TED talk

The 2018 Ultimate List of Happiness and Mental Health Apps

The 2018 Ultimate List of Happiness and Mental Health Apps

There are thousands of apps to choose from in the well being space but not every app is created equal.

This list includes apps that have been developed either by or in consultation with psychologists and other mental health professionals. They are all based on research that is available in peer-reviewed publications.

We can be confident that they do what they say they do and that they will help, not harm.

3 Funny Psychology TED Talks That Can Transform Your Life

3 Funny Psychology TED Talks That Can Transform Your Life

I frequently employ the expertise of global experts to illustrate a point or two in my presentations via their TED Talks. The 'storytelling's style is fun and engaging and there's nothing like humour to open hearts and minds to new ideas.

Here are three of my favourite positive psychology TED Talks that combine humour with serious scientific ideas; ideas that can transform your life!

Positive Life: Did 'Friends' have it all wrong?

life in your 20s

I've long been interested in the way we change and learn and grow as grown ups.  Children's development is discussed ad nauseum. There are hundreds, if not thousands of books, articles, web sites, blogs, TV shows and even films that depict the changes and challenges of childhood.  

But we don't stop learning and growing when we reach eighteen.  We don't finish school, get a drivers licence and start drinking at the pub (legally) and then never learn or change or grow or develop at any point from then on.  There's a whole lot of change still to come.  Life provides an ongoing opportunity to grow and flourish, right until the very end.  

Your 20s is a big period for growth.  In the 90s and early Noughties, Friends (a TV show if you're currently under 20 or over 60 and never tune into 111 Hits on Foxtel) depicted 20-something life. There was a lot of hanging around in coffee shops, hanging around with each, living with each other, dating each other, eventually even marrying each other.  Careers were a background activity for some and non-existent for others.  There wasn't much travel and there was a lot of talk - and a lot of laughs.

Friends gave us the impression that your 20s is a throwaway period when you can pretty much hang around with your mates and not do much else.  And many of us have done that - to different degrees.

But your 20s is actually a huge time for growth and for getting yourself on track for the future, or so says Meg Jay, the clinical psychologist whose TED talk I've got for you today.  She reckons that we should being using our 20s to get going - and growing - so that we are better set up for the rest of our lives, and I reckon she's on to something.

Many years ago I wrote a book called, 'Turning 30: How to get the life you really want' with a friend and fellow psychologist, Sheila Panchal.  It was born out of our experience of friends and family, and us too, getting towards the end of our 20s and thinking, 'Faaarkk, what happens now?  I think I'm supposed to have got it all together; have a career, have a steady partner, have money, be thinking about kids, but I'm nowhere near that point.'

We were enjoying being one of the first generations to break away from the traditional expectations of marriage, home ownership, family and career building (in the Western world at least) in your 20s.  We saw it as the time to explore, experiment, inquire and adventure.  We travelled, tried different avenues of study, lived with different people, dabbled in this and that and things that maybe we shouldn't have.  But we still felt the same pressure to have 'got it all together' by 30 and that led to varying degrees of uncertainty, angst and crisis.

Meg Jay has some great ideas for how you can combine the two - use your 20s as a time of exploration and adventure and hanging with friends in coffee shops, but in a conscious mindful way that might better set up the 20-somethings of the future (my children in my case, my 20s were a looong time ago) so that they hopefully experience less angst and a more successful transition into real adulthood.

Take a look and tell me what you think? I'd love to hear your 20-something story!



Positive Life: It's All About Parents This Week

It's parents week!  Not a national initiative, just my focus for the blog this week.  I had so much fun writing to a theme last week for Mental Health Week (you can see that here) that I decided to do it all again - this time to my own chosen theme.

First up, let's be clear, this is parents week, not parenting week.  I am not going to give you tips on how to make home made playdough, build a water wall or make funny faces out of dinner vegetables (although I've tried all of these things.  The playdough is great, the water wall was of more interest to me than the kids and the vegetables? Pah! There was no fooling my boys).  Nor am I making suggestions for dealing with tantrums, bed wetting or picky eaters.  The interweb is chock full of that stuff already.  

Nope, I'm going to talk about the experience of being a parent - the good, the bad and the ugly.  I'm going to share stories - mine and other people's.  I'm going to rant a little bit about parental guilt.  There will be Self-Improvement Thursday, on Thursday, with some tips for looking after you, and of course there's a TED talk because I love a good TED talk.

In fact, I'm starting the week with Jennifer Senior's TED talk.  Jennifer is a journalist and anthropologist (the Wikipedia definition of an anthropologist is 'a person with an extensive knowledge of anthropology' - thanks for that Wiki).  Her first book, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood came out earlier this year and her TED talk made me cry.  Her suggestion that parents should live by the notion of 'first, do no harm,' attributed (perhaps not accurately) to the medical profession's Hippocratic Oath - is just brilliant.  If we all worked on the basis that as long as our kids are fed and clean and not physically or psychologically badly damaged and that whatever else we can do for them is a bonus, how much easier would this gig be?

Here's Jennifer Senior's talk.  Oh and if you're not a parent, thanks so much for reading anyway! Hopefully this week's posts will be as interesting to you as (I hope) they are to the parents reading.  After all, parents or not, we're all just people and we're all in this life together :-) 

Positive Life: Book writing and the paradox of choice

About ten years ago I wrote a book with a fellow 20-something psychologist. It was a self coaching / self help book called 'Turning 30: How to get the life you really want'. (Very relevant to me ten years ago). The writing and publishing process was in turns, torturous and exciting and very informative. I know a lot more about the publishing industry than I did before and I'm still uncertain as to whether I'd do it again.

Something I did love about the whole book writing thing was the opportunity to legitimately spend time trawling libraries and the interweb in the name of research. I have loved researching since I was a kid hunting through the World Book Encyclopedia for school projects. There's something about discovering facts, following links from book to book and now website to website and building knowledge that excites a nerdy mind like mine. 

Today there are TED talks. A whole new and interactive way to learn stuff that didn't exist when I was working on the book, and another way to lose a few hours in the name of research.

The TED talk I'm showing off today is Barry Schwartz talking about the Paradox of Choice.  It's an oldie but a goodie and it was an idea I discovered back in the book writing days of 2005.  We wrote about the challenge for almost-30-somethings having to make decisions about careers, jobs, relationships, travel and finances in the face of almost limitless choice and the anxiety that this can create.  Today we'd probably hashtag this #firstworldproblems and I think in recent years there's been a move back to simplicity that is perhaps an antidote to the paradox of choice.  But maybe it's just that I'm no longer turning 30.  

If you haven't seen it before, here's Barry talking about the paradox of choice....


And here's the UK version of our book, just in case you want to take a peek.