Elderly couple walking together

How to Build Love that Lasts with Suzie Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski

In the movies, happily ever after comes pretty easily. In real life? Not so much. But the husband and wife team of Suzann Pileggi Pawelski, a writer with a Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and James Pawelski, Ph.D., professor of Practice and Director of Education in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, have learned a few things about what it takes to be “Happy Together.” That’s the name of their new book, Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Lasts, and in this podcast they share the secrets of what it takes to create deep, lasting love. What you'll learn in this episode: How to bring out the best in yourself and your partner The importance of prioritizing positivity in your relationship How to go on a "strengths date" Links and resources mentioned in this episode: Purchase their book Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Lasts. Check out their website here. Follow them on Facebook.
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Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Suzie Pileggi Pawelski is the "Science of Well-Being" blogger and contributing editor for Live Happy magazine. She has a Master's in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and has written for Scientific American Mind as well as other publications.
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Home » Contributors Featured Authors Shawn Achor Senia Maymin Margaret Greenberg Nicholas Kraft Michelle Gielan All Authors By Last Name: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | p | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z A Shawn Achor B Derek Beckno Sandra Bilbray Amy Blankson C Joseph Cardillo, Ph.D. Shay Castle Laura Coppedge Breck Costin D Scott Douglas F Paula Felps G Michelle Gielan Margaret Greenberg K Daniel Kahneman Stacy Kaiser Meghan Keener Nicholas Kraft L Dr. Clarence Lee, Jr. Shelley Levitt Chris Libby M Senia Maymin Darrin McMahon, Ph.D. Michelle McQuaid Ellen Michaud Dr. Wendy Mogel Jennifer Moss P Suzann Pileggi Pawelski R Gretchen Rubin S Adam Shell Betsy Simnacher Lisa Steele Donna Stokes W Sherry Lee White Emily Wise Miller Y Kym Yancey
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happy couple.

Love and Happiness

In fairy tales, lasting love just happens. But in real life, healthy habits are what build happiness over the long haul. What follows is an excerpt from Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts. Written by positive psychology experts and husband-and-wife team Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James O. Pawelski, this is the first book to explain how you can use the principles of positive psychology to create thriving romantic relationships. *** As important as positive emotions are for us as individuals, they may be even more important for our relationships. They help us forge strong connections with others by breaking down boundaries that separate us from each other. By broadening our attention in ways that help us see ourselves as less distinct from others, they allow us to create all kinds of relationships, including romantic ones. When we are in romantic relationships we desire to expand ourselves by including our partner or spouse within our self and we associate that expansion of our self with the other. Overlapping Circles of Self This influential self-expansion model of love is based on the research of leading relationship scientist Arthur Aron, professor of psychology at Stony Brook University. Aron argues that self-expansion is a catalyst for positive emotions. He and his colleagues use pairs of overlapping circles to ask couples about their relationship quality. On one end of their scale, the pair of circles does not overlap at all, and at the other end, the circles overlap almost completely. The researchers have asked thousands of couples to pick which pair of circles best depicts how they feel about their relationship. The more overlap an individual feels with his or her partner, the better the relationship is likely to fare. This simple measure has been more effective than more complex surveys and interviews at predicting which couples will stay together and which will break up. While self-expansion triggers positivity, Barbara Fredrickson, Kenan Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the leading researcher on positive emotions, finds it works the other way around, as well. In a variety of experiments, she has found that even lab-induced positive emotions can help people see more overlap between themselves and others. These emotions can help people feel closer and more connected to their loved ones. And the more you continually kindle positive feelings in your relationships, the more connected and happy you feel overall. Our Contagious Emotions Another way positive emotions can enhance relationships is through contagion. Just as we can pass colds along to our partners through physical contagion, so we can pass along our feelings to our partners through emotional contagion. Ever notice how when you spend time with your partner, you often wind up feeling the emotions he or she is experiencing? Emotional contagion is rather complex and often happens below the level of our consciousness. It results from the fact that we are built to mimic each other. As infants, we start mimicking our parents soon after we are born, behavior that is critical for our development and constitutes a primary pathway to learning and growing throughout our lives. Emotional contagion results from our tendency to copy or synchronize our facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and behaviors with those around us, and as a result take on their emotional landscape. So although the underlying processes are different, we can talk about catching emotions from others, just as we can talk about catching their colds. And just as there are those who are more susceptible to catching colds from others, there are those who are more sensitive than others to their emotional environment, and thus more likely to pick up the emotions of those around them. This experience, of course, is even more common than the common cold. How many times have you found yourself in a situation in which you are doing fine, but then you spend some time with a partner who is not doing fine? Soon you begin picking up the other person’s negative emotions, and before you know it, you are not doing fine, either. Your partner’s negative emotions have spread to you, and you are now feeling them yourself. How Emotions Spread Researchers have studied this phenomenon by various means and have documented ways in which emotional contagion can result in behavior change. One such researcher is Sigal Barsade, now professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She and her colleagues conducted an experiment with ninety-two college undergraduates, bringing them into a lab and randomly assigning them to twenty-nine groups of two to four students each to simulate a managerial exercise. In some of the groups, she also included a research confederate, an actor trained to display a negative mood. Before beginning the managerial exercise, participants completed a mood questionnaire rating how they felt right at that moment. Each participant, including the confederate, took turns giving a presentation. Immediately afterward, participants completed another questionnaire with the same mood items they had rated previously. They were also independently rated by video coders trained to recognize emotion through facial expression, verbal tone, and body language. Sure enough, the groups with the research confederate became more negative over time, with lower levels of cooperation, decreased perceived performance, and more conflict as compared to the other groups in the study. . This indicates that negative emotions can not only spread to those around us but also negatively affect behavior and performance. This study and others like it show us how important it is to be aware of our emotional states. The negative emotions we are feeling can easily spread to our partners and this can affect not just how we feel but also how we behave. Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski, MAPP and James O. Pawelski, Ph.D. © 2018 by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James O. Pawelski. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Suzann (“Suzie”) Pileggi Pawelski (MAPP) holds a Master of Applied Positive Psychology degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a freelance writer and well-being consultant specializing in the science of happiness and its effects on health and relationships. Suzie blogs for Psychology Today and writes the “Science of Well-being” column for Live Happy, where she is also a contributing editor. James O. Pawelski, PhD, James O. Pawelski, PhD, is Professor of Practice and Director of Education in the Positive Psychology Center and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Principal Investigator on a three-year, $2.5M grant from the Templeton Religion Trust on “The Humanities and Human Flourishing.” Together, Suzie and James give Romance & Research® workshops around the world. Go to buildhappytogether.com to interact with the authors.
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Creative kid

Know Your Kids’ Strengths

Lea Waters, Ph.D., the Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and the president of the International Positive Psychology Association, has witnessed the powerful effects of strengths on students through her award-winning work with schools over the past decade. Lea knew that using strengths at home could be even more powerful and began applying them with her kids to help foster optimism and resilience. Her book is The Strength Switch: How the New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Can Help Your Child and Your Teen to Flourish. LIVE HAPPY: What is strength-based parenting? LEA WATERS: Strength-based parenting (SBP) is an approach that focuses first on your child’s strengths—their talents, positive qualities, what your child does well—before attending to their faults and shortcomings. Rather than putting your attention on fixing what’s wrong with your kids, it’s about switching your focus to amplify what’s right. LH: How did you come up with the strength switch and how does it work? LW: Once I trained myself what to look for, I could see strengths easily and everywhere. This was when life was calm and happy and my brain could focus. However, when I was stressed and tired or when my kids were acting out, I found it hard to see their strengths. I needed a real-time mental tool to short-circuit the negativity. I came up with the strength switch. I literally picture a switch and watch it flick inside my head to turn the spotlight off the negative and on the positive. It reminds me that to be a successful strength-based parent, I need to look at what my kids have done right before I look at what they’ve done wrong. LH:What results have you found? LW: My parenting is more intentional, coherent and consistent. My children understand they have strengths that can be used to help them navigate tough times and make the most of the good times. They can also see the strengths in others, enabling them to form strong relationships and help others shine. My research shows that when teenagers have strength-focused parents, they report better psychological outcomes, including greater life satisfaction, increased positive emotions such as joy and hope, enhanced understanding of their own strengths and decreased stress. Strengths help teens meet homework deadlines, deal with friendship issues and cope better with stress. Listen to our podcast with Lea Waters: Read more about strengths: Put Your Strengths to Work! Read more about parenting: What Great Parents Do Differently Suzann Pileggi Pawelsiholds a master's in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and is a contributing editor toLiveHappy. Her first book,Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts,written with her husband, James Pawelski, Ph.D., comes out in January 2018.
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Pilgrim on the Camino de Campostela

The Pilgrim’s Progress

Eager to reach my destination, I raced ahead of my group, climbing up and down steep hills in the 100-degree heat as the sun beat down on my tired body. Sweating profusely, I realized my water supply was dwindling and began to fret. Would my water run out? Would I suffer heatstroke and deliriously wander off the path? “Stop!” I told myself, realizing I had a choice about which mental path to take—a way out of this negative thinking. I took a few deep, focusing breaths and remembered to “put things into perspective,” tapping into recent resilience training. I then shifted my attention instead to the best thing that could happen and focused on the most probable outcome. This calming exercise helped me realize I was catastrophizing. There was no evidence to support the fear that I would meet my untimely death. I had trained hard and survived in the heat with little water in the past. There was no reason why I couldn’t overcome this challenge. With a fresh mind, I examined my choices. I decided to keep going since I still had some energy and couldn’t be certain whether the group was right behind me or if they had any water to spare. I rationed what remained of my water and plodded onward. Two hours later, I reached the first albergue (hostel), exhausted and dehydrated, but feeling a sense of accomplishment. All of this, and it was just day one of my journey. Confronting Challenges I was invited to hike more than 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James, the centuries-old path that meanders through quaint European villages to the shrine of the apostle St. James in Santiago in northwestern Spain in the summer of 2009. In preparation for the trek, I hiked Vermont’s Green Mountains to acclimate my body and read Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage to shape expectations. While prepared physically, I hadn’t envisioned the enormous mental toll of the trip, so I was especially fortunate to have just earned a master’s of applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania that I could put into practice. Positive psychology emerged as a field of study in 1998 at the University of Pennsylvania with Martin Seligman, Ph.D., leading the way. At the time, Martin was president of the American Psychological Association. Positive psychology is the scientific study of strengths that help individuals and communities thrive. It celebrates what is good and emphasizes that we can choose to flourish to live our best possible lives. That mental training proved invaluable throughout the trek. On average, we hiked 10 hours a day, every day, for nearly a week. I hiked over 100 miles—the equivalent of four marathons—in six days! Not to mention the 30-plus-pound pack, overstuffed despite specific advice otherwise, that I toted on my back. As I left Ponte de Lima, Portugal’s oldest city, on the first day, I was excited to spot the first yellow arrow marking our starting point. Our group created a game to see who could find the yellow arrows first. We’d find them painted onto tree stumps, affixed to road signs perched high above our heads and imprinted onto centuries-old facades. These vibrant yellow arrows guided us in the right direction, shepherding us to the Camino de Santiago as they have for millions of pilgrims over centuries. Many times, I feared I had taken a wrong turn and was lost. Just as I’d frantically begin searching along cobblestone streets, dirt roads and wooded pathways for the next arrow, it would magically appear, a beacon assuring me I was on track. Putting Positive Psychology Into Practice While we might not have yellow arrows pointing the way, positive psychology does give us important guidance on which mental paths to choose. This marathon hike was a real-world example of how I could choose healthier thoughts and actions, rather than wallow in a helpless state of pity, overwhelmed by negative emotions. The first two days, we “warmed up” by hiking about 16 miles each day. On the third day, we trekked 25 miles, and then a whopping 35 miles the following day, at which point I almost hit a wall. During the final hour of that day’s hike, every muscle in my legs ached, and I experienced spasms in my feet. And to compound matters, it began to rain. Hard. Too exhausted to stop for even a moment (if I did, I might not be able to continue), I left my rain slicker in my pack and plodded on as the drops beat down on my worn body. I began to feel defeated. I noticed myself becoming resentful of my fellow traveling companions for plotting such an unreasonably long hike (35 miles!). Then, suddenly I stopped in my tracks. I was at a crucial moment. I could freak out and downward spiral into negativity, or I could change my thinking and do something positive in the moment. Aha! I realized I had a choice. Focusing on the Positive I shifted my attention from the throbbing pain in my legs to the beautiful flowers that surrounded me in the vineyards. By broadening my perspective, I was able to marvel at nature’s awesome beauty. I reached for my camera and started snapping pictures of the flowers. Soon, I noticed more and more exquisite flowers that seemed to emerge out of nowhere—tall, regal purple flowers waving in the wind and small, simple, white flowers with delicate petals. As I focused my camera on them, they slowly transformed into magnificently intricate creations. Once I focused on positivity, it moved into the foreground and my pain subsided. The beauty of it is that we can decide which to see. I also did some anticipatory savoring—another positive psychology concept—of the warm shower that awaited me when I reached the albergue. I looked forward to the fine albariño wine and a sumptuous meal of sautéed broccoli, green peppers, mushrooms and cannelloni beans that would be prepared by “Chef” Delvino, as we fondly referred to our fellow pilgrim, due to his ability to whip up a delicious meal with a few simple ingredients. I also listened to my favorite classical music, like Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” on my iPod to increase my positive emotions during the particularly challenging times of the journey. Additionally, I reframed what was happening into a positive experience. No longer did I see the storm as a nuisance, but rather a welcome pleasure, reveling in the cool rain as it soothed my hot, achy body. Read more: The Science of Savoring It worked! Not only did I finish the last hour of the most difficult day’s journey, but also I mustered up enough strength to get through the following day’s 20-mile trek and the final 10-mile stretch to Santiago on the sixth day. My new Portuguese friends and fellow pilgrims embraced one another and shared tears of joy upon reaching our goal of hiking the long and laborious Camino de Santiago. It was one of my most rewarding physical, mental and spiritual experiences. I learned how much untapped strength I have. Regardless of how difficult a situation appears, we always have a choice of how we react, respond and feel. I realized how positive choices enable us to push ourselves beyond our preconceived limits, making us stronger than we ever imagined. What I Learned Along the Way Many life lessons emerged throughout my pilgrimage and continue to unfold in my life today. I coined the term “overthinking-anticipating-maximizer” to describe how I had habitually lived most of my life. The phrase depicts a thinking and behavioral style that hasn’t always served me well. I now realize this ritualized pattern of living isn’t written in stone. Rather, it’s composed of learned habits I created, but ones I can unlearn by replacing them with healthier habits. While it will take practice, it is something I can change, resulting in a better state of mind. Here’s a look at each of the three words that have defined my behavior to date: Overthinking. I tend to think quickly and to excess, which can be toxic. Rather than taking simple, sequential steps forward, my mind travels at such rapid speeds that it often veers dangerously off course, taking me on an arduous route. I realized this self-imposed daily mental race exhausts me far more than any physical race I could ever possibly run. And I regularly long for a “mental holiday.” The hike taught me to slow down and focus on taking one step at a time. Practicing these techniques helps me tame my out-of-control thoughts and experience a more peaceful state of mind and better quality of life. Anticipating. Being naturally zestful with a tendency to anticipate, I get easily excited about upcoming opportunities and promising events. Simultaneously, this future-focused preoccupation triggers unnecessary anxiety when confronting uncharted territory. I often get mired in negative what-ifs. What if I run out of water? What if I get lost? What if my throbbing toe falls off? Hiking the Camino helped me practice redirecting my attention to what I could do now in the present. Further, being grounded in the present while truly savoring the moment unleashed my potential to experience awe. Now, when my head starts to spin out of control, I ask myself, “What is the smallest positive thing I can do now that will make the greatest positive impact in the moment?” Reminding myself that I have choices helps prevent me from getting stuck in negative thinking traps. Read more: Jack Kornfield Finds Freedom in the Moment Maximizer. I’ve always prided myself on being the best. After several conversations with psychologist Barry Schwartz discussing his renowned and relevant research, I learned that this intense striving for the best makes me a “maximizer,” as opposed to a “satisficer,” who is content with good enough. When advised to pace myself the first day of the Camino, that wasn’t good enough for me. I wasn’t satisfied with simply getting to Santiago; I wanted to get there  first—and in record time. So, what did I do? I ran…uphill! Racing ahead of my companions at full-force not only wiped me out, but also robbed me of opportunities to make personal connections (not to mention share water). Savoring Life Eight years later, as a married mother with a charming 6-year-old boy, I’m living a vastly different life than the single, free-spirited New Yorker who set out for Santiago. However, the indelible lessons I learned on the importance of slowing down, savoring and simplifying continue to inform the way I live today. Having always been a bit of a speed demon—a fast walker, talker and thinker—I am practicing decelerating my daily pace (to the delight of my more deliberate-minded philosopher husband) and I relish more meaningful moments grounded in the present. To further hone these healthy habits, I recently completed an eight-week mindfulness-based stress management course, along with my husband, taught by Michael Baime, director of the Penn Program for Mindfulness. Now, I’m taking more intentional steps to carry only the day’s essentials, rather than lugging around yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s worries. And with a lighter load, I’m better able to focus my attention on the choices and people who matter most to me, like my husband and son. All the while reminding myself that life, like Camino de Santiago, is not a destination, but a journey to be enjoyed. Suzann Pileggi Pawelsi holds a master's in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and is a contributing editor to Live Happy. Her first book, Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts, written with her husband, James Pawelski, Ph.D., comes out in January 2018.
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Couple holding hands

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Although the movies would have us believe otherwise, a long, happy marriage isn’t a matter of simply finding the right person. Lasting love requires commitment and developing healthy habits that can sustain through both good and bad times. It’s not just about romance; as it turns out, there’s actually a science to making love last. James O. Pawelski, Ph.D., and Suzann Pileggi Pawelski are more than just positive psychology experts; they are a married couple who looks at relationships through the lens of positive psychology. Their new book, Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts, shares their insight along with innovative strategies for building stronger, healthier unions. LIVE HAPPY: Many books explain how to achieve greater happiness; what made you want to write about the topic of happiness specifically as it relates to couples? JAMES & SUZANN: Although there were many excellent research studies demonstrating the potential to help couples, no one had put them together into an easily accessible format or book. There was a lot of interest on the topic, but not much out there in the popular media. We saw writing the book together as a shared project we could undertake to help develop and strengthen our own marriage while simultaneously providing a resource that could help other couples, as well. LH: What’s the biggest misconception people have about happiness and relationships? J&S: That “happily ever after” just happens. That’s not the case, except in fairy tales and films. LH: How does your book help change that perception? J&S: It demonstrates, through scientific research and real-life examples, that healthy habits are what build happiness over the long haul. Becoming happy together is an ongoing process comprised of sustained effort and conscious cultivation of healthy habits. LH: Were there any new things that you learned about your relationship through the process of writing this book together? J&S: That our unique strengths that initially attracted us to one another and helped build our bond are also the strengths that, when not understood and respected in one another, can cause pain and misunderstanding. LH: Aspects of each of you shine through in this book—and really serve as a great illustration of how you apply the give and take in a relationship. How did you work through any challenges that arose from developing/writing this book? J&S: We practiced mindfulness meditation. At times when we needed a breather, that’s what we literally did. We took a break and some deep breaths. We were then able to return to the task at hand and work together better. LH: Although it’s about happiness as a couple, this book also is a great introduction to positive psychology for those who haven’t yet experienced it. How do you think people can use these relationship lessons in other areas of their lives? J&S: We feel that the interaction model of strengths that we developed—an approach that focuses on not just how we express love, gratitude and kindness, for example, but also how we respond to them—are important for all relationships. This approach can be used and practiced in our daily interactions, not just with our spouses and romantic partners but also with family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. LH: What’s the No. 1 thing you hope readers take away from your book? J&S: Building love that lasts takes effort. It doesn’t just happen. And that effort needs to be well directed. A good way to direct that effort is to find and feed the good in yourself and your partner, rather than focusing on problems and what’s wrong in the relationship. And scientific research in positive psychology gives specific, effective ways of finding and feeding the good. Read more: Love and Happiness and The Power of Passion Listen to our podcast: How to Build Love That Lasts With Suzann Pawelski and James Pawelski Paula Felpsis the Science Editor for Live Happy magazine.
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Astronauts in Love

33 Ideas for Romance

The excitement wrapped up in sentimental gestures can keep us on cloud nine for days. Here are 33 ideas to sprinkle more romance in your life. 1. Watch Titanic. 2. LISTEN TO “CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE” BY ELVIS PRESLEY. 3. “Love is a reality which is born in the fairy region of romance.” —Charles Maurice de Talleyrand 4. Write a poem for someone you love. 5. Order a heart-shaped pizza. 6. Read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. 7. Watch Pretty Woman. 8. LISTEN TO “UNCHAINED MELODY” BY THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS. 9. Make a mixtape. 10. “Love is a net that catches hearts like fish.” —Muhammad Ali 11. Have a Dateline date night. 12. Send someone a Singing Valentine. 13. Read Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts by SuzannPileggi Pawelski and James O. Pawelski. 14. WATCH THE BBC MINISERIES PRIDE AND PREJUDICE STARRING COLIN FIRTH. 15. Request your loved one's favorite song on the radio. 16. Take a couples cooking class. 17. GO FOR A HIKE OR BIKE RIDE WITH YOUR PARTNER. 18. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 19. Listen to “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure. 20. READ MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA BY ARTHUR GOLDEN. 21. Share a dessert. 22. Watch The Big Sick. 23. Listen to “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney. 24. “WHAT IS DESIRE BUT A WILDNESS OF THE SOUL?” —LOUISE ERDRICH 25. Buy tickets to watch your favorite pro-sports team play. 26. Have dinner by candlelight. 27. Clip out the Love is…comic strip to post on the fridge. 28. Read Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection by Sharon Salzberg. 29. Try couples yoga. 30. WATCH MOULIN ROUGE! 31. Listen to “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. 33. “For ’twas not into my ear you whispered but into my heart. ’Twas not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” —Judy Garland
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February 2018 Live Happy Issue

Launch 2018 with Love and Longevity in Our Latest Issue

Award-Winning Actress Allison Janney You know and love her from movies and television shows such as The West Wing and Mom, and her recent portrayal of LaVona Golden, the gritty mother of Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding in the movie I, Tonya, is already generating awards-season buzz. In this issue of Live Happy, get to know actress Allison Janney off-camera as she shares intimate details of her real life, such as what brings her the most joy (walking her three rescue dogs) and how she stays calm in the midst of Hollywood chaos (practicing meditation and taking time out for herself now and then). The Latest Anti-Aging Breakthrough Inspired by Allison’s energy and elegance to find that elusive Fountain of Youth? Start by looking inside yourself, Live Happy details in our February issue, on newsstands now. Groundbreaking new research shows that our thoughts and behavior play a bigger role in aging than we previously realized—and that gives us more say in how we age. “The findings in our article ‘Be Happy and Live Longer’ are life-changing,” says Deborah K. Heisz, Live Happy’s CEO, co-founder and editorial director. “Happiness—much of which is under your control—is one of the greatest predictors of longevity. Simple daily lifestyle choices and habits, such as maintaining positive relationships or getting better sleep, can not only improve your mental health but also change how your body responds to aging.” Also in the February issue: Dating Mindfully—In the seemingly cynical age of swipe right, swipe left, you can still find an authentic path to love. 33 Ideas for Romance—Need a relationship boost? Try out one of these movies, songs or action tips to sprinkle more love into your life. Making Love Last — Married positive psychology experts Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James O. Pawelski, Ph.D., share the science to making love last in their new book, Happy Together. “Happily ever after doesn’t just happen,” Suzann Pileggi Pawelski says. “Healthy habits are what build happiness over the long haul.” Building on Wins: Momentum can help you reach your goals this year; we’ll show you how to harness it. Ask Stacy Column – In this issue’s Ask Stacy advice column, licensed psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser, who also serves as the magazine’s Editor at Large, answers questions on how to be happy for others’ success and how married couples can better coordinate and navigate shared financial challenges. Send your happiness advice questions to askstacy@livehappy.com. Live Happy is available on newsstands at major retailers throughout the U.S., including Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods and Hudson News. It can also be found at Presse Commerce newsstands in Canada, among others. Live Happy’s award-winning digital edition is available to purchase from the App Store and on Google Play. Current subscribers receive complimentary access on their tablet devices and smartphones. Separate digital subscriptions are available for $9.99 at livehappy.com.
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Child with gears coming out of her head.

Your Brain Is a Mess—and That’s a Good Thing!

As scientific director of the Imagination Institute and a researcher in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Scott Barry Kaufman is known for his work on intelligence and creativity. In his new book, Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, Scott and co-author Carolyn Gregoire explore the habits and techniques that can help us tap into our creative sides. Live Happy contributor Suzann Pileggi Pawelski recently sat down with Scott to learn more. Live Happy: In Wired to Create, you talk about creative people having “messy minds.” What does that mean? Scott Barry Kaufman: When you look at the lives of lots of creative people and look at their thought patterns, you see that they are constantly switching back and forth between these different modes of thought that seem incompatible with each other. It creates kind of a paradox. For example, they seem very sensitive but also very tough and are able to overcome the obstacles to achieve their goals. Creativity involves periods of downtime and reflection as well as periods of openness and deliberation and trying to make something practical and tenable. So having messy minds contributes to the messy creative process. LH: Can you briefly explain some additional paradoxes you mention in your book, starting with mindfulness vs. daydreaming? Scott: Creative people will often be very mindful of their surroundings and attentive and focused, and they will also be open to long periods of daydreaming and mind wandering. LH: What about solitude vs. collaboration? Scott: Creative processes benefit from both solitude and collaboration. With solitude it is particularly important to get a lot of ideas down on paper and for there to be no judgment....Collaboration is an important stage of being able to present your ideas to get feedback and additional inspiration from the audience. LH: Finally, what about seriousness vs. play? Scott: Creative people are serious about their work and their goals, but the process they use to reach those goals is trial-and-error. When they talk about their passions, creative people are very intense, but they tend to be very playful with their ideas and present various ways of looking at a situation. LH: Are you saying that contradiction is a hallmark of creative minds? Scott: Yes. You find that creative minds are messy in the sense that they are flexible in switching between different ways of thinking. It’s important to their creative process to have that flexibility because creativity itself is a messy process. I think we really need to be open to the messiness of the process without trying to find the one secret to creativity. LH: What else do we need to learn about messy minds? Scott: I think society in general should appreciate messy minds more. We value efficiency so much (like in our schools with standardized tests), but I don’t think this emphasis on efficiency is producing optimal creativity and innovation. A key point I want to make is that messy minds are characterized by their variability and trial and error, not by their efficiency.
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