It seems that every year around Thanksgiving, people like to quote Dr. Robert Emmons’ work on gratitude. It becomes de rigeur to count your blessings and enumerate what you are grateful for. But I’d like to propose something a little different this ...

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Something a Little Different for Thanksgiving…

By Lisa Sansom

By Lisa Sansom -

Last night I had a horrible nightmare. I woke up next to someone who was not my husband who somehow got into my house and my bedroom thinking he was somewhere else. Though I was extremely fearful, he did leave and left his backpack behind. When I went to return it, I ended up in an office space which used to be my workplace, and I couldn’t get out. “Oh yes,” said the receptionist, “you used to be able to get out that way, but they’ve moved all the furniture around now and you can’t.” She couldn’t point me to the exit.

Then things morphed, as they do in dreams, and I was running around my kitchen trying to make dinner. The garlic bread would not lie flat on the baking sheet and kept drifting to the side, and then the pot was boiling over and then the oven got stuck on a self-cleaning cycle and the garlic bread burned to an inflamed crisp. I kept calling my husband’s name as I lurched from culinary crisis to culinary crisis, and although I knew he was home and I could hear him, no one came. I shouted until I was hoarse. Making no noise except sobbing, I collapsed on the floor while my kitchen burned. I woke up with real tears, gasping for breath.

In the light of day, this does not look as horrendous as it felt at 5:30am. There is some odd humor perhaps in there, but it felt real and today I am exhausted, which is also my default setting for just about everything. I’m exhausted.

More Self Care?

There is no doubt that we’ve had a lot going on: a big move, getting my teens settled into new schools, trying to reboot my coaching and speaking business after three years of dormancy while I was fully employed elsewhere. A lot of solid reasons to be exhausted. So I went to a therapist to see what I could do.

After about 45 minutes spilling out a very shortened version of my life and current tales of woe, all I took away from the therapist is that I needed more self-care. I felt like telling her that self-care these days is taking two Advil at night so my back doesn’t hurt and hoping I will get a solid 8 hours of sleep. I made a resolution back in January to make 2017 my “year of sleep” and I’ve mostly been able to do it, but the emotional exhaustion remains, even as I’ve been less physically exhausted.

Another Answer

That evening, I took my teenagers out to see Dr. Brené Brown talk about her new book Braving the Wilderness. I hadn’t seen her speak live before, though I had seen her TED talk about vulnerability, of course. With over 30 million views, it’s one of the top viewed talks ever. She was fantastic. Even when a medical crisis in the audience stalled the proceedings, she kept calm and resourceful, asking for doctors to come forward and asking everyone else to remain seated so that the paramedics could enter and look after the individual. She was composed, thoughtful, witty, and wise.

Moral Circle

I took two things away from her talk as well: one is that it doesn’t matter which side of politics you are on, but it does matter which side of humanity you are on. The other, her final piece of advice for the audience, is to talk to yourself the way you would talk kindly to someone else inside your circle of moral inclusion, and we should make that circle as wide and encompassing as possible. There were other tidbits of wisdom as well, but those resonated.

Then I had my nightmare.

Something a Little Different for Thanksgiving

We are coming up to Thanksgiving in the United States, and although I’m from Canada, we’re in the US this year and we will celebrate Thanksgiving with some nearby relatives. I’m fortunate not only to have them nearby, but also that they have been so kind and welcoming to us.

It seems that every year around Thanksgiving, people like to quote Dr. Robert Emmons’ work on gratitude. It becomes de rigeur to count your blessings and enumerate what you are grateful for. But I’d like to propose something a little different this year.

Everyone I know is stressed. Every mother I know is in crisis. All of my close friends, close emotionally though far away geographically, are suffering, and there is real physical or mental illness in their families. Some cases are truly life or death situations, which makes my struggles with my 13-year-old and his highly problematic integration into a new school pale in comparison. I truly should not be complaining. Yet, even when I put my own oven on self-cleaning, it gets stuck, and I get burnt.

I’d like to propose that we reach out to others, to put more people in our circles of moral inclusion and to speak kindly to them.

I don’t have it in me to do any more self-care. I can’t think of anything else for me when strangers are creeping into the most intimate spaces that I have. Family needs me, and I just can’t “put myself first” even though people say I should. But somehow, I can still summon the courage and energy to reach out to my friends and be there for them. I can act and be in such a way that maybe, they would be grateful for me.

Reach out to others. Broaden your circle of moral inclusion. Speak kindly to those who need it, even if they’re not asking. Help them find their way out through your relationship with them and compassion. Create community. Be on the side of humanity.


Brown, B. (2017). Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. New York: Random House.

Emmons, R. (2013). Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Photo Credit: from Flickr via Compfight with Creative Commons licenses
Baking oven courtesy of davidmulder61
Moral circle courtesy of ulisse albiati
Stopping to chat courtesy of Maria Eklind

This article first appeared on Positive Psychology News. To see the original article, click here. To comment on this article, click here.

Lisa Sansom, MAPP '10, is the owner of LVS Consulting, an independent consulting firm that helps to build positive organizations. Lisa provide services such as individual and leadership coaching, team facilitation, effective communications training, Appreciative Inquiry and change management consulting. Full Bio.

Articles by Lisa are here.


You are Invited: Registration Form included for First PPND Webinar on Nov. 29

By Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton

By Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton -

Welcome to the FIRST Positive Psychology News webinar featuring Louisa Jewell on building confidence.

Rarely do we have news that we are this excited about.

On Wednesday November 29, we are launching our very first webinar.

Yes, a Positive Psychology News webinar!

We are so excited to have the esteemed author Louisa Jewell as our guest. started on January 1, 2007. Our first article was What is Positive Psychology? We launched this site because we wanted to get the word out to many people about the research in positive psychology. Since then, we’ve had over 150 volunteer authors who have written around 1,500 articles. Some are how-to articles, some book reviews, some video interviews, some conference reports, and still others summaries of relevant research.

Today, we welcome YOU to come with us as we take the next step: live webinars with guests with important messages.

View all the information on our new Webinars page.

WHEN: November 29 at 3PM EDT
WHERE: Zoom webinar
CONTENT: Wire Your Brain for Confidence! with guest Louisa Jewell


You can donate to attend the webinar or you can attend for free – it’s your choice. In the past, many of you have said, “How can we donate to the website?” Donating to register for this webinar is one way to support the site and to thank our webinar guest.

This is a LIVE webinar. You will not have a chance to capture this in any way other than live. This webinar may be recorded, but for internal purposes only. If you want to be there, sign up to get it live.

For questions, please email

Q: How much does this webinar cost?
A: You have options of donating $20, $50, or $99 depending how much value you expect you’ll get out of it and depending on whether you’ll want to invite others to listen in with you. You also have an option of attending for FREE – just register, no need to donate. All proceeds go to this website and to the guest. Our goal is to bring you great content in an encapsulated one hour. The donation is a way to express appreciation for the contributions made both by the speaker and by Positive Psychology News.

Q: What will the format be?
A: One hour:

  • 20 minutes of the host’s Q-and-A with Louisa
  • 20 minutes of Louisa describing some concepts on wiring your brain for confidence
  • 20 minutes of your Q-and-A for Louisa

This will be a highly interactive webinar. Be at your keyboard and ready to type in questions and comments and answers to Louisa’s questions!

Topic: “Wire Your Brain for Confidence!”
Guest: Louisa Jewell

When:  29 November 2017 @ 3:00pm EST
Where: Online – view the webinar anywhere!
Price for the webinar – sliding scale:
– $20 | CAT-LEVEL: Yes, I’m coming!  (Suggested amount)
– $50 | KOALA-LEVEL: Yes, I’m a long-time fan!    (As a long-time supporter, I want to donate more than the suggested amount.)
– $99 | LION-LEVEL: Yes, I’m coming with friends! (Yes, I’m coming, and am inviting the whole office into one conference room so am contributing more).
– $0 | KITTEN-LEVEL: Yes, I’m registering. (Attending without a donation this time.)


Register and donate

Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries
Register without donating

KITTEN-LEVEL: “Yes, I’m registering”

Click here for more information.

This article first appeared on Positive Psychology News. To see the original article, click here. To comment on this article, click here.

Senia Maymin and Kathryn Britton are the senior editors of Together they have edited two books in the Positive Psychology News series: Resilience: How to Navigate Life's Curves and Gratitude: How to Appreciate Life's Gifts. Kathryn co-edited the third book in the series, Character Strengths Matter, with Shannon Polly. Their co-authored articles are here.

Senia Maymin, MAPP '06, is the coauthor of Profit from the Positive. Maymin is an executive coach to entrepreneurs and CEOs. Her PhD is in organizational behavior from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Full Bio. Her solo articles are here and her articles with Margaret Greenberg are here.

Kathryn Britton, MAPP '06 also co-authored Smarts and Stamina onusing positive psychology principles to build strong health habits. Blog. Full bio. Her solo articles are here.


Stand on the Shoulders of Giants: Short Time before Toolkit Price Goes Up (Sponsored)

By Kathryn Britton

By Kathryn Britton -

There are so many creative people out there finding ways to apply positive psychology in so many different settings, from childhood to old age, from home to school to work to retirement. So how do you stand on the shoulders of these giants in our field?

One way is to sign up for the Positive Psychology Toolkit©, a growing collection of resources from around the world. There are already more than 170 tools available, and the number keeps climbing. The providers can legitimately call it a treasure chest.

If you acquire the toolkit, you acquire the right to use any of the tools. In my mind, that’s one of the top attractions: No more need to send humble requests to reuse other people’s work. Seph Fontaine Pennock, Hugo Alberts, and their team have already done that for you.

Time to Act

If you sign up before November 8th, you will receive the following bonuses complimentary with your subscription to the toolkit as a welcoming present:

  • 2 Positive Psychology Coaching manuals (not available anywhere else)
  • 64 Positive Action Cards (a physical product shipped free of charge)

Through November 7, you can now get your hands on all of this for just $24/month ($288/year).

On November 8, the bonuses expire, and the price will permanently jump up to $30/month ($360/year).

Click on Positive Psychology Toolkit© to join.

What the Co-founders Say about the Toolkit:

I borrowed these words from the announcement sent out by Seph Fontaine Pennock about the toolkit imminent price change:

Your practice relies on your ability to effectively help other people. Whether you do that in the form of teaching, coaching or therapy, you know you need high-quality training methods in order to help.

This is why we developed the Positive Psychology Toolkit©.

Since we launched the Positive Psychology Toolkit© in August of 2015 over 2.500 helping professionals have implemented positive psychology into their practice by using the following structured and science-based resources:

  • 97+ Positive Psychology Exercises (text, PDF)
  • 24+ Positive Psychology Assessments (text, PDF)
  • 11+ Positive Psychology Meditations (text, PDF + audio, MP3)
  • 7+ Positive Psychology Metaphors (text, PDF)
  • 11+ Positive Psychology Overview Resources (text, PDF)
  • 20+ Positive Psychology Interventions (text, PDF)
  • 48+ Definitions of Positive Psychology Terms (aka the ‘Knowledge Base’)

Act now to lock in the current rate on the Positive Psychology Toolkit©.

But even if you miss this deadline, it remains a good deal.



More Information About the Toolkit

Pennock, S. F. & Alberts, H. (2015). Positive Psychology Toolkit Updates (Sponsored). Positive Psychology News.

Pennock, S. F. (2016, Nov). Move Fast to Get the Positive Psychology Toolkit at Current Low Price (Sponsored by PPND). Positive Psychology News.

Pennock. S. F. (2017, March). Positive Psychology Toolkit Update (Sponsored). Positive Psychology News.

This article first appeared on Positive Psychology News. To see the original article, click here. To comment on this article, click here.

Kathryn Britton, MAPP '06, former software engineer, is a coach working with professionals to increase well-being, energy, and meaning in their work lives(Theano Coaching LLC). She is a member of the Silicon Valley Change coaching network. She is also a writing coach and facilitator of writing workshops. Her own books include Smarts and Stamina onusing positive psychology principles to build strong health habits and Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. Full bio.Kathryn's articles are here.


The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (Book Review)

By Kathryn Britton

By Kathryn Britton -

Idea – Stories – Structure – Research

What do you get when you mix together a compelling idea, numerous engaging stories, a clear structure, and a firm research grounding? You get a book that is made to stick and useful from the moment you pick it up.

That’s my assessment of the new book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, The Power of Moments, released yesterday.  Let me go through these qualities one by one.

A Compelling Idea

“Flagship moments, the peaks, the pits, and the transitions” dominate our assessments of our biggest experiences.

Chip and Dan Heath take this idea a vital step further. With awareness of what contributes to the intensity of moments and what makes peaks as opposed to pits, they contend that we can intentionally enhance our own experiences and the experiences of those around us. No, let us take that further. We can intentionally enhance our own lives and the lives of those around us.

Moments matter, and moments can be shaped.

Engaging Stories

Best of all in The Power of Moments, there are stories. Lots of stories. My rough count is about 50. There are paragraph length stories and multi-page stories that recur multiple times. There are stories about outstanding service, such as the way a hotel handles a beloved stuffed toy left behind by a toddler. There are stories about moments that build bravery, such as the training undergone by young people preparing for the Civil Rights lunch counter protests. There are stories of medical practices being turned around by well-engineered moments that reminded participants of the deeply important purpose they share. The sources of the stories are listed in the end notes, so it is clear that Chip Heath and Dan Heath did a lot of work to find them.

A Clear Structure

When it comes to shaping moments, what levers do you have? The authors organize their observations into four categories including two or three actions for each category to help people increase peak moments.

  • Elevation: Build Peaks and Break the Script
  • Insight: Trip Over the Truth and Stretch for Insight
  • Pride: Recognize Others, Multiply Milestones, and Practice Courage
  • Connection: Create Shared Meaning and Deepen Ties

Let me illustrate with an example of a lever from the Practice Courage chapter. Many people believe that courage is something you either have or do not have. But the authors show that courage can be augmented by practicing the actions you need to take in a difficult moments. Soldiers and firemen do this in drills, preloading the responses they need in dangerous situations so that they can respond rapidly when those moments occur. Those of us leading less dangerous lives can also preload responses to the challenges we are likely to face. The authors introduce us to Giving Voice to Values, Mary Gentile’s approach to teaching ethics. She shifts the focus from “What is the right thing to do?” (which her students mostly knew already) to “How can I get the right thing done?” Students identify ethical situations that might arise in their jobs, script responses, and then practice the responses.  

Throughout the book, there are clinics, multi-page discussions of real world opportunities to use moment-building actions to solve real problems that might have analogies in your own world. I’ll list the clinic titles here. They do seem to be mostly work settings, but it is not hard to see how to take the ideas home.

  • The Missed Moments of Retail Banking
  • How Do You Refresh a Meeting That’s Grown Rote?
  • Improving a Chinese Restaurant
  • Boss Has a Flash of Insight: I’m a Jerk
  • How Can You Combat the “Silo” Mentality?

Research Grounding

Every time the authors mention research that I’m familiar with already – work by Kahneman, Wrzesniewski, Aron, Gollwitzer, and others, I think, “Yes, that is clearly stated, and it clearly supports the point you’re making.” That makes me ready to absorb the various sources I did not already know. This book rests on strong pillars.


This is a book I’ll keep close by to help me plan for moments that matter. I’ve thought of at least 3 opportunities to use the ideas this week.

Let me close with one point they make in the chapter about courage.

“In short, courage is contagious. … Think of it: Your moment of courage might be a defining moment for someone else – a signal to them that red is red, that wrong is wrong, and that it can be righted if we stand, together, against it.” (p. 193)



Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2017). The Power of Moments. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2017). One page summary of Power of Moments. Available on the Member Resource page on the Heath brothers website. There are numerous resources there to augment and support their books.

Gentile, M. (2012). Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right. Yale University Press.

Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2007). Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Random House.

About Kahneman:
Britton, K. H. (2012). Homage to Kahneman, Part 1. Positive Psychology News.

Includes a discussion of Gollwitzer’s implementation intentions:
Polly, S. (2014). How to Command a Room: Suggestions for Positive Presenting. Positive Psychology News.

References Aron’s 36 questions:
Stanley, J. (2016). Instead of a Resolution, Try a New Year Routine (Part 1). Positive Psychology News.

References Wrzesniewski’s job crafting:
Chin, E. (2013). Unhappy at Work? Change Your Job While Still In It. Positive Psychology News.

This article first appeared on Positive Psychology News. To see the original article, click here. To comment on this article, click here.

Kathryn Britton, MAPP '06, former software engineer, is a coach working with professionals to increase well-being, energy, and meaning in their work lives(Theano Coaching LLC). She is a member of the Silicon Valley Change coaching network. She is also a writing coach and facilitator of writing workshops. Her own books include Smarts and Stamina onusing positive psychology principles to build strong health habits and Character Strengths Matter: How to Live a Full Life. Full bio.Kathryn's articles are here.


Wire Your Brain for Confidence and Conquer Self-Doubt (Book Review)

By Elaine O'Brien

By Elaine O'Brien -

“Once you rewire your brain, it feels like the canoe you have been paddling upstream with so much effort has been turned around to float freely with the direction of the river. When you wire your brain for confidence, there is little resistance toward big, scary goals.” – Louisa Jewell

Louisa Jewell at launch

Louisa Jewell
at the book launch

On Thursday September 21, Louisa Jewell launched her new book, Wire Your Brain for Confidence: The Science of Conquering Self-Doubt. She has delivered a brilliant tour de force.

Louisa Jewell is articulate, down to earth, generous, and funny. She is also the founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association (CPPA), a scholar, a successful organizational consultant, a businesswoman, a speaker, a loving mother, a cherished friend, and a great storyteller.

In her abundant, practical, and well-researched book about confidence, Louisa weaves together the science of positive psychology, self-efficacy, self-determination theory, and neuropsychology in an engaging, easy to understand manner.

Louisa describes surmounting personal tragedy with assurance. She exposes her own vulnerability as she chronicles her trajectory overcoming her own self-doubts to rise as a flourishing international leader in the science of applied positive psychology.

Louisa cites leading-edge research. She has interviewed positive psychology thought leaders in both research and practice, including Dr. Kate Hefferon and Dr. Carol Dweck. Louisa explains Dweck’s The Power of “Yet” (page 203), shares helpful “Confidence Habits” (pages 208, 224), and gives the reader a handy, compelling exercise titled, “How to Eliminate ‘Should’ From Your Life.”

Disclosure: I had the pleasure of meeting Louisa in 2009 when she entered the University of Pennsylvania MAPP program, and I was a new MAPP graduate. Over the years since then, I have been honored to call Louisa, my colleague and friend. I have seen the confidence that she describes grow and blossom in her life. She lives what she describes.

Self-Determination Theory: Relatedness, Autonomy, Competence
Louisa presents theories and research around building confidence in a masterful manner. I study motivation. I found Louisa’s illuminating descriptions around Richard Ryan and Edward Deci’s Self-Determination Theory (SDT), perfectly on target. Louisa describes SDT about how “humans are driven by three psychological needs that contribute to intrinsic motivation, a heliotropic effect, and are essential for growth and well-being, just like sun, water, and soil are essential for plants to function optimally.” The descriptions below are her section headers:

  1. Relatedness: The universal need to interact, be connected to, and experience caring for others
  2. Autonomy: The universal urge to be in control of one’s own life and act in harmony with what is important to oneself
  3. Competence: A need to control the outcome of our actions and experience mastery

Signing books

Louisa Jewell signing books

Fear of Failure, and How to Overcome It

Louisa explains that people often identify fear of failure as a strong demotivator, but if you dig a little deeper, it’s failing in plain sight of other people that is the real fear. Initially researchers believed self-doubt was internally driven. She shares current research suggesting self-doubt is inherently a social phenomenon, emerging from our concerns about social disapproval and the potential of being evaluated negatively by our peers and family. Fear of social evaluation and disapproval may discourage us from engaging in behaviors that will allow us to fulfill our dreams.

What’s in the Mix: Louisa’s Formula for Confidence

Louisa shares a powerful formula for confidence based on the science of applied positive psychology and her lived experiences. Louisa urges us to conquer doubt and to honor our worth. Further, she promotes a legacy of goodness, practicality, and wisdom, which is encouraging, especially for women. Louisa cares about us, her readers, and is cheering us on throughout the book. She is also raising the barre by giving exercises on how to live with greater confidence, intuition, wisdom, and creativity. She reminds us not to fear shining brightly, nor dim our own lights. She also offers a bit of tough love around receiving feedback, explaining “when you don’t take things personally, you are more likely to just get back up and keep trying.”

With writing coach, Kathryn Britton

Confidence to Lift Up Women and Our Humanity

Louisa addresses the bias, degradation, inequality, and lack of safety that affect women’s lives today. Her book can be a valuable tool in education, therapy, business, and personal help. Louisa offers the “juice:” research and resources that can take us on a journey toward creating a better understanding of ourselves and thus embodying self-assurance.

The research, skills, and tools in Louisa Jewell’s book will go a long way toward helping her readers shine.


Jewell, L. (2017). Wire Your Brain for Confidence: The Science of Conquering Self-Doubt. Famous Warrior Press.

Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books.

Hefferon, K. (2013). Positive Psychology and the Body: The Somato-Psychic Side to Flourishing. Open University Press.

Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.

Photo credits: Photos provided by the author and by Louisa Jewell (signing photo).

This article first appeared on Positive Psychology News. To see the original article, click here. To comment on this article, click here.

Elaine O'Brien, PhD, MAPP '08, CAPP, is Executive Director of Lifestyle Medicine: Body, Brain and Movement Science, a consultancy, training, and design company. She earned a PhD in Psychology of Human Movement at Temple University. Elaine provides services for corporations, government, health, medicine, education, sports, and in the entertainment industry, inspiring people to move toward positive energy, vibrancy, and excellence. Full bio. LinkedIn. Elaine's articles are here.


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