Sunday, March 5, 2017

7 Ways in which you can create miracles in your life

Sandeep Kulshrestha

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”- Albert Einstein

Pam Grout, the bestselling author of E Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts and E3: Nine More Energy Experiments to Make Joy, Fun and Finding Miracles says "whatever you focus upon expands". It is so true for our lives. Sometimes deep down we know if we would achieve or not achieve something on a particular day. Some people call it sixth sense or gut feeling but in a way it reflects the intentions we carry to make or break something. For example, people going to job interviews have a notion at times that they would get selected. Through our thoughts we can manifest our deep rooted intentions and that is what miracle is. I am not talking about angels helping you succeed but through your own efforts you can create a magical journey

How often you wondered that you have the eyes which can see the shades of greens, blues and greys and hear the sounds of the cars, of birds and of the rains and the thought "what makes us tick"? Isn't this all a miracle?. The Universe is the manifestation of expended consciousness and every day new stars are born even though we may be busy in our routines and life. Hence,miracles are happening everywhere. This is not one of those self-help posts but something which can make you aware of the life that you live along with others. But how do we create miracles in our daily lives?. The following 7 ways can give an idea;

 1. Write your intentions everyday: Buy a beautiful notebook, with wonderful paper and equally wonderful pen  to write your intentions/deep desires. Your intentions can be in "already granted format". Like, "I am promoted today. I value my sense of pride in my achievements" etc

2. Practice Guided Imagery of positive outcomes: Guided imagery is a meditative practice through which you can imagine a positive outcome of your efforts.

3. Listen to the sounds of nature: Many of us are conditioned to beautiful glass offices and we leave them when we complete our work, come home and sleep with exhaustion. Listening to sounds of nature makes us aware of a larger life that exists beyond our boundaries. If your city doesn't offer solace, go take a vacation to a place which is lush green and just be mindful of your surroundings. Let the sounds of nature mesmerize you to the fullest!   


4. Send people notes of gratitude: Expressing gratitude can perhaps take us away from our egos. When we educate ourselves and make great material success out of it, we tend to get superiority complex. Gratitude towards family, co-workers etc. may make us feel really really good. Won't we feel happy to see happier faces around us?. Also, you may keep a jar of different colourful post-it gratitude notes at your office/home. See this article for more information on this

5. Donate: Find your favorite charity. Donate money to them and visit their projects. Sense of altruism does bring humility into our minds. 

6. Seek Greatness: I heard someone say a couple of years back that "Success brings arrogance. Humility brings greatness". Don't seek greatness as a tool to market yourself. Greatness has to be imbibed through a conscious effort. Start looking at a person whom you hate with a different perception and try to accept that he/she would have his/her own issues

7. Read great books: Lastly, reading great books can bring new ideas into our mind and if we can have some take-aways from those books, we would enjoy our life as something really magical.

I reiterate here that I am mentioning more of "continuous magical moments" rather than a magician playing some tricks. And yes, you can always watch old romantic movies with your partner! 


Positive Psychology in schools

Positive Psychology is being implemented at the school level as well (from elementary till higher grades as well). The nomenclature is usually "Positive Education" where the overarching purpose of well-being and happiness can be achieved. In an interesting blog post, Natasha Trent writes about Positive Education and how it has been applied at few schools. The idea is to bring the HERO out of kids/students. HERO stands for:

Hope – a positive motivational state that is based on an achievement.

Efficacy – self-efficacy is the belief that one has the capabilities to execute the course of actions required, to manage prospective situations.

Resiliency – the capacity to bounce back from adversity, conflict, fear of increased responsibility, etc. which can be learnt.

Optimism- the expectancy of positive outcomes.

To read the full blog-post, please click here

Also, you may read an article Positive Psychology in the Elementary School Classroom on Psychology Today website

Other Interesting Links:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

5 ways for a Positive Compromise

Oxford Dictionary defines Compromise as, "An intermediate state between conflicting alternatives reached by mutual concession"
Hence, compromise in usual parlance is related to giving up on something which is dear to us with a tacit understanding that it would resonate in the similar way from the other side. In a society where we live and work with people, there are many moments where we need to just do adjustments and run day to day chores.

Positive Compromise for me is an idea where rather than focusing to much on the perceived loss, we can look at positive outcome. For example we hate a colleague but then when we look at positive attributes in that person and accept working with him/her, the outcome can bring better work relationship and overall harmony.

Former President of the United States, Barack Obama had once mentioned, "We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it's easy, but when it is hard"

The five ways in which we can achieve a positive compromise can be as follows
  1. Identify the right approach to communicate: Before reaching a compromise, the ideal approach would be to communicate with people you trust and put your point of views. With this understanding, the communication with the other side would be surely better.
  2. Be Mindful of what you believe in: Understand what your beliefs are and try to recollect if sticking on to it was helping you feel good about yourself and the people around. What is something which you can get rid of, especially if it was not helping you? Think about it.
  3. Start Practicing positive statements: Writing down some positive statements can surely help. Statements like, "I am confident that this is right" or "I am not changing myself, I am thinking beyond me" etc. Look at those statements in the morning and night
  4. Start with an open mind: Starting with an open mind is necessary. If stressed, you can try a meditation practice (many free resources are available online and Mindfulness Meditation can surely help. Stay focused on combined happiness. Take long walks and be alone with yourself.
  5. Think of the happy consequences: Try to evaluate if the consequences of a compromise is worth the exercise. Understand what rewards a compromise may bring. You still don't have to loosen your value system. Its just that you need a fresh air of an alternative point of view! 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Cinema Therapy and Positive Psychology

Cinema Therapy can play a dominant role (and also supportive) in therapy and of course in the coaching practice as well. Positive Psychology, when embedded into cinema therapy, can bring out solutions in much broader perspective, where movies become catalyst for invoking positive emotions, visualizations of an ideal life or even furthering the values of resilience, hope, spirituality, compassion etc.

Through Cinema therapy, we can use the effect of imagery, plot, music, characters etc. in films on our psychological state for insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief and achievement orientation.
The scene from the movie "Notting Hill" displayed at the beginning of this post can instill the values of love, compassion, kindness, perseverance etc. My favorite is of course from the Pursuit of Happyness, as below which inspires me when I have a challenging goal to pursue and the look of happiness on the face of the protagonist is what defines the movie

There is a tremendous opportunity to use cinema therapy, especially in India where we have a repository of movies which can invoke positive emotions and inspire people who are looking for a short term or a long term solutions for their issues, whether they are work, life or behavior change related

Zur Institute, an accredited online provider offers a Certificate in Cinema Therapy and it covers the following:

  1. Cinema Therapy - 4 CE Credits
  2. Positive Psychology and the Movies - 5 CE Credits
  3. Cinema Therapy with Children and Adolescents - 5 CE Credits
  4. Cinema Therapy Interview (MP3) with Dr. Wolz
  5. Listing of therapeutic themes and relevant movies 

If you are a therapist or a coach, this program may be relevant to you and would surely ad value. It is priced at $98 but if you apply the discount code IIPP88 on checkout, you would get a discount of 10%. Click here to enroll in the program

  1. Berg-Cross, L., Jennings, P., & Baruch, R. (1990). Cinematherapy: Theory and application. Psychotherapy in Private Practice, 8, 135–156.
  2. Corr, K. (2008). Movie therapy: Do you believe in the healing power of film? The Telegraph. Retrieved from 
  3. Fleming, M., & Bohnel, E. Use of feature film as part of psychological assessment. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40, 641-647. 
  4. Hesley, J. W., & Hesley, J. G. (1998). Rent two films and let’s talk in the morning: Using popular movies in psychotherapy. New York: Wiley.
  5. Lampropoulos, G. K., Kazantzis, N., & Deane, F. (2004). Psychologists’ use of motion pictures in clinical practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35, 535–541.
  6. Rapini, M.J. (2015). Can movie therapy save your marriage? Retrieved from

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Positive Psychology Concepts Revisited

Positive Psychology is one of the recent discoveries and it is not a branch of Psychology, rather it compliments concepts of Psychology and also aids in better mental health. However, as the traditional psychology focuses on what's wrong with people, positive psychology looks at what's right with people and there lies the difference. 

Positive Psychology is also referred to as a science of happiness and well-being and among various things, it suggests that indeed happy people live longer lives.

Positive psychology maintains that it is possible to improve one's happiness level. Positive psychology, as an idea has been in existence for a long time. Some interventions of positive psychology, such as counting one's blessings and practicing forgiveness and compassion, have their origin in ancient religious practices. New Age gurus also have espoused some of the theory and interventions of positive psychology. The field of humanistic psychology, founded in the 1960s by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rodgers, had similar hypotheses as positive psychology. This field now is led by respected psychologists who have demonstrated through empirical research the importance and efficacy of this concept.

It was Dr. Martin Seligman, a professor of Psychology at University of Pennsylvania who pioneered the term "Positive Psychology". Marty is a respected academic, researcher and leader in the field of positive psychology. In 1998, as the newly elected president of the American Psychological Association (APA), he was instrumental in launching the positive psychology movement by choosing it as the central theme during his presidency. During the 30 years prior to his becoming APA president, he sought to understand and cure disease. As president of the APA, he wanted to focus his work in a new direction: prevention. 
An incident between Dr. Seligman and his 5-year-old daughter clarified his mission of prevention using positive psychology. Dr. Seligman was weeding his garden and his daughter was singing, dancing and throwing weeds. Her behavior annoyed him and he yelled at her. She walked away but soon returned to remind him that, on her fifth birthday, she had decided to stop her habit of whining. She brilliantly analyzed the interaction with her father, declaring if she could stop whining, he could stop being a grouch.
Dr. Seligman realized he was and always had been a grouch, and he decided to change his perspective
Dr. Seligman also realized parenting his daughter was not about correcting her weaknesses, as she could do that herself, but instead nurturing the strength she had just demonstrated. He realized this strength, sometimes referred to as emotional or social intelligence, would serve her well throughout her life, balancing her weaknesses and helping her cope with the complexities and challenges of life. 

Dr Seligman (also known as Marty Seligman) devised a model called PERMA (Stands for Positive Emotions, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment). His premise is that if all these five factors are in cohesiveness, people can thrive and have a flourishing life, with sustained levels of happiness.

PERMA model is explained in the video below

Positive Psychology is influenced by spirituality as a trigger for happiness and hence concepts like Mindfulness Meditation are deeply embedded in the positive psychology practice.

Components of Positive Psychology
Positive psychology components include the study of:
• positive emotions and experiences;
• positive traits, strengths and virtues; and
• positive institutions such as democracy, healthy families and free press, which then support and enable positive experience and traits.

Benefits of positive psychology include:
• the experience of the full life versus the empty life;
• increased happiness;
• increased life satisfaction and meaning

Research Findings
Scientific research has been used to seek an understanding of positive emotions, and to build strengths and virtues.Techniques that work and those that don't are being identified so practitioners can be confident in their positive psychology coaching. 

The following are examples of research findings related to positive psychology:

• The Nun Study looked at the correlation between the amount of positive statements or feelings in autobiographical admission papers submitted by 180 new nuns and their health and longevity. The study found 90 percent of the most cheerful nuns were alive at age 85, while only 34 percent of the least cheerful were alive at age 85.
• Physicians who experience positive emotion make more accurate diagnoses.
• Widows were asked to talk about their late spouses. The widows who told happy stories were more likely to be enjoying life and dating again 21/2 years later.

Resources and Links:
Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania (Founded by Dr. Seligman)
Positive Psychology Program - Resources on Positive Psychology

A short video on Positive Psychology: 

Some thoughts on "What Does “Positive” Mean?

Positive Psychology movement emerged out of challenging the existing way of thinking of a "disease" model in defining psychology as we used to understand. The basic premise was how to make normal life more fulfilling and flourishing. There are many offshoots of the this interesting field of study and lately the conventional psychologists have also been talking of more human interventions then the pharmaceutical industry driven "disease" model based drug interventions

Some people observe that word "positive" is overused and overrated. We have now new concepts like "Positive Organizational Behavior", "Positive Psychotherapy" and even "Positive Psychoanalysis". Are we over-using this word? Perhaps not. A friend asked a few days back if we can really define the word "Positive" in terms of psychology, without referring to an easy assess of dictionary/thesaurus. I don't remember being able to define at that moment. For me, positive refers to hoping for a good outcome, which would enhance overall happiness and well-being (and even perhaps create happiness in a much more sustained way). I guess rather than defining "Positive" we should look at the ethics part of it. Whether the practitioners are applying either existing models or new research-driven interventions vis-a-vis self-help positivity jargon is to be seen and evaluated by practitioners themselves and the people who take their services.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Five ways to wellbeing - an interesting short video

In this short video, Professor Peter Kinderman from the University of Liverpool, UK shares some simple steps in having well-being, the first one being "Keep active" as in having some bit of Physical activity. Watch the video for more!