Stretch, snap, rest! Plus insights from IPPA

How much can you stretch yourself before something snaps?

When we stretch a muscle, it strengthens it.
When we overstretch slightly, we build muscle effectively.
When we go beyond our capacity to stretch or stretch too far for too long, it breaks and we’re out of business for a while.

Why am I telling you this?

Because on Thursday evening three weeks ago I could have stretched a little more. I was teaching on the Existential Coaching MA in London for a week ahead of flying out to Vancouver for a conference, some holiday shortly after, and celebrating my 40th Birthday, and I really did not want to miss sending out my weekly Nugget. I hadn’t missed a week since I committed to weekly emails back in October…

And it’s not that I didn’t have a choice. I chose meeting up with a good friend that evening. I did think that it’d be fine and I could pull it off, and I could have . But in that moment, as I got home and I thought about sitting down to write, it hit me with clarity:

No more. You need some rest!

And as much inspiration I had taken from being and presenting at the World Congress of Positive Psychology the week after, I found myself prioritising being with people and taking care of myself, rather than sitting down and connecting with you.

Sorry-not-sorry. I care about all of you, but I needed to take care of myself. Because I was already overstretched, and I needed to cut myself some slack.

So here I am, to make up for a few weeks of silence, with a fewshort Nuggets.

I hope you’ll find value in them. And please take care of yourself in stretching times!

With Love


New content: Positive Provocations with Robert Biswas-Diener


This conversation had been a long time coming! Thanks to Animas Centre for Coaching for making it happen. Robert is one of the earliest pioneers in positive psychology coaching, and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. And so great to run into him at the IPPA conference shortly after this came out. Nobody’s ever made me laugh harder during a panel discussion!! What a dude 😀 He’s also really excellent at helping coaches and researchers challenge their assumptions, and so he’s right up my street, and I reckon you’ll love this episode!
As always, you can watch or listen to this episode.


The testimonial to rule all testimonials

The super short nugget I had prepared for my time away was an invitation to write “the testimonial you’d love to receive from your clients”. This could well extend to the testimonial that your kids, friends, or any other person in your life that’s a stakeholder in what you do, so-to-speak) would offer you after knowing you for some time.

As an exercise, it really focuses you the qualities, skills, results and your way of being with people that you value and that you would like other people to recognize in the way that you show up.

If you take me up on this invitation, I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE you to share this with me. I’d also encourage you to hang it up somewhere where you can see it regularly. Think of it as a vision board of sorts. It doesn’t matter that it’s fabricated as its purpose is to set a direction for yourself, an intention, an aspiration of the work you value the most.

And if you have one that’s real, even better! I’d also love to see that 🙂


Insights from the IPPA World Congress on Positive Psychology


IPPA started with a bang as I got to sit on a panel with the amazing people above – from left to right: Prof. Christian van Nieuwerburgh, Dr. Suzy Green, Assoc Prof. Aaron Jarden, yours truly, and Sue Langley. 

There were many other highlights, expecially meeting so many of my professional family, which are more meaningful to me than you, so below are a few of the conceptual and intellectual highlights: 

Don Clifton (godfather of strengths-based work at Gallup) predicted that it would be a 100 year venture until happiness will be the driving force over GDP to guide countries’ policies. Robert Biswas-Diener similarly proposed to give it 100 years until we might have some sort of unified framework for what Positive Psychology Coaching is. In our times (and certainly my generation) we like results fast, when most important things take a long time. I’m reminded of Gary Vaynerchuck calling for patience ALL the time when advising hungry entrepreneurs.

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve was very inspiring. His work showed that a 1% difference in “happiness that week” led to (yes, causal, not correlational) 12% increase in sales at British Telecom. He also mentioned that they have data on 1600 companies’ employee wellbeing scores and that it’s clear from that data that wellbeing and happiness have a significant impact on productivity and corporate success. I don’t quite remember the details here but Jan-Emmanuel mentioned that stock prices of companies with happy employees rise by an average of 20%. Well worth looking into his research. Here’s a recent talk I found which surely includes some of this data.

Apparently I must see the movie Spinal Tab.

Aaron Jarden challenged the field of positive psychology demonstrating that we don’t actually have good measures for wellbeing. Given that this is one of the most central aspects in this field, it seems mad that there’s not more consensus. Here’sa special issue he’s guest-edited that deepens the topic, with an excellent introduction outlining the issue.

“Inspirational bullshit” is a legit area of scientific study! Here’s a study by a former student of mine, Esther Abel, who brilliantly presented it at this year’s IPPA. 

When we measure wellbeing, it really is contextual in terms of what makes us happier. What makes teenagers in Japan happy may not have much effect on seniors in Guatemala. So when we assess wellbeing and what matters to an individual, let’s always take into account how important each aspect of the scale is to the individual. If you’re curious about what those factors are, I gave a talk a while back outlining the major ones.

My colleague Mike Steger was on stage with 6 of the most impactful scientists in the Journal of Positive Psychology and when asked by someone how to better disseminate the research public awareness, he offered an inspiring metaphor. He talked about how runners pass the baton when they run team sprints. There’s a stretch where both runners are connecting as they pass the baton. One slows down, the other speeds up. As a metaphor for researchers and practitioners to work together, each working to their strengths and skills, but interacting so that science can inform practice, and vice versa – just beautiful!

Based on the evidence available, it is time to retire the 5 stages of grief model, says Lucy Hone!

I loved meeting Prof. Judith Mangelsdorf, fellow German Positive Psychology Coach and researcher of post-ecstatic growth! I took many things away from being invited to her workshop, but the one that stuck out was that it takes 1-2 years for post-ecstatic growth to occur, if unsupported by professional integration. I wonder how much coaching or other integration processes can accelerate this process. And I was impressed how even a 10min conversation deepened the benefits I got from a few of the amazing events of my life. Just making a list of 3-5 best moments in my life, and being invited to re-living them, was worth attending. I can only recommend it!