Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Lite n Easy

Is a program for healthy eating in Australia where the food is pre-packaged and delivered weekly - to eat over the entire week.

I'm on it now - I might not be getting Liter, but I think I'm getting Easier......

Jokes aside, I am loving it! I was not eating properly before and the program is nutritionally balanced. I am feeling FANTASTIC!

Exercising every day as well. Great things are happening!

I have taken steps to feel, function, and, as a consequence look good - as I shine!

Martin Seligman interviewed in Australia

Martin Seligman joins The 7.30 Report - Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Broadcast: 07/12/2009

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

Dr Martin Seligman is one of the world's most high profile psychologists. His work on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression and the power of optimism has featured in many of his books, and led to ground-breaking research work in classrooms around the world. Dr Seligman is in Australia at the moment, where he was attending the Science of the Mind forum with the Dalai Lama and another conference on the mind and it’s potential. He spoke with Kerry O’Brien in Sydney.

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Martin Seligman is one of the world's most high profile psychologists. His work on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression and the power of optimism is featured in many books and led more recently to ground breaking programs, attacking depression and anxiety, in classrooms around the globe.

But his most thorough school experiment has been at Geelong Grammar where for six months he worked and lived with the teaching staff, preparing them for a new style of teaching. That experiment is still under review, but in the meantime the US Army - concerned about an increasingly high rate of suicides, depression and post combat trauma within its own ranks - has been impressed enough with the results at Geelong Grammar so far that it has commissioned Dr Seligman to apply the same principles to its 1.1 million soldiers.

Martin Seligman, director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, is in Australia at the moment and I interviewed him in Sydney where he was attending a major global conference with the Dalai Lama on the mind and its potential.

Martin Seligman, what are the fundamentals of the program that you've been implementing at Geelong Grammar?

DR MARTIN SELIGMAN, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Positive psychology and positive education have four basic pillars - one is the teaching of more positive emotion, the second is the tuition toward more meaning and purpose in life, the third is what we know about better human relationships, and the fourth is very allied to traditional schools, which is accomplishment, achievement and mastery.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And this is woven through the whole kind of culture of the teaching.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Yes, well the idea behind it, if you think about what you most want for your children, what Australian parents say is happiness, fulfilment, civility, balance.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Independence from our purse.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: When I asked them, "well, what do schools teach your children?" They say discipline, conformity, literacy - there's no overlap between the two (happiness, fulfilment, civility, balance). So the idea of positive education is to take the things that we have been finding out about building positive emotion and life satisfaction and merging that with the traditional education towards successful work place.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So what have been the results so far?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Well there are 21 replications across the world in which we taught teachers the skills of positive psychology, and then we measure how the students do on anxiety, depression and life satisfaction. So the results are that teaching teachers in large groups these principles - you first learn them as a teacher in your own life and then you learn to apply them to your students - lowers the probability of anxiety, depression, conduct problems, raises satisfaction as kids go through it. Geelong Grammar is a special case that is we got the whole school.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And you're convinced that this will represent a genuine revolution in education? That this is actually going to spread and be effective?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: No, I'm an eternal sceptic and pessimist so I'm not convinced of anything. I'll tell you what I believe as opposed to being convinced; I think there's quite good evidence that when children learn the skills of positive psychology, in tandem with learning the usual workplace skills, that they, as they go through puberty they have less depression, less anxiety, and they do better in school.

And I think as a parent that's what we want. So the hope is, and there's reason to think it's catching on, that more and more schools and government will say, hey, wait a minute, let's train our teachers not only in how to teach mathematics but how to teach good relationships.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Now this is pretty much the same program, the fundamentals of the same program that you're applying with the US military, starting with, I think, 150 crusty sergeants.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: First I started with a group of 30 drill sergeants, then 60, and then when I just left there was 150 drill sergeants - who are nothing like your image of drill sergeants. They are not these grizzled, mean, obsessive compulsive people, rather they're, for the most part, 40-year-old black and Hispanic kids - they were kids - who were war heroes; who worked their way up through three deployments and their highest characteristic is capacity to love and be loved.

So we've been basically changing the curriculum, not too much from Geelong Grammar. We thought we'd have to do it about combat and they said no, you know, when our guys fall apart, they've got cell phones and right before battle they call their wife in St Louis and have a fight about the kids. And that's so a lot of our examples...

KERRY O'BRIEN: So modern warfare is a dramatically different...

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Modern warfare is you're arguing with your spouse about the dishwasher right before. So yeah, it's really quite astonishing it never happened before. And a lot of the demoralisation is about stuff that's happening with the family on the home front in addition...

KERRY O'BRIEN: So your life is no longer in the capsule of at home or at war or on leave. It's all with you wherever you are.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Right so it's not like being on a whaling ship anymore in which you don't see your spouse for three years. So as a result of that, to my surprise, as I carefully measure teachers' reaction to this course, they like this course. The Geelong Grammar teachers gave it about a 4.7 out of five. The drill sergeants give it a five out of five.

Just before I came here Kerry, I was walking down to do instructions and this drill sergeant came to me and said, you know, Dr Seligman, I really have to thank you. If I had had this training three years ago I wouldn't be divorced now. From the subjective reaction of this, we've done about 200 drill sergeants now, they believe they can teach it, they like the material and they think it's just what their soldiers need for resilience.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But this could be a five year exercise before a very clear picture emerges?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Well they've got a different time scale. So what they're doing is they're, we're, now simulcasting it to different forts. So there'll be training probably at the University of Pennsylvania once a month of 150 with my faculty and then this will be simulcasting to several forts.

And at the same time, if we do 150 drill sergeants we identify the 15 best ones and then we bring them back and make them master trainers. So my hope is, just as with Geelong Grammar, that we just, get rid of the University of Pennsylvania very soon - they'll have this within a couple of years.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You've been at the forefront of psychology for decades now; an outrageously general question I know, but in your assessment are people happier today than they were 30 years ago, or to put it differently, is there more or less happiness?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: There's more depression now than there was 30 years ago. So that's really quite a negative, particularly among young people. There are 52 nations in which there's been a measure of happiness at time one and then time two. Forty-six of them went up slightly in happiness, nothing like the way, say, the economics have gone up. Five have gone down, and one nation has stayed flat. That nation is Australia.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Any rationales developed as to why?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: No, but I think it's a paradox. Last time I looked at your economic statistics, Australia had had something like 14 or 15 years of unbroken growth.

KERRY O'BRIEN: It's about 17 now.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: If one has a belief that happiness is a function of economic growth, people in Australia ought to be out there leading the world, but they're not. That tells us that notions of happiness and depression are something much more than material growth.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And having said all that, and having written a book on learned optimism, you're actually a pessimist yourself.


KERRY O'BRIEN: After all these years...

MARTIN SELIGMAN: Actually I'm better than I was the last time you interviewed me.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well, so after all these years how well have you been able to train yourself to see the glass half full rather than half empty?

MARTIN SELIGMAN: I measure these things in myself and I actually take my own medicine. So the way I work on exercises, like creating more meaning in life or strengths, is I first do it on myself and if it works then I give it to my wife and seven children. And if it works with them, then I start to do controlled experiments on it.

So I actually use these techniques on myself and, you know, I know you're not my age yet, but I think there's really hope even for people in their 60s, that I am, to my surprise, a noticeably happier person than I was and it's by using techniques that have been developed psychologically.

KERRY O'BRIEN: I think that's a very good note to end the interview on.

Martin Seligman, thanks very much for talking with us.

MARTIN SELIGMAN: You're welcome Kerry. Good to see you again.