There is a short list on which I keep the names of people whose work I admire in any given field.  I find keeping such a list stops me from wondering in the ‘woods’ of an Internet search on any given topic.  When it comes to those I trust in the field of applied positive psychology, Robert Biswas-Diener, is not only on that list, but on the top!  I have never met him, but can tell from his thoughtful and useful newsletters that if I still owned hotels, he would be the consult I would hire.  The following review of the new book, Thrive, was written by Robert Biswas-Diener.  Since I loved The Blue Zones, I can’t wait to pick up a copy of Thrive.

People familiar with positive psychology are often unfamiliar with Dan Buettner. This is because Dan is an explorer, journalist, world-record holder, and expert on a topic often overlooked by positive psychologists: health. In his first book– The Blue Zones– Dan identified geographic anomalies: places where a disproportionate percentage of the population lived to be 100 or more. He investigated the health and social habits of people in Okinawa and other places. His reasoning is as follows: it makes sense to look at the habits of people who are successful. In his newest effort, Thrive, Dan extends this strategy to happiness.

Thrive is another topocentric book; this time Buettner shifts his attention from the healthiest places on the planet to the happiest. One of the things I love best about Dan’s take on happiness is that he gets out into the field. Scientific findings are great– and Buettner certainly makes the most of his relationship to Gallup and access to Gallup survey data– but it is often just as fruitful to get out of the laboratory and talk to people on the street who illustrate academic points on a more day to day level. It is because of this journalistic impulse that Thrive doesn’t read like “just another happiness book” but appears to offer something new…. newer data, new stories, and new ideas.

On a final note I should also mention that I love Dan’s take on the science of happiness. Rather than present his own model of happiness– as if we need another one of those!– Dan interviews Ed Diener, Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ruut Veenhoven and other experts, reprinting their quotes in full and letting small points of difference hang in the air between them. Ultimately, I suspect Dan agrees with Sonja on the meaning of happiness when she says “Most of us don’t need a definition of happiness because instinctively we know whether we are happy or not.” Thrive is like this: supported on a foundation of science but, ultimately, a book about people.

Robert’s company publishes various workbooks in the field of positive psychology.  Check him and them out:  Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener, Positive Psychology Services, LLC,

Thriving, Thanksgiving, and The Thanks in giving, Andrea

Feel the spirit of the season
About the author

Andrea Goeglein is part organizational psychologist, part entrepreneur, and all about success—your success. She understands both the pressures you face and the dreams that inspire you. Andrea merges her experience as a business owner with her training in Positive Psychology to provide effective, efficient and challenging personal development products and services. She combines an emphasis on objective assessment with an approach that is always powered by your spirit and guided by your goals. Her professional development offerings are based in theory and backed by direct business knowledge.

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