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Positive Psychology by Bridget Grenville-Cleave

"Evidence suggests that around 40% of our happiness is determined by intentional activities, that is, the thing we do every day."

"For generations, psychologists gave all their attention to the negative sides of life - conditions like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and post-traumatic stress disorder. But that began to change two decades ago [...]. What emerged [...] was the new science of positive psychology, which doesn't just study what makes happy, healthy people tick but translates those findings into methods for improving everyone's sense of well-being."

In this book Bridget Grenville-Cleave introduces her recommendations, based on scientific research, for every area of our lives. Therefore the content covers these and a lot more points:

  • What is Happiness?

  • Positive Emotions

  • Positive Relationships

  • Meaning and Purpose

  • Character Strengths

  • Choice

  • Gratitude

  • Motivation and Goals

  • Physical Exercise, etc.

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities

(Aldous Huxley)

This statement didn't surprise me as it already was part of many other books that I have read and therewith saw it more clearly in my own life. But as the book goes on it explains how that is and how it works.

One of the introduces Positive Psychology Models is the one of Well-Being by Martin Seligman.

It shows how Well-Being consists of 5 separate elements, as shown in the diagrams below.

Four out the five points seemed obvious, but to read about "Engagement" surprised me. Though it does make sense, doesn't it?


Remember the last time you got lost in a task? In my younger years I used to get in "the zone" whenever I did my math homework or later physics & mechanical engineering tasks. I got totally lost in the world of numbers and formulas to solve the problem. Not even my dreams were safe.

Nowadays it's usually DIY projects around the house, problem solving at work, creating content, photography, reading a good book, etc. Though the task can be totally exhausting, one is so focused and doesn't want to stop.


Isn't that fascinating?


I changed my job last year and though the workload is so much higher and the pace so much faster, which at the end of the day is extremally exhausting, I don't regret it at all. Every day I get into my "work zone" and time just rans by so fast. If you enjoy what you are doing, the engagement can directly raise your well-being. Of course, I will be honest that there are also days where the stress becomes too much. But... I'd rather take a few days with too much stress, then not enough. Because that bring it's own issues over time.


It is so fascinating to see how theoretical models actually make sense in the personal life.

Another astonishing find within the book was the Duration of Neglect.

Duration of Neglect - Barrier 2 to Well-Being

The time of a positive or negative experience hardly matters. More important are the intensity of the peak of positive / negative emotion and how the experience ended.

Don't believe it?

Think of a 20min dental procedure. The procedure itself is painful and unpleasent. But if the pain at the end is less severe and we maybe leave with a smile because the dentist told us a joke, then we will remember the procedure as more favorably than the same procedure with the same pain level but timewise only half as long.

Maybe that's why as a kid I used to get a treat afterwards. Technically not the best to give sugar to kids after a dentist treatment, I guess, but it sure made me happier then and the bad experience of the dentist suddenly wasn't remembered as bad at all.

Who is Bridget Grenville-Cleave?

"MSc, MBA, FCCA Bridget Grenville-Cleave is the director of Workmad Ltd, which supports organizations and individuals in improving their performance using applied positive psychology, and a founder member of the International Positive Psychology Association. She is one of a handful of professionals in Europe to have qualified with the MSc in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of East London. "*

I found this fascinating interview with her about "Happiness Secrets":

Would I recommend this book?

Absolutely, yes. It gives well researched information and that bite-sized.

Throughout the chapters little "Think about it", "Try it now" and "Case study" give further information and tasks about the topic, followed by a "Remember this!!!" paragraph to summarize the important facts of the chapter.

Where to find her?

Her website:


  • Introducing Positive Psychology: A Practical Guide, 2021

  • Creating The World We Want To Live In: How Positive Psychology Can Build a Brighter Future, 2019

  • 101 Activities for Happiness Workshops, 2016

  • 100 Ways to Happiness: Expert Advice to Feed Your Mind, Body and Soul, 2015

  • Live Happy: 100 Simple Ways to Fill Your Life With Joy, 2012 and many more (link to book overview)


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