What is a Positive Relationship? 5 Tips from Before Midnight

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

Before-Midnight-image
Ever think about what happens after “happily ever after”? Do the characters at the end of movies live in some sort of eternal bliss and glee?

Of course not. But as viewers we don’t get to see what happens next in these formulaic Hollywood films. There are exceptions.

Enter Before Midnight, a new romance-drama starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and directed by auteur filmmaker, Richard Linklater. This is the third installment of films made about 10 years apart and follow two characters, Jesse and Celine, after their original chance encounter on a train heading to Vienna (see Before Sunrise and Before Sunset).

These films are known for engaging dialogue. Conversations that are “real,” poignant, and interesting. Characters share themselves, their ideas, and their opinions openly. They attack, praise, cajole, and surprise one another. We are carried through love and intimacy, thoughts about their relationship origins and life philosophies, the fruits and challenges of long-term commitment, and tense arguments.

Before Midnight is a quintessential “dialogue film.” This helps it be an outstanding “teacher” of positive relationships.

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Mindfulness: What You May Not Know

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

question mark with figure

I’ve had the privilege of leading hundreds of mindfulness groups over the years as well as retreats and all-day mindfulness workshops for professionals and the general public. When I ask participants and people in audiences questions relating to these points below, I end up straining my ears to hear a response. Each of these 11 observations and findings is important so hopefully this blog entry will dispel some of the silence.

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Why You Should Go See “Man of Steel”

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

Man of Steel
Superman has made a strong comeback! After several failed movie attempts with this superhero, Man of Steel brings not only viewer engagement and entertainment, but also substance.

Audiences are already familiar with Superman’s exemplary physical strength and superhuman powers but it is the non-physical strengths he displays that are most interesting. Superman (referred to as Clark Kent and Kal-El in the film) displays significant psychological strength (character strength). If he were to take the VIA Survey of strengths, it is likely his signature strengths would be

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4 Ways to Improve Yourself by Watching “The Voice”

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

Singing
The Voice is arguably the hottest program on television today. Why is the show so successful? How can you benefit from watching it?

Part of the answer to both questions can be found in findings drawn from the science of positive psychology. This scientific domain examines the research behind what makes us happy, strong, healthy, and successful. The Voice does an exemplary job at bringing some of the research findings to life. Here are four examples:

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Strengths + Passion = Happiness

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

Work happiness
I enjoy bringing my strengths to my work. I express my curiosity as I open up each new e-mail message, I express hope as I help clients work through struggles, and I express love (warmth and genuineness) with my colleagues as we discuss new ideas and process daily work happenings. This fills me with a greater passion and commitment to my work.

How about you? Do you express your highest character strengths each day at your job?

The research has been clear:

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The Boston Bombings and Other Tragedies Bring Out Our Character Strengths

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

globe with hands
Following the bombings in Boston, people rallied in bunches, offering support and care. The Red Cross received so much help they had to turn people away. Stories of bravery and kindness flooded the news and social media. Such expression of character is not an isolated event. People similarly rallied after 9/11, after recent natural disasters, and after tragic mass shootings.

Said another way, people are touched by the suffering of others and then take action. This action involves the expression of their own character strengths (e.g., kindness, leadership, bravery) to bring benefit to others.

Research has documented how tragedy seems to elevate what is best in us.

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The Dark Side of Character

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

Please Don't Go

[Spoiler alert: Please be forewarned that I reveal some key plot developments of the popular novel, Gone Girl]

As I read Gillian Flynn’s bestselling book, Gone Girl, I was not expecting to learn much about positive psychology but instead to learn more about what is often discussed in regard to this book – the mind of the psychopath.

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5 Practices for Effective Strengths-Spotting (Part 2 – Self)

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

1391301435_AAA.jpg

What are your strengths?

What is best about you?

What qualities make up who you are?

Too many times in my work as a clinical psychologist these questions would be met by blank stares from the person in front of me. And, when the question was answered at all, the response was something vague like “I like baseball” or “I’m good at cooking.” This is consistent with survey research that has found that 2/3 of people do not have a meaningful awareness of their strengths.

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Strengths-Spotting Your Way to Happiness (Part 1)

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D


Strengths-spotting is one of the best, initial activities that deepens our understanding of our strengths and the strengths of others.

There are 2 general levels to strengths-spotting:

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7 New Strategies for Happiness in the New Year

By Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D


Just in time for 2013! Looking for a New Year’s resolution? Feeling a holiday lull? Wanting to increase your happiness?

New research from the science of positive psychology has found a number of practical exercises you can do to boost your happiness and decrease your depression.

Choose one of the following 7 exercises and practice it for 1 week:

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