Positive Psychology Expert Interview from Askimo – John Schinnerer Ph.D.

Here is an interview on positive psychology and positive emotions I recently did for Askimo, an expert site based out of Tel Aviv. Note there is a lag time between questions and responses due to the international video call.

I’ve been studying the question, “How Can I Be Happy?” for over 20 years. I love having some ways to answer this question now.

Feel free to leave your comments below. Let me know your thoughts!

To life, love and laughter,


John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Positive Psychology Coach
Expert Consultant to Pixar
Author of the award-winning Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion & Thought
Guide To Self, Inc.
913 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #280
Danville CA 94526
GuideToSelf.com – Web site
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How Can I Be Happy? Learn Positive Psychology!

To everyone, I wanted to say ‘Thank you’ for all your support over the past 2 years.
I just finished revising my award-winning book, Guide To Self: How Can I Be Happy? I thought I’d offer my supporters a free PDF copy of the book at http://www.siteproweb.com/guide-to-self-opt-in-blue-page. Just enter your name and email!

The book is my attempt to answer the question, How Can I Be Happy? The answer is based on the latest in positive psychology, psychoneuroimmunology and more. You will dig it. I guarantee it.

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How Can I Be Happy
Learn Positive psychology with John Schinnerer Ph.D.


To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer Ph.D.


John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Expert consultant to Pixar

Positive Psychology Coach

Author of the award-winning Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion & Thought

Guide To Self, Inc.

GuideToSelf.com – Web site

WebAngerManagement.com – 10-week online anger management course

DrJohnBlog.GuideToSelf.com –  Awarded #1 Blog in Positive Psychology by PostRank, Top 100 Blog by Daily Reviewer

@johnschin – Twitter

How Can I Be Happy? Resolve to Learn & Practice Happiness

Happiness is a skill that can be learned. However, like any worthwhile skill, it takes time, practice and dedication. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, put forth the idea of 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any given area. Chris Peterson suggested it takes 10 years to become an expert in a field.

You can learn to be happy. You must make the choice to put in time, energy and effort. As you learn the skills put forth by positive psychology, you will inexorably be drawn into more and more frequent spirals of positive emotions and thoughts, leading to more and more time spent in happiness.

Here is one of many skills to be learned in this ongoing process…

Capitalizing on Love – The Merit of the Active-Constructive Response

One of the foremost researchers in the area of love and marriage is Shelly Gable, an assistant professor of psychology at UCLA. Most researchers looking at marriage work on conflict management, how to create more harmony between partners, and how individuals in a couple cope with traumatic events.  Gable is one of a handful of researcher who looks at what makes a thriving marriage. Her work provides some valuable insights if you are interested in transforming your good relationship (e.g., friendship, marriage, parent or child) into a great one.

How Can I Be Happy - Learn Positive Psychology with John Schinnerer PhD
How Can I Be Happy?
Learn to Capitalize on Others’ Good News


Gable looks to see how you respond when your spouse tells you that he’s just been promoted, or your child tells you that she won Class President, or when your mother tells you she won a tennis tournament, or when your friend tells you she just won a huge lawsuit. Gable puts your responses into four different categories which break down as follows:

  1. An enthusiastic reaction such as “Wow! That’s tremendous. That’s the best thing I’ve heard all week. I’m sure there are more great things to come for you. You’ve definitely earned it. Congratulations!” This reaction is called the active-constructive response by Gable.
  2. A more subdued reaction where you share your happiness but say little. For example, “That’s nice dear.” This is the passive-constructive response.
  3. Or perhaps you point out some of the potential pitfalls or negatives within the good event. For instance, “Wow, I sure hope you can handle all that extra responsibility. Does this mean you will have to work extra hours?” Gable refers to this as the active-destructive response.
  4. Or, you might respond with disinterest and not respond to the good news at all. Most folks do this by merely changing the subject, “Yes, but what do you think about the weather outside?” This is known as the passive-destructive response.
How Can I Be Happy? Learn positive psychology with positive psych expert John Schinnerer PhD
How Can I Be Happy? Celebrate the Successes of Others

The first type of response, the active-constructive one, is called “capitalizing” by Gable and here’s the fascinating part…capitalizing amplifies the pleasure of the good event and creates an upward spiral of good feelings.

Gable has shown that capitalizing is one of the keys to strong, supportive, thriving relationships.

So how do you respond to good news from other people? Are you a “capitalizer” who creates upward spirals of positive emotions? Or do you turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the good news of others?

The consequences of learning how to be more of a “capitalizer” are impressive and robust. Couples who describe themselves as having a spouse who is active and constructive in response to their good news are:

  • More committed to the relationship
  • More in love
  • Happier in their marriage

Think about that the next time your love comes in the door with exciting news! And remember…practice, practice, practice!

To happiness and health,

John Schinnerer Ph.D.

About the Author

John Schinnerer, Ph.D., an expert in positive psychology, is revolutionizing the way in which people make sense of the mind, behavior and emotion. In December of 2011, he was one of three emotion experts (along with Paul Ekman and Dacher Keltner) to consult with Pixar on a feature-length movie in which the main characters are emotions. Much of his time is spent in private practice teaching clients the latest ways to turn down the volume on negative emotions such as anger, anxiety and stress. He has developed a unique coaching methodology which combines the best aspects of entertainment, humor, positive psychology and emotional management techniques. His offices are in Danville, California. He graduated from U.C. Berkeley Summa Cum Laude with a Ph.D. in educational psychology.  He has been an executive, speaker and coach for over 14 years.  John has presented to tens of thousands of people on positive psychology. He hosted over 200 episodes of Guide To Self Radio, a daily prime time radio show, in the SF Bay Area.    He wrote the award-winning book, ‘Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought,’ which is available at Amazon.com.  His blog, Shrunken Mind, was recently recognized as one of the top 3 in positive psychology on the web (drjohnblog.guidetoself.com ). His new video blog teaches people the latest ways to manage anger using positive psychology. (WebAngerManagement.com). He is currently working on a destination site to teach individuals paths to sustainable happiness via positive psychology and ongoing practice atHowICanBeHappy.com.

Positive psychology expert John Schinnerer PhDHow Can I Be Happy – Learn Positive Psychology w John Schinnerer PhD

Positive Psychology Quote of the Day

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” 

— e. e. cummings 

 it is a fascinating question to me…

If I have a client who is in an emotional ditch, in a funk, who believes in him first – himself or me?

I think it is highly difficult to believe in oneself first when down in the dumps. So I took a coaching lesson from Kermit the Frog (a highly acclaimed expert in psychology circles!). I was watching The Muppet Movie with my daughter recently when Kermit looked at his friend and said, “I believe in you!” At that moment, I felt something inside me. There was a recognition of “Ohmigod, I need to be saying this to clients!”


How Can I Be Happy Learn positive psychology with John Schinnerer PhD
Positive psychology of Kermit the Frog and ee cummings

Ever since then, I remind my clients that I believe in them. And this is exactly the point of e.e. cummings statement above. So who believes in you? And in whom do you believe?

To a meaningful, autonomous life,

John Schinnerer Ph.D.

Guide to Self

Consultant to Pixar for upcoming feature length film

Emotion Geek

Get a free PDF of John’s award-winning self-help book, Guide to Self, at www.GuideToSelf.com. Just enter your name and email address on the right side of the screen for instant access!