A Few Weeks ago I had the pleasure of learning about Theresa Bodnar, the author of Get Upp: Understanding Positive Psychology. Not only is Theresa an author, but she is a Army Officer, motivational speaker and has spoken at the TED talks. If you are looking for the next book on your reading list , or a good book for an upcoming cross country flight please consider Get Upp.
- Your book Get Upp is effectively your notes from your Positive Psychology course. Where did you come up with this original idea of putting your notes in poetry form? That’s what’s funny about the creation of this book, it wasn’t something I set out to do intentionally. It just happened. I’ve always kept a journal to process my thoughts. Before Get UPP!, I had never written poetry. I suppose I felt so connected to the material I was learning in positive psychology that it ignited in me a creative spark for poetic verse. It was the most amazing feeling, to actually be creative. I had never thought of myself as a creative or an artist, but when I wrote poetry I became a different person. Throughout the course, I wrote the poems in a notation app on my phone. Before I knew it, I had a volume. I turned in my “draft” book of poetry as my final project. Then, what I thought was divine intervention at the time, but now know was my phone listening to me, I saw an add for Balboa Press on my Facebook account. Basically, I said “why not?” and submitted my manuscript for review and it got accepted. I was elated, and I love that people are enjoying Get UPP! I think that describing the concepts through poetry makes them easily accessible to readers, and it’s a lot more fun reading than an academic book. I’ve been approached by many independent publishers to re-publish the book so we can lower the price, but at an additional personal cost. If any of you readers love the book and have a connection with a traditional publisher, I’d be truly grateful for the referral!
- Is there one short story on how the lessons from positive psychology made your life better during a recent struggle? I use positive psychology tools on a regular basis and have actually integrated several of them into a new tool I call the Challenge-Future Gratitude Reframe (CFGR) process. I write about CFGR in my second book, a book I co-authored with Gratitude Expert Russ Terry and some other amazing authors, called Gratitude Mission 2. I’ve also done a TED-x Talk on CFGR called The Gift of Gratitude in Foresight that you can watch on YouTube. CFGR is a 5 step process I employ when I’m feeling stuck. Specifically in the book and TedX talk, I talk about my fear of failure as I get placed in positions of increased responsibility and visibility, which is something I think a lot of leaders feel but don’t really talk about. My thoughts usually go negative first, and in order to get unstuck, I have to accept my initial thoughts, “take them to court”, reframe them, visualize future benefits/feel future gratitudes, and then create an action plan and take the first step. This process has helped me get unstuck and mobilized many times and is something I hope you find valuable and can use in your own life. You can watch my TedX talk here
- How is Positive Psychology different then simply the pursuit of happiness? Positive psychology is so much more than the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is just a feeling. Positive psychology gives us research-based tools proven to help us THRIVE- to BE our best selves mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and socially. When we’re thriving, we feel good, happy, and connected.
- I’m not a Army Soldier, I don’t have any life-threatening challenges, and I I don’t even know anyone in the military. I’m just an average dad who lives and works in the suburbs, how does positive psychology benefit me? Positive psychology is something all people can use to improve their well-being and life satisfaction. “North of neutral” is a common term used in positive psychology to describe the intended outcome. If you’ve ever felt like you are just “going through the motions” in life and are stuck in “neutral”, positive psychology gives you the tools to get unstuck, move forward, and elevate. It helps you find purpose and joy in everyday activities. As a dad, the example you set for your children shows them what is possible in life. Why not learn how to live your best life and show your kids that they have the ability to create the life of their dreams and deal with adversity by choosing positive thoughts and making intentional life choices?
- Is Positive Psychology something that the Army teaches? And if not, what would be the value of teaching some of these principles to Soldiers? Yes, the Army formally teaches positive psychology as part of its Ready and Resilient Campaign. The program was developed initially back in 2011 with the aim of preventing PTSD, promoting psychological resilience, and improving Soldier performance. It is a critical component of Army culture taught cyclically at the unit level and at all phases of leader development training. To learn more about the Army’s program at http:/readyandresilient.army.mil.
Any additional words? Learning and applying positive psychology tools in my life has really been a game-changer. I hope this interview motivates you to check Get UPP! out and try some of the tools for yourself. We have one life to live, why not make it our best?
I was first introduced to the field of positive psychology in the Army. The Army has its own Resilience Training program which was designed in cooperation with UPenn, known for its world famous Master in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program. I became fascinated with the subject and decided I wanted to learn about it in greater depth. At the time, another Masters program wasn’t feasible, but I was fortunate enough to find the Flourishing Center’s Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) program (www.theflourishingcenter.com). And then…my life changed.
While studying CAPP, I became truly inspired about the concepts I was learning about. I learned about how/why the brain is wired towards the default negative, what I could do to consciously change that default, cultivate positivity, and get started on a pathway towards flourishing. These ideas were revolutionary to me. I found myself thinking about them constantly and then I just started writing.
I’ve always been sort of a writer- I’ve done a lot of journalling and quotational monologues, more to help with internal processing of my feelings and new information. But for some reason, CAPP inspired me to start writing POETRY…and I just couldn’t stop! In the coffee shop, on the airplane, in the middle of the night, I would write whenever inspiration hit me. My book: Get UPP! Understanding Positive Psychology is a fun way to explore positive psychology concepts and maybe get a little motivated yourself.
Theresa Can be contacted at: