The Antidote to Fear & Anxiety – The Courage Story Exercise

The antidote for fear, anxiety and nervousness is the cultivation of courage. There are a variety of ways to do this. The most useful for my clients has been to write out your own Courage Story.

Bravery and valor are arguably among the most important of the 24 character strengths. And they fall within the virtue cluster of courage. I’ve always found a truckload of truth in this quotation:

“The secret of life is this: When you hear the sound of the cannons, walk toward them.”

So let me ask you to think back over your life:

“What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?”

Sample answers I’ve heard: Moving across country to a new city without a job…. Going back to school as a single parent with an infant….Staying with my dearest friend as she died of cancer…..Learning to dance at 60…Applying to a graduate program at UC Berkeley….

Mine was facing down my own social anxiety to do a daily primetime radio show.
What’s yours?

Writing Your Courage Story.

Write a succinct one page story about the most courageous thing you’ve ever done. The time period could range from minutes to days or months to years. Be sure to give your story a clear, crisp ending.

Elements to include might be:

• The situation,
• What you feared,
• Why it required your courage,
• What your experience felt and looked like (details are good, sensory details are better!)
• How you acted despite the fear,
• And be sure to give your story a solid, richly detailted ending.


John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

University of Leicester produces the first-ever ‘world map of happiness’

Happiness is … being healthy, wealthy and wise

Adrian White, Analytic Social Psychologist at the University of Leicester produces first ever global projection of international differences in subjective well-being; the first ever World Map of Happiness.

UK 41st out of 178 countries for happiness.

Happiness is found to be most closely associated with health, followed by wealth and then education.

A University of Leicester psychologist has produced the first ever ‘world map of happiness.’

Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist at the University’s School of Psychology, analysed data published by UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR, to create a global projection of subjective well-being: the first world map of happiness.

The projection, which is to be published in a psychology journal this September, will be presented at a conference later in the year. Participants in the various studies were asked questions related to happiness and satisfaction with life. The meta-analysis is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide. For this study data has also been analysed in relation to health, wealth and access to education.

Whilst collecting data on subjective well-being is not an exact science, the measures used are very reliable in predicting health and welfare outcomes. It can be argued that whilst these measures are not perfect they are the best we have so far, and these are the measures that politicians are talking of using to measure the relative performance of each country.

The researchers have argued that regular testing as a collaboration between academics in different countries would enable us to track changes in happiness, and what events may cause that. For example what effect would a war, or famine, or national success have on a country’s members’ happiness. .

Adrian White said: “The concept of happiness, or satisfaction with life, is currently a major area of research in economics and psychology, most closely associated with new developments in positive psychology. It has also become a feature in the current political discourse in the UK.

“There is increasing political interest in using measures of happiness as a national indicator in conjunction with measures of wealth. A recent BBC survey found that 81% of the population think the Government should focus on making us happier rather than wealthier.

“It is worth remembering that the UK is doing relatively well in this area, coming 41st out of 178 nations.

“Further analysis showed that a nation’s level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels (correlation of .62), followed by wealth (.52), and then provision of education (.51).

“The three predictor variables of health, wealth and education were also very closely associated with each other, illustrating the interdependence of these factors.

“There is a belief that capitalism leads to unhappy people. However, when people are asked if they are happy with their lives, people in countries with good healthcare, a higher GDP per captia, and access to education were much more likely to report being happy.

“We were surprised to see countries in Asia scoring so low, with China 82nd, Japan 90th and India 125th. These are countries that are thought as having a strong sense of collective identity which other researchers have associated with well-being.

“It is also notable that many of the largest countries in terms of population do quite badly. With China 82nd, India 125th and Russia 167th it is interesting to note that larger populations are not associated with happy countries.”

“The frustrations of modern life, and the anxieties of the age, seem to be much less significant compared to the health, financial and educational needs in other parts of the World. The current concern with happiness levels in the UK may well be a case of the ‘worried well’.”

The 20 happiest nations in the World are:

1. Denmark 
2. Switzerland 
3. Austria 
4. Iceland 
5. The Bahamas 
6. Finland 
7. Sweden 
8. Bhutan 
9. Brunei 
10. Canada 
11. Ireland 
12. Luxembourg 
13. Costa Rica 
14. Malta 
15. The Netherlands 
16. Antigua and Barbuda 
17. Malaysia 
18. New Zealand 
19. Norway 
20. The Seychelles

Other notable results include:

23. USA 
35. Germany 
41. UK 
62. France 
82. China 
90. Japan 
125. India 
167. Russia

The three least happy countries were:

176. Democratic Republic of the Congo 
177. Zimbabwe 
178. Burundi



To view an interactive version of the map, download a .EPS format for publication, or to view extra information visit: High Definition Formats are available from University of Leicester press office: email

Use of the map is subject to the credit line “Adrian White, Analytic Social Psychologist, University of Leicester. The data used to construct the map were extracted from a meta-analysis published by the New Economics Foundation (Marks, N. et al. (2006). The Happy Planet Index. London: New Economics Foundation).”

 From EurekAlert!

The Secret to Success is Happiness

I spent my day Sunday creating an uplifting, elevating, and inspiring video which shares a bit that studies have shown about happiness, success and life satisfaction.

I was all pumped up after finishing this video last night. And I showed it to my wife.

After watching it, she turns to me and says, ‘In that case, SHOULDN’T you be happier?!’

Ouch, called on  my own stuff. However, the idea is not an absolute happiness. The idea is relative happiness.

We all start from different places in terms of our genetic set point for happiness. It just so happens that my set point was at a 1 or a 2 on a 10 point scale when I began my journey. So the fact that I’m now at a 6 or 7 is a massive improvement. On top of the fact that we have four children which makes the journey a little more volatile as at times it feels like you are only as happy as your least happy child (line from TV show The Middle). So we all need daily reminders like this in our lives!

Please take a look and let me know your thoughts. Please leave a comment below if it resonates with you.



Inspirational, Joyous, Elevating, Positive Video to Act as Great Daily Reminder of What is Truly Important.

The goal of life is happiness. Strive for happiness despite the inevitable vicissitudes of life!

How Do You Live Life? Do You Run From Your Demons? Or Do You Make a Stand?

‘I have become comfortably numb.’  – Pink Floyd

‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.’  – Henry David Thoreau

‘And I just can’t keep living this way
So starting today, I’m breaking out of this cage
I’m standing up, Imma face my demons
I’m manning up, Imma hold my ground
I’ve had enough, now I’m so fed up
Time to put my life back together right now’  – Eminem

Do you live life by running away from pain? By running away from conflict? By fleeing internal dis-ease?

Or do you live life by seeking meaning? The tireless pursuit of purpose?

Purpose is made possible by positive emotions. Without the feeling of curiosity or interest or passion or love, you may miss meaning.

So here’s a quick tip…turn one negative into a positive – shift negating nervousness into energizing excitement.

From the inside, nervousness is the same as excitement.

Both elevate the heart rate.

Both cause a sensation of butterflies in the stomach.

Both get the blood going more quickly in the body.

The only difference is HOW you interpret the bodily sensations in your mind.

So the next time you begin to get nervous, tell yourself, ‘Alright, I’m getting excited now!’

This will help reframe the situation as one in which you are growing comfortable in your discomfort.

And this is critical. It is essential that you get comfortable in your own discomfort. Because that is HOW you begin to get healthy – psychologically, emotionally, physically, financially.

You must take a risk. You must step outside your comfort zone if you want to succeed.

Pursue your purpose in life. Make a mark on meaning.

This one step will change your life.

So take the first step – tell yourself ‘I am excited now.’ 

And remember, avoiding disease is NOT the same as pursuing health.

Have a great weekend!


John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Positive psychology coach

Author, speaker, trainer, bald white guy 🙂