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Equation2Thrive #What’s Your Equation?

Equation2Thrive #What’s Your Equation?

The 2018 World Positive Education Accelerator combined the science of positive education & David Cooperrider‘s appreciative inquiry methods with a goal of making a quantum leap in the ways positive education impacts academics and well-being around the world.

Positive Education uses individual strengths and personal motivation to promote learning. 

There’s a ton of research on what it takes to live a happy and meaningful life. There was a strong agreement from all the experts in attendance including Martin Seligman,  Lea Waters and Angela Duckworth that we can do more to promote wellness.

The AI model is a method of design that looks like this:

Through this process, 1200 stakeholders including academics, educators, students, and parents participated in a highly creative process dreaming of a new future.

What positive psychology experts agree on is that when we take away all mental illness and all mental distress we still don’t have mental wellness.

We are not flourishing or thriving.

The Equation2thrive movement was one of many actions born from this process.

Our goal was bringing awareness to every individual’s personal ability to recognize and actualize their individual equation to thrive.

My personal belief is in an overarching equation that can be used every single day by every single person. It looks something like this:

The social media movement encourages individuals to reflect on their equation. It can be different every day. Sometimes you need relaxation + refection while at other times you need conversation + activity. The great thing is that there is no wrong answer.

In summary, I will leave you with the statement our team designed as well as a simple call to action.

Equation2thrive is a global movement leveraging the multiplier of positive education, spotlighting an individual’s unique potential to live a connected and meaningful life. From influencers to classrooms, carpool conversations and boardrooms all the way to the United Nations, we want everyone to know your equation matters We leave you with a simple question #what’s your equation

Please reflect, make a short video like the one below and post it on your social feeds #equation2thrive #whatsyourequation

Can Binge-Watching Make You Happier?

Can Binge-Watching Make You Happier?

According to Psychology Today, we are wired to binge-watch television. Humans are social beings and we connect emotionally with the stories and the plights of others on the screen. There’s even a new field called neurocinematics which is the study of how television and film interact with the brain. Neurocinematics research is finding that people binge to take a break from their regular lives by zoning out and being engrossed in a world that isn’t their own and that watching helps to a avoid fatigue in hectic, digitally-driven lives.

Ryan Niemiec is the founder of VIA Character Strengths, a positive psychology framework using the work first described by Martin Seligman and Chris Peterson that identifies 24 universal strengths or virtues that impact well-being. Niemiec published a book positive psychology at the movies where he provides a deeply science-backed explanation of how the language of films allow us to experience the strengths and virtues that are universal across the population so we can have a meaningful experience while thinking about the virtues that we value most. Ultimately this can lift us or put us in an upward spiral towards more positive emotion. He calls this “cinematic elevation- the experience of positive emotion when watching a character displaying a character strength coupled with an intention to act for the good”.

In your life as a movie-goer or Netflix binger, this means there are actual physical and emotional benefits to screen time. In order to help you get the most out of your couch potato time, I encourage you to take the VIA survey and start watching through the lens of your strengths. My long-time favourite movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, aligns well with some of my top strengths including ZEST, CURIOSITY & CREATIVITY.  Which movies or movie characters do you love and how do they relate to your strengths? Here’s a list of the strengths, grouped by category, along with some of the top movie suggestions for each one. 

Category- Wisdom and Knowlege

The category wisdom and knowledge includes the strengths of perspective, love of learning, open-mindedness, curiosity, and creativity. Many consider this virtue category to be the core, the one that makes other virtues and strengths possible. Films that engender the wisdom and knowledge virtues often have the lead character directly or indirectly sharing insight and lifting others to higher levels of wisdom and knowledge, Archetypical characters that would fall into this category are Yoda, Gandolf, and Dumbledore.

Frida (2002)

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)

Maniac (2001)

Awakenings (1990)

Meet the Robinsons (2007) G

Big Hero 6 (2014) G


Amelie (2001)

The Secret Garden (1993)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) G

10 Items or Less (2006)

Sideways (2004)

Jurassic Park (1994)

The Machinist (2004)

Mongolian Ping Pong (2005)

James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Up (2009)


My Dinner with Andre (1981)

Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

Samsara (2011)

Lucy (2014)

Life as a House (2001)

Inception (2010)


The Sixth Sense (1999)

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Big Fish (2003)

Gone Girl (2014)

Inside Out (2015)

Love of Learning

Akeelah and the Bee (2006)

Billy Elliott (2000)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

The Karate Kid (1984)

Finding Forrester (2001)


Category- Courage

The category of courage includes virtues that are emotional strengths. This includes bravery, persistence, integrity, and vitality. There have been attempts by psychologists to develop scales to measure courage and others believe courage to be a way to define meaning in an otherwise meaningless world. Scientifically very little is known about genetics and neuroscience of courage. There is also a distinction, sometimes made, between personal courage and general courage. General courage involves actions that impact everyone and personal courage is individualized.

Apollo 13 (1995)

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

Moana (2016) G

The Kite Runner (2007)

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Rudy (1993)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

WALL-E (2008) G


The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Finding Nemo (2003) G

Babe (1995) G

Homeward Bound (1993)

Fame (1980)

127 Hours (2010)


Forrest Gump (1994)

Shark Tale (2004) G

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) G

Pinnochio (1940)

Shattered Glass (2003)

Memento (2000)

Before I Go to Sleep (2014)


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Mary Poppins (1964) G

Peter Pan (2003) G

Legally Blonde (2001)

Singing in the Rain (1952)

Big Fish (2003)

Category- Humanity

Virtues that fall under humanity includes love, kindness, and social intelligence. The humanity strengths are all involved in relationship building and reaching out to befriend others. Niemiec noted a trend in today’s world toward movies that emphasize the character strengths and virtues under the heading of humanity.

Ghost (1990)

The Notebook (2004)

On Golden Pond (1981)

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

The Princess Bride (1987)

Trainwreck (2015)

Friends With Benefits (2011)


As Good as it Gets (1997)

Schindler’s List (1993)

The Blind Side (2009)

Wonder (2012)

Victoria and Abdul (2017)


Category- Justice

The next category is the virtue of justice which contains citizenship, leadership, and fairness. This domain is the about interaction between an individual and the society around them. Of the six domains of virtues, justice and humanity, according to Peterson and Seligman, are the most universal. In cinema Justice films are often produced by indie film companies and seen at international film festivals- they aren’t the big box office winners and yet there are some fabulous gems in this category.


The Bad News Bears (1976)

Cool Runnings (1993)

A League of Their Own (1992)

Radio (2003)

Remember the Titans (2003)

Coach Carter (2005)

Pitch Perfect (2012)


Dead Man Walking (1995)

Ghandi (1982)

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Philidelphia (1993)


Evita (1997)

The Lion King (1994) G

Black Panther (2018)

Saving Private Ryan (1992)

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Milk (2009)


Category- Temperance

The temperance domain is made up of four character strengths; modesty, prudence, mercy, and self-regulation. According to Niemiec, temperance is the category least portrayed in cinema and it’s one of the hardest to identify. It’s interesting to note that our movie heroes rarely show restraint in drinking, drug use, eating, behaving aggressively and having sex.


The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Green Mile (1999)

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Man on Fire (2004)

Crash (2004)

Cinderella (2015)


Ghandi (1982)

Mary and Max (2009)

The Music Man (1962)

Brian and the Boz (2014)

Roxanne (1987)

Clueless (1995)

Prudence & Self-Regulation

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Unbroken (2014)

A Man For All Seasons (1966)

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Category- Transcendence

The final domain is the virtue of transcendence. Transcendence is described as an individual moving beyond the ordinary range of human experience and understanding. I think of transcendence as living for the greater good. The strengths that fall under this virtue include appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope, humor, and spirituality. Transcendence can elicit a number of positive emotions that are related to our happiness including joy, awe, and admiration. Films in this category may contain a spiritual message or a feeling of deeper connection with something bigger than oneself.
Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence

Frida (2002)

Pocahontas (1995) G

WALL-E (2008) G

Chariots of Fire (1981)

Race (2016)

March of the Penguins (2005) G

Into The Wild (2007)


Freaky Friday (2003)

Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)

It Could Happen to You (1994)

Trading Places (1983)

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Pay It Forward (2000)

The Blindside (2009)


Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Miracles From Heaven (2016)

Freedom Writers (2007)

Erin Brockovich (2000)

The Help (2011)


Austin Powers (1997)

Something About Mary (1998)

Anchorman (2004)

Meet the Parents (2000)

Zoolander (2001)

Ace Venture Pet Detective (1994)


Eat, Pray, Love (2010)

Wild (2014)

Samsara (2011)

Little Buddha (1993)

Amadeus (1984)

If you think of one not on this list, please send it our way and we’ll add it. Get your popcorn ready and happy binge-watching!









Letting Go of Limiting Beliefs- The Shortcut to Happiness

Letting Go of Limiting Beliefs- The Shortcut to Happiness

When you uncover a limiting belief or an unconscious bias you become more able to see past them. This means you can create more social connections which are a proven tool for increasing happiness. What are limiting beliefs and unconscious biases and what do they have to do with happiness anyways?

The Definitions

Limiting Belief 

A belief is an acceptance by the mind that something is true or real. Beliefs are the lens that you see the world through and they:

  1. tell you what you like or don’t like
  2. define for you what is possible or impossible
  3. anchor your judgments
  4. affect your relationships
  5. contract or expand your potential
  6. harness or hijack your passion
  7. lower or raise your level of happiness

Each of us lives within and operates out of a complex set of beliefs that define us and the world in which we live. Beliefs are our reality-making blueprint and limiting ones are the ones that keep us from doing, going, being or feeling something. They are not truths but when they are not questioned they can feel true.

Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias refers to bias that happens automatically, triggered by our brain’s judgments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment creating an unexamined belief about a particular category of people. We all have them and having them does not make you a hateful person; examining them allows you to remove your blinders and open your mind.

I always think of dominant and subordinate populations when I explore biases. Dominant groups of people are those who fit into the majority. An obvious example is straight white men. They are dominant to gay white men, men of colour, and women.

Subordinate  refers to a group that is a minority and who regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination. Depending on who you are with, you may be the dominant person OR the subordinate person in a relationship or conversation. This fluctuates from one relationship to another. When you are the dominant person, your job is always to listen with an open mind in order to examine your biases.


There are many ways to define happiness but one of my favourites comes from positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky who says happiness is ” the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” When you connect with those around you; friends, family members, and colleagues you both get the benefits of increased well-being. Positive social connection is a shortcut to happier living.

I’ve Uncovered It- Now What?

Discovering limiting beliefs and unconscious biases is only the first step. Once you have identified one, here are a few steps to take to help you let it go and change your pattern:

  1. Celebrate that you noticed a belief or bias- it’s the first step!
  2. Observe your pattern. You’ve noticed it, now become a student of when, where, why, and how it happens.
  3. Drop self-judgment. It won’t help you. We all have beliefs and biases. If you think you don’t, that’s one of yours!
  4. Replace your negative with something positive. In habit formation, you have to replace your old action/thought with a new supportive one.

Go out of your way to learn what you need to in order to open your mind. Children who go to a diverse pre-school are way less likely to hate people according to Sally Kohn, author of We Need to Fix Hate. If you notice your friends of choice are all just like you, perhaps it’s time to expand a bit.

Ask yourself:

  1. Are all my friends the same ethnicity as me?
  2. Are all my friends in the same line of work as me?
  3. Do my friends all send their children to the same school that mine attend?
  4. Do I have friends who are more/less wealthy than me?
  5. Do I have friends who are younger/older than me?
  6. Do I have friends from various religions?
  7. Do I have friends who vote differently than I do?

Make it a priority to expand your social circle or if you are lucky enough to already have a rich and varied group of friends spend time reflecting on how your differences enrich your relationship.

We will always have judgements about others. We are wired, for safety, to notice differences. When you discover a difference celebrate the opportunity for expanded awareness. When differences cause friction, as they frequently do, look for common ground to build from.

I can look at someone I see as nothing like me and still find a sense of shared human experience. I do not support Trump but I can see that we are both parents and business owners and spouses. I don’t believe that guns should be widely available for purchase but I understand that I want my family to be safe just like the NRA supporters do. Focusing on where we are similar helps break down and fear or anger that drives our differences.

Do not believe in anything (simply) because you have heard it ; Do not believe in traditions, because they been handed down for many generations ; Do not believe in anything, because it is spoken and rumoured by many ; Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books ; But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Buddha Jayant



The Connection Between Mindfulness & Happiness

The Connection Between Mindfulness & Happiness

Mindfulness is everywhere. Lewis Howes is doing it. Gretchen Rubin isn’t. It made Dan Harris 10% Happier and it’s part of Tim Ferriss’s recommended morning routine. It seems that people either define themselves as mindful meditators like Gabby Bernstein and Oprah, or they love to brag about their inability to sit silently.

No matter which camp you currently reside in, after reading this you’ll want to give mindfulness a second chance.

First I want to be clear about what mindfulness is and what it isn’t.

Mindfulness isn’t the same as meditation. Being mindful involves present moment awareness which can occur while you are meditating but mindfulness can also happen when your are walking, eating, listening or doing other activities that require presence. Meditation is the practice of embracing internal stillness with intentions of reaching ultimate consciousness and concentration. This involves becoming a witness of one’s mind and mastery of attention to intention. Techniques may involve use of a mantra (series of words that act as an anchor for the wandering mind), close guidance by a guru (a teacher), compassion, love, patience, and of course, mindfulness.

Mindfulness and meditation are not religion. There is meditation as part of many religious practices. But you don’t have to be spiritual or religious to meditate. I think of prayer as talking to God and meditation as listening- but that is only one way to look at it. For many, meditation and prayer are two sides of one coin.

What about the fidgety people who drink wine, see stillness as constraining and are skeptical about anything that could be seen as religion? There is still away to take advantage of the benefits (see below) of meditation if you fall into this category. Spending time in a flow state is one of them.

The Antidote to Stress

Mindful meditation is often seen as a stress management tool. Stress happens when an obstacle comes between us and something we want. This could be a red light as we hurry to a child’s dance recital or an interview that may lead to a promotion. The body responds to any type of stress by releasing a flood of chemicals. This is known as the fight/flight response. When in this state

  • heart rate increases
  • blood pressure increases
  • pancreas releases more glucagon and less insulin raising blood sugar
  • we sweat more
  • adrenals pump out more adrenaline. noradrenaline and cortisol
  • we feel a need to go to the bathroom
  • our blood platelets clot
  • our immunity weakens
  • we breath more quickly

Over time, prolonged exposure to the fight/flight response can:

  • increase in blood pressure and stress on the heart can lead to coronary heart disease
  • increase of stress hormones can really lead to anxiety insomnia or addiction
  • increase blood sugar can lead to diabetes or obesity
  • decreased circulation to the digestive tract can lead to digestive disturbances
  • decreased growth and sex hormones can cause premature aging
  • decreased immunity increases your potential for infections
  • increase in sticky platelets increases the risk of heart attack and stroke

When you are mindfully meditating your heart rate, your blood pressure, your respiration, your perspiration, your stress hormones, and your platelets stickiness all decrease and your anti-aging hormones increase.

The Benefits

Mindfulness is significantly correlated with positive affect, life satisfaction, and your ability to flourish

Mindfulness buffers depression symptoms

After 8 week of daily 1 hour mindfulness a significant increase in baseline happiness levels that lasted 4 months after the training was recorded

Patience increases

Sense of connection to others increases

Physical health improves


Types of Mindfulness & Meditation

I wrote an article for the Chopra Center decoding 5 top types of meditation.  A list of many types follows:

  • Primordial Sound Meditation. 
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
  • Zen. Zen is also referred to as Zazen
  • Transcendental Meditation. 
  • Guided Meditation
  • Vipassana Meditation
  • Qigon
  • Taoist Meditation
  • Loving Kindness
  • Being in a Flow State

No Down Side

The potential benefits of mindful practice certainly make it worth your effort and time. If you really struggle to sit I suggest the following mindful alternatives:

picking up stones or sea glass or shells at a beach

bird watching

sending imaginary hugs to everyone you love

square breathing (inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4)


I hope you will give mindfulness or full blown meditation a try. It’s one of seven science backed practices I love using to help people to flourish.