ – which quiets down your central nervous system … to relax when you’re too jazzed up with anxiety or too charged up to fall asleep.

Videos #1 – #5 explain and demo mindfulness meditation (and 1 for relaxation):
(1)  Animation explains (simply) what mindfulness meditation is
(2) Animation shows how mindfulness meditation works
(3) Jon Kabat Zinn demonstrates ‘mindful’ practice;

(4)  Brian Schwartz explains its value for getting out of obsessive loops
(5) Judson Brewer explains its value for stress management and breaking a self-defeating habit.

Video #6 demonstrates a skill to bring on the ‘relaxation response’ (to calm your nervous system):

(6)  David Carbonell demonstrates the quickest relaxation skill that is science-based – slow belly breathing
(7)  Fascinating article on the different benefits of different meditation types

(1)  What is/Why to use mindfulness

(2)  How it works

(3)  Jon Kabat-Zinn demonstrates it

Learning to be ‘mindful’ is the first step in managing your moods.  Below is a quick sampler of Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s instruction. He founded the scientifically-validated Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class at UMass. Their first study showed that a brief mindfulness practice boosted the immune system of patients — reducing the physical symptoms of psoriasis.

The full MBSR course is given at many universities. Locally, I recommend the one at George Washington University. I also recommend the MBSR course led by Stan Eisenstein, MSW, given in DC and Maryland at different times of the year.

Another option is to take the ONLINE Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course (produced by JKZ’s Center) – from the convenience of your own home!   To date, more than 20,000 patients have completed the MBSR program at UMass, which they now offer LIVE-Online as well. Worldwide, there are more than 740 MBSR programs in hospitals, clinics, and at free-standing programs serving the needs of tens of thousands of people on six continents. Also, you can experience MBSR online – FREE of charge.

Another option is to try out Headspace, a computer-based (or an app for the phone) program that walks you through mindfulness – easily/briefly. It’s free. Many people find it a helpful way to get started, especially to see what it’s like before trying out the MBSR course.

(4) Jeffrey Schwartz, MD – You Are Not Your Brain

One of the most important things we learn from mindfulness practice is … You are not your thoughts (you notice that you are having a thought), you are not your feelings (you notice that you are having a feeling), and ultimately, you are not whatever your brain automatically throws at you.

We can choose to focus on what is most important to us. We use our ‘wise mind’ to choose. It’s essential to realize the difference between your autopilot brain and your wise mind.

See more interesting videos related to mindfulness by Dr. Schwartz.

More about the Default Mode Network



(5) Breaking an old habit

Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.

It’s never too late to start!  It’s proven … Just 8 minutes of daily practice will change your brain, for good.

See more interesting studies from the American Mindfulness Research Association.  For instance, MBSR has been found to be cost effective for Low Back Pain.

(6)  Breathe: The simplest relaxation skill

David Carbonell demonstrates slow deep breathing. You will want to use this behavioral tool to help yourself to relax your central nervous system – to reduce anxiety – or to simply wind down from the day (before sleep) when you’re jazzed up.

 7)  Benefits of different types of meditations

What Type of Meditation Is Best for You?

One of the most in-depth meditation studies to date shows that different practices have different benefits.

More about Mindfulness

Dan Harris (not an animation) debunks 3 misconceptions about mindfulness meditation …

Dan Harris cites studies showing mindfulness can grow gray matter in your brain to change the “Default Mode” and to help you be happier …


Well-Being is a Skill

Modern neuroscience teaches that we can train our brains to have more well-being; it’s a skill to learn. Watch a thought-leader in the field of neuropsychology, Dr. Davidson, talk in Part I … about the science of well-being and in Part II … the 4 constituents of well-being, including the importance of practicing mindfulness.


Assess your StrengthsAssess your Strengths

Knowing and cultivating your character strengths as well as the strengths of others is a key to increasing happiness and meaning in your life.  There are several good free questionnaires to determine what your top strengths are.


Knowing and cultivating your character strengths as well as the strengths of others is a key to increasing happiness and meaning in your life.  There are several good free questionnaires to determine what your top strengths are.

Know Your Strengths

Positive psychology is all about focusing on what’s right about us.

First …  assess your TOP 5 VIA Signature Character Strengths  … here  … (it’s free).  Learn more about strengths-based work, love, and play at the VIA Institute of Character.

Second … assess more types of your strengths, validated by the Gallup organization, by looking at several options here.

Third … another way is to understand that parts of your ‘type’ are also your strengths. You can take this free questionnaire (if you haven’t taken the Myers Briggs).

Spot Strengths

Watch a quick video that show examples of spotting Character Strengths.

About the VIA Strengths Inventory

Take the VIA-Inventory of Signature Strengths to find out what your top 5 character strengths are. This (free) Survey has been taken by hundreds of thousands of people and some research findings from it are highlighted below. It measures 24 character strengths (also listed below).  In Positive Therapy, we leverage what’s best about you – in order for you to live your most actualized life. 

  1. Creativity (originality, ingenuity): Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things.
  2. Curiosity (interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience): Taking an interest in ongoing experience s afor its own sake; exploring and discovering
  3. Open-mindedness (judgment, critical thinking): Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; weighing all evidence fairly.
  4. Love of learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally.
  5. Perspective (wisdom): Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people
  6. Bravery (valor): Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; acting on convictions even if unpopular.
  7. Persistence (perseverance, industriousness): Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles.
  8. Integrity (authenticity, honesty): Presenting oneself in a genuine way; taking responsibility for one’s feeling and actions
  9. Vitality (zest, enthusiasm, vigor, energy): Approaching life with excitement and energy; feeling alive and activated
  10. Love: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated.
  11. Kindness (generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, “niceness”): Doing favors and good deeds for others.
  12. Social intelligence (emotional intelligence, personal intelligence): Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself.
  13. Citizenship (social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork): Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group.
  14. Fairness: Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others.
  15. Leadership: Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same maintain time good relations within the group.
  16. Forgiveness and mercy: Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting the shortcomings of others; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful
  17. Humility / Modesty: Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.
  18. Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.
  19. Self-regulation (self-control): Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions.
  20. Appreciation of beauty and excellence (awe, wonder, elevation): Appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life.
  21. Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful of the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.
  22. Hope (optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation): Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it.
  23. Humor (playfulness): Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side.
  24. Spirituality (religiousness, faith, purpose): Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose, the meaning of life, and the meaning of the universe.

The information above is based on the book Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification written by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman; Published by Oxford University Press and the American Psychological Association (Copyright 2004 by Values in Action Institute).

Also … Some research findings about these strengths include …

  • Using one’s signature strengths in a new way increased happiness and decreased depression for 6 months (Gander, Proyer, Ruch, & Wyss, 2012).
  • Using one’s signature strengths in a new way increased happiness for 6 months and decreased depression for 3 months (Mongrain & Anselmo-Matthews, 2012).
  • Using one’s signature strengths in a new and unique way is an effective intervention: it increased happiness and decreased depression for 6 months (Seligman, Steen, Park, Peterson, 2005). 
  • Random assignment to a group instructed to use 2 signature strengths or use 1 signature strength and 1 bottom strength revealed significant gains in satisfaction with life compared with a control group but no differences between the 2 treatment groups (Rust, Diessner, & Reade, 2009).
  • The use of one’s top strengths leads to a decreased likelihood of depression and stress and an increase in satisfaction in law students (Peterson & Peterson, 2008).
  • The identification of signature strengths followed by discussion with a friend about strengths and use of three signature strengths in daily life boost cognitive (but not affective) well-being at three months follow-up (Mitchell, Stanimirovic, Klein, & Vella-Brodrick, 2009).
  • Among youth, the use of signature strengths in novel ways along with personally meaningful goal-setting led to increases in student engagement and hope (Madden, Green, & Grant, 2011).
  • There is a strong connection between well-being and the use of signature strengths because strengths helps us make progress on our goals and meet our basic needs for independence, relationship, and competence (Linley et al., 2010).
  • A qualitative study examined the use of VIA strengths by women in the workplace and found that in all cases, strengths led to a “virtuous circle” in which the strengths use helped them overcome obstacles that had impeded strengths use. All subjects derived unique value from using character strengths at work (Elson & Boniwell, 2011).
  • Individuals who use their character strengths experienced greater well-being, which was related to both physical and mental health. Strengths use was a unique predictor of subjective well-being after self-esteem and self-efficacy were controlled for (Proctor, Maltby, & Linley, 2009).
  • In a longitudinal study, strengths use was found to be an important predictor of well-being and led to less stress and increased positive affect, vitality, and self-esteem at 3-month and 6-month follow-up (Wood et al., 2011).

The above research information was downloaded from here.

Learning Resilience SkillsLearning Resilience Skills

Most people want to be happier, not just less depressed or anxious. I’ve studied with the founding scientist of Positive Psychology (and 'learned optimism'), Dr. Marty Seligman.


Anyone is eligible to take 1 or a series of courses online taught by Dr. Seligman and others. These courses translate the best of research on how to be more resilient, including the components of the U Penn resilience program:

Learning Resilience Skills 1

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Video Lectures by Scholars

Watch videos spanning the gamut of positive psychology (e.g., the science – and myths – of well-being, resilience, gratitude, love, happiness, compassion, hope, grit, growth mindset, wisdom, flow, self-control, creativity & aging) by the following thought leaders:

  • Christopher Peterson
  • Martin E.P. Seligman
  • Angela Duckworth
  • Tal Ben-Shahar
  • Barry Schwartz
  • Ed Diener
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Barbara Fredrickson
  • Roy Baumeister
  • Robert Emmons
  • Shane Lopez
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky
  • Carol Dweck
  • Dacher Keltner
  • George Vaillant
  • Amy Wrzesniewski

Online Assessments (free)

Take free questionnaires at Dr. Seligman’s website to assess your:

  • Top Character Strengths (VIA Survey of Character Strengths Questionnaire)
  • Optimism
  • Gratitude
  • Grit
  • Meaning in Life
  • Close Relationships
  • Depressions (CES-D)
    and many more


Can You Learn Hope and Optimism?Can You Learn Hope and Optimism?

Research clearly indicates that even the most die-hard pessimist can learn, using CBT, to use an optimistic explanatory style … and reap the benefits of a longer, healthier, and more satisfying life.


Research clearly indicates that even the most die-hard pessimist can learn, using CBT, to use an optimistic explanatory style … and reap the benefits of a longer, healthier, and more satisfying life.

The 3 P’s of Learned Optimism

An intersection between CBT and Positive Therapy is translating Seligman’s research in learned optimism. In therapy, we work on how to manage the  3 P’s of a pessimistic explanatory style. How do you explain setbacks to yourself?

Permanence:  An optimist will explain a negative event as temporary; a pessimist will see it as permanent.

Pervasiveness:  An optimist will specify that a failure is specific to particular conditions; a pessimist will see a failure in life as being a total failure in all of life.

Personal:  An optimist will take responsibility for a failure, in context to all the other contributors to it; a pessimist will blame himself without that other context.

For more details about the research behind ‘Learned Optimism’ check out Dr. Seligman’s book.

What is Flourishing?What is Flourishing?

In 2003, Dr. Marty Seligman rolled out his groundbreaking ‘Positive’ movement with a virtual 26 week course, Authentic Happiness Coaching.


In 2003, Dr. Marty Seligman rolled out his groundbreaking ‘Positive’ movement with a virtual 26 week course, Authentic Happiness Coaching.


Martin Seligman on Positive Psychology

Published on Sep 27, 2013  By Authentic Happiness

See in this 3-minute video how my favorite teacher explains his vision of 51% Flourishing.

Martin Seligman ‘Flourishing

“a new understanding of wellbeing’ at Happiness & Its Causes 2012”
Published Aug. 25, 2012 by Happy & Well

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