30 Jan 2012

Positive Psychology

Martin Seligman, founder of the Center for Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, found that the following circumstances attribute to happiness:

1. to live in a prosperous, democratic country
2. to have an extensive social network
3. to be married
4. to be religious
5. to avoid negative emotions

However, the circumstances of earning more money, living in a sunny country, staying healthy and following the best possible education, proved not to have any effect on our level of happiness on the long term, even though most of us believe so...

28 Jan 2012


There was a conference on creativity (in English) at Fundação Champalimaud (in the photo) last Monday.
I was amazed to see there was a crowd of young people filling the place.
Although I got there ten minutes before the time I couldn't get in. But I was pleased to see that there was such an interest.
If you want to be informed about the cultural activities of the Fundação go to the site (www.fchampalimaud.org) and subscribe the newsletter. On top of it, the place is amazing and beautifully located on the mouth of the river. I hear they're doing a lot of research on cancer and already providing treatments.


I'm joining Esther and Louise in the love for the sea.
This is a photo I took on a beach in the Azores. Thus the basaltic sand.


Les amants (Jetée), 2009

For other works of this amazing "creatice" see www.noemiegoudal.com

(via becauseimaddicted.blogspot.com)

25 Jan 2012


Belgian writer and journalist Leo Bormans made an international project about happiness.
In his book, 'The World Book of Happiness', 100 professional researchers in Positive Psychology share their evidence-based knowledge.

European Council President Herman van Rompuy has recently sent this book to all world leaders!

Read more about this inspiring book at:

20 Jan 2012


In psychology, we sometimes use tools like relaxation exercises, breathing exercises etc. When I work with relaxation techniques, I often use someone's 'favorite scene of nature'. Then we can imaginary explore that place with all our senses...
My favorite scene of nature is the beach! What is yours?

17 Jan 2012

Does the size of our social network correlate with brain growth?

It seems so, although more research still has to be done using human subjects.

A research group from the University of Oxford used macaques to study this. They placed them in groups of different sizes during one year.
After this period, parts of the brains (important for recognition of faces, as well as facial and emotional expressions) had increased in the monkeys that had been living in bigger groups. These functions seem to be needed harder to be able to be successful in a bigger social context.

Read more at:


15 Jan 2012


Do read a most interesting article in Vanity Fair's January issue. The author Kurt Andersen elaborates about the way the appearance world seems to have not changed since the nineties. Except in science and technology of course we've not seen great changes. You wouldn't distinguish a photo from the nineties from a contemporary one if it were not for a mobile someone carries.
Amazing reading. One wonders...


12 Jan 2012


Riding a bycicle seems to be getting into the habits of the Lisboetas and those who live in Linha. At last!
It isn'it yet Amsterdam or Copenhagen or Bologna but we trust those in the townhall can see a little further than their noses. Get someone to go to one of those cities and just copy! Above all don't try to be too smart! It can be done with will and good sense.
In the meantime I leave here a photo I took in Boston a few years ago: the lonely bycicle in the snow.

10 Jan 2012

The effect of listening to our MP3 in public transport

A little bit more in addition to one of the last posts about public transport: it seems like we can bear the vicinity of strangers more easily when listening to happy music through headphones. Positive music makes the borders of our personal space smaller!
Read more about this research, done by psychologists from the University of London, at:


8 Jan 2012


For anyone who writes on the net, I would advise reading this post by Seth Godin


5 Jan 2012

City and Street Views

I love the pictures of German artist Michael Wolf!

His new pics of subway-travellers in Tokyo make me think....
How do we prefer to move around? Which options do we have? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option? Anyone of us makes different choices.
Walking? Bicycle? Car? Subway? ....?

2 Jan 2012

Dog Phobia: a cognitive behavioral perspective

Most specific phobias (like dog phobia) arise in childhood. Modeling (seeing frightened parents for example) could be one of the causes, as well as conditioning experiences (for example, seeing a person being bitten by a dog) and receiving negative information (stories of friends/family, films, books).

When fear is interfering with daily life it's good to find help. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-known and efficient therapy to tackle fear and anxiety. It consists of 2 parts: cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. This is because in CBT, cognitions as well as behavior are thought to play a crucial role in the way we feel (for example: scared).

Our behavior can change our thoughts and feelings. Besides that, our thoughts can change our feelings and behavior.

People who are afraid of something, tend to avoid the situation or object they fear. In the short term, avoidance helps because you will feel less afraid. But in the long term, this behavior creates persistence or even an increase of the anxiety. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing behavior to overcome fear. Step by step, under professional guidance, you will start exposing yourself to the things you fear. This allows you slowly adapt to situations that you find difficult.

Cognitive therapy is all about the way of thinking. Your thoughts will be examined during treatment. You will learn to think differently about your fear. New, helping thoughts will be created that will help you overcome your fears. For example, people with anxiety disorders often think that the risk of danger is very great. The question is whether this is true? Are these thoughts realistic? What would be a more helpful, realistic thought?

1 Jan 2012

Dog phobia

Our reader Anna asked for an elaboration on dog phobias. From a psychoanaltycal point of view dog phobia as other phobias is a way of expressing anxiety. The person may think along these lines (sub-consciously): if I manage to avoid dogs I won't be so anxious.
And you know what? It sometimes works.
Mind you, the phobia can be manageable up to a certain point. When it upsets your life (eg not visiting a friend because of his dog) it's time to do something about it. Cognitive therapy is quite used in these cases. I'll ask our new collaborator and cognitive therapist Esther Schuller to write about it.
Welcome Esther!


It's interesting how our minds work and how we like to atribute meanings to calendar and dates. What happened between yesterday and today? Nothing or maybe a lot, it depends on the individual.
Although the international and national situations are worrying, let's face 2012 as the French philosopher Giles Deleuze wrote: "to be ethical is to live up to the circumstances".
Exits 1, enters 2: Happy New Year


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