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Show 1087: Change Your Perspective from Half-Empty to Half-Full

Listen to our interview with Dr. Samantha Boardman to learn how positive psychology can help you change your perspective and find your strengths.
Samantha Boardman, MD, Positive Prescription
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Change Your Perspective from Half-Empty to Half-Full

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If you’ve ever found yourself ruminating over mistakes you made during the day and wishing for a do-over, you might want to change your perspective. In traditional psychiatry, you might focus on problems in your relationship and learn how to fight fair. Positive psychology, a science supporting health and wellness, would teach you how to appreciate and celebrate your partner.

Positive Psychology:

Dr. Samantha Boardman got interested in positive psychology herself when a patient fired her. The woman said that reviewing all her problems in each session made her feel worse, and she wasn’t coming back. Considering this, Dr. Boardman realized her (ex-) patient was right. Consequently, she went back to school for a master’s degree in positive psychology, which helps people focus on their strengths and plan how to overcome obstacles.

She learned from Dr. Martin Seligman, a leader in positive psychology who examined learned optimism in scientific studies. How can we re-think challenges? Dr. Boardman summarizes Seligman’s mnemonic PERMA: Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationship, Meaning beyond yourself and Accomplishment.

Forming New Habits of Thinking Through New Ways of Acting:

Dr. Boardman describes how to use cognitive reappraisal to channel anxiety into energy. You will also hear how to break the habit of negative self-talk.

Do something different; especially, do something for someone else. When you connect with others, even in small ways, you feel better.

If you are faced with an obstacle, you need a realistic assessment of the challenge. Preparing a grounded plan to meet it is crucial for changing your perspective from finding the glass half-empty to seeing it as half-full.

This Week’s Guest:

Samantha Boardman, MD, is a Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry and Assistant Attending Psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College. She received her B.A. from Harvard University, an M.A. in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a medical degree from Cornell University Medical College, where she was awarded the Oskar Diethelm Prize for Excellence in Psychiatry. Dr. Boardman has published papers in journals including Translational Neuroscience, The American Journal of Psychiatry and The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Her blog, https://www.PositivePrescription.com, shares insights from the psychiatry and psychology community with readers, and explores the way psychology, culture and science intersect. Dr. Boardman lives and works in New York City. Other links:

on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/positiveprescription 

on Twitter @sambmd

and on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/positive_prescription/

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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comments (11 total)
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For me, every negative ( and positive ) feeling is a direct result of thought. It’s our thinking, not our circumstances that determines how we feel. I strongly disagree when she states, happiness doesn’t come from changing what you think, but what you do with and for others. Again, for me, only thought brings meaning to a circumstance. As Dr. Albert Ellis always said…………..Change your thought and you can change your feeling

It was nice to listen to a psychiatrist whose “method” is not simply to match reported symptoms (many of which are never confirmed) with drugs: a drug for every symptom. Perhaps that’s because she did her masters level work as a psychologist(?)So often it is a “skills not pills” approach that works best.

While there are good tips here.. it’s difficult in today’s world to remain cheerful when there is so much negativity that surrounds us all. Much of it is caused by the medical profession who keeps us all on edge with their constant changing nonsense…

I work with students in the public school system, and I always insist on a smile, because I tell them if they smile, it makes the hard times easier to deal with, and the good times even better. A couple of times they have called me on not smiling. So, I do believe you can trick yourself into being in a good mood

In the show Dr. Boardman man reference to a FREE strengths based assessment that could accessed on line. I tried to find it on her positive prescription website and could not (maybe I was looking in the wrong place). I would like to know how to access this psychological measurement instrument.


I was hoping there’d be a discussion on strategies to mitigate ruminating on past regrets.

Great talk. I had read Seilgman’s “Learned Optimism ” years ago. Dr. Boardman’s interview was very
enlightening, understandable, concise & Helpful. Thank you

The website came up for me so I guess it has been renewed. Try again.

I’ve always been a glass half full person, thanks to my dad who was a jolly, loving man. Mom was totally opposite.

Went to a psychologist one time when some problems with then boyfriend arose. She said often when one person is kind of a grouch, the partner tries to balance things by being more cheery. That type of balance is rare in a relationship (or mine at any rate) which maybe why I’m alone at age 80.

At least there are pets to take up the slack and allow us to be as happy as we want to be!

Dr. Boardman was great. For Gerry who asked about rumination. Know that it is quite normal; it’s called negativity bias or monkey mind. Even monkeys have it. When you catch yourself doing it, congratulate yourself for catching it. That’s called mindfulness.

A few strategies for getting your brain out of that habit.

1. After thanking your mind for trying to keep you safe, think of all the things you have to be grateful for until you fall asleep or need to focus on something else. Repeat every time you notice rumination.

2. Emotional Freedom Technique EFT also called meridian tapping is something you can do on your own. There are tutorials online. It worked great for my ruminating and it works great for lots of other things too.

3. The Work of Byron Katie. Byron Katie has thousands of videos online of her doing “the work” with people. Just watching them helps, but it is also an easy thing to do on yourself. This was my favorite self help technique until I heard about EFT.

There is probably “somebody for everybody” if you look hard enough. On the other hand, you might want to watch the movie “Dodgeball” before you put out huge amounts of effort.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^