Category Archives: being Meaningful

Dr Russ Harris, ACT (Acceptance and commitment therapy) specialist, talks about the importance of acceptance in all aspects of life.

What are the top New Year’s resolutions for ‎2011? Should you consider them and find yours? While the order of the top New Year’s resolutions changes from year to year, and from source to source, these are some common evergreens as highlighted by

1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends
2. Fit in Fitness
3. Lose weight
4. Quit Smoking
5. Enjoy Life More
6. Quit Drinking
7. Get Out of Debt
8. Learn Something New
9. Help Others
10. Get Organized

What are our New Year’s resolutions ‎2011 tips? We’ll provide them the AmAreWay :-) AmAre in Italian, means “to love”; in English, interconnectedness: (I)Am (we) are. As a framework for success, transition, and happiness, AmAre stands for being:

* A – Aware and Accepting
* M – Meaningful and Motivated
* A – Active and Attentive
* R – Resilient and Respectful
* E – Eating properly and Exercising

We become Aware of current conditions, resources, strengths, goals: what is our priority for 2011? Changing one aspect involves changing its components as well, however we need to keep focus: we cannot change/do everything at once. Once we are more aware, we decide to be Accepting and appreciate the qualities which are already there. We all have rich qualities!

We see what is Meaningful for us, instead of making a resolution just because it seems everyone else is. We become Motivated to implement it, here and now.

We are Active in cultivating our resolution, and Attentive about results and feedback from action.

We Resilient in face of difficulties, or simply when things take longer than expected to be achieved. Remember, the first month is very important when it comes to implement resolutions, so let’s make sure each day contributes to our committment. And we are a;sp Respectful, because we are aware other people have their own goals and resolutions as well.

We consider Eating properly and Exercising to support our course of action. Proper food and regular exercise re-energize
our mind and body.

And, above all, happy new year!


The Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project ( aimed to, amongst other things, ‘identify the wellbeing equivalent of “five fruit and vegetables a day”.’ Based on an extensive review of the evidence they came up with:
1. Connect… with the people around you.
2. Be active… find a physical activity you enjoy that suits your level of mobility and fitness… and do it!
3. Take notice… be curious. Savour each moment. Reflect on your experiences to help you appreciate what really matters to you.
4. Keep learning… try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Set a challenge you enjoy achieving.
5. Give … practice intentional acts of kindness. Show gratitude.

Nice. These truths about how to live a good life are fairly obvious. It interests me how often I need to be reminded of them if I am to actually do them.

I would also add a sixth ‘serving’ – without this one, the others are pretty meaningless:
6. Develop Psychological Flexibility:

The ability to contact the present moment

fully and without defence

as a conscious human being

engaged in life as it is – not as your mind says it is –

and, based on what the situation affords,

changing or persisting in behaviour

in the service of chosen values (Steve Hayes)

The evidence for the association between psychological flexibility and emotional well being is becoming pretty compelling.

Rachel Collis is Australian, and has been working in the area of supporting people to create rich and meaningful lives for over 20 years. On she provides suggestions about building well-being based on current research in psychology, coaching and personal development.

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation – Dan Siegel Google Tech Talks presentation on “Mindsight”
Dr. Dan Siegel gives a presentation on “Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation” at Google Tech Talks:

An interesting article by Paul T.P. Wong helps us in assessing strength and scope of purpose. He lists ten types of purpose:

1. Vision/Mission
2. Transcendental
3. Societal
4. People
5. Efficient process
6. Quality products
7. Long-term goals
8. Short-term goals
9. Projects
10. Tasks

and then he assesses them using a PURE approach. Full information available on

A course in happiness: book

November 15, 2010

A course in happiness, meaning, motivation, and well-being: how to be happier, purpose-driven and flourish” is our new book which offers tools to assess one’s well-being, and approaches to live a happier, purpose-driven and flourishing life. It will be released in early December, right in time to facilitate awareness, motivation and action with your new year resolutions :-)

A course in happiness, meaning, motivation, and well-being: how to be happier, purpose-driven and flourish – Book release

A course in happiness, meaning, motivation, and well-being” is different from other well-being books, because it offers a framework which is, at the same time, coherent enough to be easily remembered and implemented, and also flexible enough to be applied in different context and aspects of life. Click here to read the full story, see the book’s index, etc.

As reported on the success of efforts to help families in crisis depends on the ability to match intervention plans with families’ strengths and preferences. […]

We have spent the last few years traveling around the United States and Canada, teaching the wraparound process and how to use family strengths, preferences, and cultures to develop truly individualized plans of care. The good news is that virtually every institution with which we work—juvenile justice, education, child welfare, mental health, and public health—has a section of their plan of care that acknowledges child and family strengths. The bad news is that it appears the plans are still based largely on the child’s and family’s deficits and that the attempts to discover their strengths are separate from the plan, rather than forming the framework of the intervention (Duchnowski & Kutash, 1996).

This article includes instructional materials and a self-paced test to expose the reader to discovering strengths and to teach strengths-based planning. The case study used as a basis for the test is a composite built from our experiences with individual families who received the best practice available from the wraparound process.

Performing Strengths Discoveries
The wraparound process is based on a philosophy in which services are highly individualized to meet the needs of children and families (Burchard & Clarke, 1990; VanDenBerg & Grealish, 1996). In the wraparound process, a “facilitator” (a case manager, lead teacher, etc.) works with the family to discover their strengths, set goals, determine major needs, and develop strengths-based options.

Any assessment based solely on deficits and problems lacks balance (Kutash & Rivera, 1996). Although a family may seem to an outsider to be in complete chaos, there almost always is good news as well. It is important to remember that people live in the context of their own histories, which contain both positive and negative information. One member of a family does not determine the character of the rest of the family. One period of time in a person’s life does not necessarily predict that person’s entire future. A diagnosis of mental illness, a negative social history, a relapse, or an incident of criminal behavior cannot possibly describe a person fully enough to know what might be helpful in remediating the situation.

The primary skill for the wraparound facilitator in a strengths discovery is the ability to have a conversation with another person. A strengths discovery is not done as a formal assessment. It is an interactive “chat” between a facilitator and a family or family member. In this chat, as in any conversation between two people, both parties share stories, laugh, and generally begin developing a relationship of trust and respect. The strengths discovery chat begins to break down the traditional “one up, one down” status of professional to client. The chat should be natural, informal, and reciprocal.

It often is difficult to get children and parents to talk about their strengths. Some people are raised to view talking about strengths as bragging. In addition, some family members may be so focused on the negative information that they find it difficult to address strengths. Thus it may be necessary to let a person talk about their concerns and fears before they will talk about their strengths. However, it is important to be persistent and thorough about moving as quickly as possible into a discussion of the good news.

It makes sense to start a strengths discovery by letting people know that you are trying something different and that it may feel a bit uncomfortable at first. It may be helpful to model the sharing of this type of information by discussing some similar details from your own experience.

The test, respondents’ answers and more information are available on

Caring about others faciliates our happiness: this is a way we can summarize a working paper published on by researchers Lara B. Aknin, Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, Elizabeth W. Dunn, John F. Helliwell, Robert Biswas-Diener, Imelda Kemeza, Paul Nyende, Claire Ashton-James, Michael I. Norton

From the abstract: this research provides the first support for a possible psychological universal: human beings around the world derive emotional benefits from using their financial resources to help others (prosocial spending). Analyzing survey data from 136 countries, we show that prosocial spending is consistently associated with greater happiness. To test for causality, we conduct experiments within two very different countries (Canada and Uganda) and show that spending money on others has a consistent, causal impact on happiness. In contrast to traditional economic thought—which places self-interest as the guiding principle of human motivation—our findings suggest that the reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts.

These kind of researchers are very beneficial in terms of being more aware. What about a research concerning how dedicating time to people facilitates our happiness as well?

Dan Gottlieb gives an inspiring opinion about the pursuit of happiness:

“The U.S. Declaration of Independence gives us the right to pursue happiness. That’s all well and good, but are we finding that the pursuit of happiness can make us miserable?

In today’s culture more people are pursuing happiness and not succeeding, leaving them frustrated and living with a sense of failure. Making matters worse, the pursuit of happiness can make us self-absorbed, which is guaranteed to make us unhappy!

Even though we have the right to pursue happiness, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Most of us don’t know how to achieve happiness. We think if we have enough wealth, we will be happy, but that doesn’t work. We think if our children are successful, we will be happy, so we push them to be successful and then everyone is unhappy.”

There is a lot of wisdom in these few sentences: the craving for happiness is leading to an even MEaner society. The answer is not in chasing happiness, it is in living happily. Thanks to Dan for his article, which you can read on