Happiness, Self-Help and Toxic Positivity (Ep.11)

In part two of a three-part look at the self-help industry, Dr Gary Wood and Paul Flower discuss whether self-help advice encourages toxic positivity. The episode also looks at the general theory of meritocracy, are we all equal and therefore all capable of getting the same results from our reading? Is there an over-emphasis on dramatic results? And are self-help books given to too much moralizing? This is episode 11 in the podcast series.

Based on Gary Wood’s ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing’ (published by Routledge). To read more about the book, for the UK go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd And for the US go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd

Head over to Happiness, A Sceptics Guide on Podbean or just stick around here and watch this handy video presentation. Either way, if you could do the whole ‘like’, ‘follow’ and ‘share’ thing, it would be most appreciated.

To find out more about coaching for wellbeing with Gary Wood, get in touch.

Happiness and the Self Help Industry (Ep.10)

In the first of a three-part look at the self-help industry, your hosts Dr Gary Wood and Paul Flower discuss book therapy – or bibliotherapy if you prefer. Learn all the secrets of the self-help book formula and how to read the warning signs of what to avoid. And how to find a self-help book that’s right for you.

Based on Gary’s book ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing‘ (published by Routledge). To read more about the book, for the UK go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd And for the US go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd

Head over to Podbean and check out the podast Happiness, a Sceptics guide. Or just stay here and watch this handy video:

To discuss coaching for wellbeing with Gary Wood or top ask any questions, please get in touch.

Happiness and Talking Cures for Unhappiness (Ep.09)

Ep.09. When we talk about happiness, inevitably, we must talk about unhappiness. In this episode of Happiness, a Sceptics Guide your hosts Paul Flower and psychologist Dr Gary Wood look at ‘talking cures’. How do you know if you need help? Where do you find help, and which therapy works best? Is cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT), the panacea for all ills? This episode answers these questions and more.

You can checkout this podcast at source at: https://scepticsguide.podbean.com/e/happiness-and-talking-cures-for-unhappiness-ep09/ Or, just stick around here and watch this handy video:

Based on Gary’s book ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing’ (published by Routledge). To read more about the book, for the UK go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd And for the US go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd

Happiness and How to Cope with Stress

Stress has to be the number one barrier to happiness, and this episode of ‘Happiness, A Sceptics Guide‘ considers different ways to define stress, and how to cope with it. And, it answers the question ‘Is stress always a bad thing?’ (The first of a two-part look at stress).

Please consider following the Happiness, A Sceptics Guide podcast over on Podbean. Or, stay where you are and check out this handy video:

Based on Gary Wood’s book ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing‘ (published by Routledge). To read more about the book, for the UK go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd And for the US go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd

Check out the second of this two-part look at Stress: Happiness, and Survival versus Growth.

 #happiness #stress #coping #wellbeing #wellness #psychology #coaching

Happiness and Wellbeing. What’s the difference?

In this episode of Happiness, A Sceptics Guide we compare and contrast happiness and wellbeing. It unravels some of the pop psychology terminology and presents a definition of wellbeing that aligns with a definition of stress – the balance between the challenges we face and the resources we have to meet the demands.

The podcast episode is based on Gary Wood‘s book ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing‘ (published by Routledge). To read more about the book, for the UK go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd And for the US go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd

Do follow Happiness, a Sceptics Guide over on Podbean, or wherever you find your podcasts. Or, if you stay just where you are, you can check out this handy video:

Get in touch to discuss coaching for wellbeing with Gary Wood

Check out other posts on wellbeing by Dr Gary Wood:

Happiness: The Good Life versus The Meaningful Life

The third episode of Happiness, A Sceptics Guide looks at different types of happiness. Faced with two doors ‘happiness or ‘meaning’, which one would you choose? Find out what that choice means and how you can apply this insight to improve happiness. And can you have the best of both world, a ‘the good life’ and ‘the meaningful life’? Based on Gary Wood‘s book ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing‘ (published by Routledge). To read more about the book, for the UK go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd and for the US go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd

Do check out Happiness, A Sceptics Guide over on Podbean, or wherever else you find your podcasts. Or, for the moment, stay where you are and check out this handy video:

Dedicated to Prof Ed Diener (1946 -2021) who made a monumental contribution to psychological research into happiness. We were not aware of his passing when this episode was recorded. To check out his resources on happiness visit: https://eddiener.com/

#happiness #eddiener #drhappiness #meaningfulness #goodlife #positivepsychology #psychology 

What is Happiness?

The second episode of ‘Happiness, A Sceptics Guide’, aims to answer the question ‘What is happiness?’ And, to unravel popular psychology terminology. It’s all based on Gary’s book ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing’ (published by Routledge). To read more about the book, for the UK go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd and for the US go to: https://amzn.to/3gmgukd

Follow ‘Happiness, A Sceptics Guide’ over at Podbean or stay where you are and check out this handy video:

#happiness #sceptics #psychology #coaching #wellbeing #wellness

Welcome to Happiness, A Sceptics Guide – A Podcast

Welcome to Happiness, A Sceptics Guide – a post-pandemic podcast that aims to make you happier, whatever your objections.  

For a podcast that looks at the shortcuts to happiness, it was a long time coming. Two old friends had an idea to work together on a project to help tackle mental health issues in 2009, but it took a pandemic to make it happenHappiness, A Sceptics Guide brings together self-confessed serial self-help-abuser Paul Flower and psychologist, coach and author, Dr Gary Wood for short, fortnightly 20-minute bursts of happiness and how to get it. But why did it take so long and why now? 

Dr Gary Wood explains ‘I’d just given an interview for BBC Radio Scotland on ‘How to Start Your Own Podcast’ and what the benefits might be. And as fate would have it, Paul emailed to say, ‘I know we’ve discussed it many times before, so what about now?’ As the pandemic had forced us to say no to so many things, I thought ‘why not, let’s at least give it a go. It was about changing ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ to how and when’  

Co-host Paul Flower adds ‘The tools to create podcasts have become so much more accessible these days, and as we both have broadcasting experience, and both like the sound of our own voices, it became the obvious thing to explore. But when I told a friend, their first reaction was ‘are you sure the person to talk about the secrets of happiness? But I also thought ‘why not?’. In the journey I can be patient zero, because if we can find something that works for me, it will work for anyone.’ 

The podcast handles serious issues but doesn’t take itself too seriously. What shines through is the rapport between the two hosts and a shared sense of the absurd, because part of happiness is having more fun. As so often the most profound insights in life are found among the ab-libs, tangents, false starts and mistakes.  

Happiness, A Sceptics Guide offers a series of relaxed conversations initially based on Wood’s book The Psychology of Wellbeing. Like the book, the podcast tries to bridge the gap between common sense, self-help and evidence-based psychology. It’s a journey to ‘sift the science from the snake-oil’ and offer workable short-cuts and hacks to happiness, better mental health and wellbeing. And, to make sense of the bewildering array of tools and techniques offered up by the multi-billion-dollar wellness industry.   

Most importantly, the podcast is testament to the old adage ‘It’s never too late to try something new’.  You can follow the podcast over on Podean: Happiness, A Sceptics Guide, or check out this handy video:

Based on the book ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing‘ by Gary W.Wood, published by Routledge. Check it out: UK or the US .

Is Fake News Bad For Your Health? Truth, Trust and the Psychology of Wellbeing

The response to the COVID pandemic has highlighted the importance of trust and truth in healthcare generally. I begin writing The Psychology of Wellbeing just before the first cases of COVID were recorded, and completed the final edit in the middle of the first lockdown. It was not possible to avoid discussing the pandemic but I didn’t want it to dominate the book. As events unfolded, some material from the first draft was made redundant but thankfully parallels emerged between how leaders dealt with the coronavirus crisis and how we all approach ‘everyday’ healthcare. The pandemic response also helped to shine a light on how we evaluate sources of information, against a swell of fake news, conspiracy theories and ‘alternative facts’. The following video distils some of the times from Chapter 2 (Questions of Trust) and Chapter 3 (Storytelling and Sense-making) of the book.

To buy the book visit Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Trannsciption of the video ‘Is Fake News Bad for Your Health? Truth, Trust and the Psychology of Wellbeing?

In this age of information overload, it gets ever harder to make sense of critical issues of the day, such as, ‘how can we improve our wellbeing?’And to combat this overwhelm, we skim read, scan for keywords and cherry-pick the evidence. And we use trust as a way to filter out the noise.Now we all have our trusty go-to sources of information and ones we reject. But it seems many of us have ‘trust issues.’

In the UK, a major opinion poll about trust found that two-thirds of people worry that new technology will make it impossible to know if what we are seeing, or hearing, is real.
I’m Gary Wood, author of The Psychology of Wellbeing which uses self-reflection & storytelling to explore the relationship between trust, truth, and wellness, and aims to answer the question ‘Is fake news bad for our health?

Early in the COVID crisis, the UK government came under pressure to publish the model used for its approach. And, Dr Richard Horton of The Lancet, argued, ‘This transparency is essential for . . . understanding, co-operation and trust.’ But a lack of trust is not surprising when some politicians openly decry expert knowledge or else denounce anything they disagree with as ‘fake news’. It’s not a good sign when even the definition of fake is fake. And in this ‘post-truth’ age, feelings trump facts. Or rather, the choice of facts to explain the world is led by emotion. So, if it feels right then it is ‘true enough’.And this view of the world has got in the way of tackling the Covid pandemic. A lack of trust has led to conspiracy theories, suspicion and confusion between nations. As Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization commented ‘We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an “infodemic”. Because conspiracy theories have a viral quality as believing in one makes it more likely that other theories will be accepted. And false news goes viral because people spread it.

Researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) looked at how and why news spreads on Twitter. They found that false news spreads faster and reaches up to ten times more people than does the truth. And the two key drivers are novelty and emotional reaction. As false news is more often novel and surprising, it’s more likely to shared. And it’s more likely to provoke stronger emotions such as fear and disgust. By contrast, true news is met with sadness, joy, anticipation, and trust.
So, when faced with a snippet of information that both surprises you and arouses strong negative emotions, put in some cognitive distance or what we might call ‘social distancing’ for social media’.

  • Don’t react to the emotion trigger.
  • Think. Calm down first, and check the facts.
  • And to limit the cherry-picking to support our biases, use fact check websites to get balance

But is a climate of ‘distrust’ really that bad for our health?

The Psychology of Wellbeing

Being less trusting might seem like a good survival strategy, but research shows that it can harm our psychological and physical health. It’s linked to being cynical, lacking social support, and being less willing to seek medical treatment. In contrast, patients who work in partnership with health providers to share decisions and build trust are better informed. They report greater satisfaction with health care, are more likely to stick to treatment plans and so enjoy better health.

In his 2017 talk to Google, Noam Chomsky, cognitive scientist and social critic, was asked, ‘How do you think Google can and should handle the fake news problem?’ He replied, ‘By not contributing to it’. The Psychology of Wellbeing helps you to do just that. It gives you with the tools to make sense of contradictory information around wellbeing, to empower you to ask better questions.

Useful Fact-checking websites:

To buy the The Psychology of Wellbeing visit Amazon UK or Amazon US.

About the author
Dr Gary Wood
is a Chartered psychologist, solution-focused life coach, advice columnist and broadcaster. He is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has more than 20 years’ experience teaching and applying psychology, in universities, in corporate settings and in the media for magazines, radio and television. He is based in Birmingham and Edinburgh, UK.

Get in touch with Gary for your free consulation to discuss coaching for wellbeing, or simply to ask a question:

How do we define wellbeing? And what does it mean to you? Are you well?

One way we can bridge the gap between ‘common sense’ or everyday ideas, pop psychology and academic knowledge is to look at working (operational) definitions of key concepts – in this case, ‘wellbeing’ – to put us on the same page.

In the following short video, I discuss how we define wellbeing and how the psychological approach differs from everyday chats about wellness. And a transcript of the video follows.

Buy ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing’ at Amazon UK or Amazon US

Transcript of the video How do we define wellbeing? And what does it mean to you?

Some years ago, I had a comical stay at a bed-and-breakfast guesthouse. And on greeting the owner with ‘Good morning. How are you today?’ he replied, ‘Do you really care?’
And, at first, I was taken aback. But it is a valid point. In our routine chats about wellness, how DO we tell genuine interest from social ritual?

As more of us now spend more time thinking and talking about wellbeing, it’s crucial to ask what it is. Because if we can’t define it, then how can we understand it to improve it?

I’m Gary Wood, author of The Psychology of Wellbeing, which uses self-reflection and storytelling to explore what makes a ‘good life’.
It begins by looking at our everyday exchanges on wellness, to reveal a complex process at play. Each time, we tap into OUR definition of wellness and edit pre-existing scripts to tell our life stories as we go. And these accounts vary by our mood, by setting, by time, and with different people, as we choose to give the full story, the headline news or a just stock reply.

Now this vague approach might not matter in everyday chats, but in academic research, clarity is vital. Our goal is to study wellbeing in a systematic way to isolate the personal view from the general principles, if we can. So, a working definition puts us all on the same page.

At its most basic, wellbeing is just ‘feeling well’. It’s your experience of ‘health, happiness and prosperity’. And it includes your mental health, life satisfaction, meaning in life and how you cope with stress.

It is useful to think of wellbeing as a state of balance. That is, how well your personal resources meet your life challenges.
Also, at the centre, we need to define the thing that’s being well – the self. It’s that constant and predictable sense of you as a ‘separate, experiencing being’. Because in psychology, our sense of ‘who we are’ plays a crucial role in social interactions, motivation and our decisions around wellbeing.

Now as you unpack YOUR personal definition of wellness, it describes a widening circle from self to others. You might start with health, wealth, leisure, work-status, and relationships. Then extend your view to where you live, and community. And then wider still to the economy, the state of the environment, and the trust you put in governments.

Now, we’ll all have varying degrees of control on these aspects of wellbeing – from a lot to almost none. And much of our experience is shaped or framed by various intersecting factors, such as age, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

The Psychology of Wellbeing offers a subtle nod to a self-help book and uses mindfulness in a more critical way. It invites you to reflect on what wellbeing means to you? What factors confer a wellbeing-advantage for you, the knock-on effects for others, and what impedes your wellness story? And crucially, it helps you to explore what to do with these insights.

Buy ‘The Psychology of Wellbeing’ at Amazon UK or Amazon US

About the author
Dr Gary Wood is a Chartered psychologist, solution-focused life coach, advice columnist and broadcaster. He is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has more than 20 years’ experience teaching and applying psychology, in universities, in corporate settings and in the media for magazines, radio and television. He is based in Birmingham and Edinburgh, UK.

Get in touch to discuss life coaching for wellbeing: