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  • An Aide-Mémoire :
  • Positive Psychology Book (2011) :
  • Overcoming Depression Self-help : 
  • Miriam Akhtar, MAPP



26 February 2012 

Dear Friends

As we enter a new era of economic uncertainty and environmental concern, polls show that many people consider the condition of our world to be getting worse.  Against this background of anxiety, depression has become the modern epidemic.  Yet, as well as bringing nightmares and despair, could our current crisis also call forth strengths and qualities associated with positive mental health?  CHRIS JOHNSTONE, 2009

Another equally astute observer of human nature in our time, psychiatrist Alice Miller, understands the opposite of depression not to be gaiety [or happiness] but vitality. How full of vitality are we these days?  And how full of vitality are our institutions of worship, education, politics, economics?  

It seems that every month a new ecological disaster is produced by us humans, 'the two-legged ones'.  Mother Earth is the victim.  It doesn't take a genius to deduce that if this continues eventually we and our children will pay the price.  If we persist in poisoning the 'mother of all' then we will ultimately poison ourselves.  

What then of vitality?  What then of the future?

Today, I make no apologies for winging your way the first of a planned series of blogs on the subject of Positive Psychology, this from a personal perspective.  For support, I am joining forces with positive psychologist, Miriam Akhtar. Welcome Miriam.  Glad to have you on board.

Marian @ Krysan





Connectedness.  That Miriam Akhtar's book is seen as a major breakthrough in the treatment of depression speaks volumes to me.  At the time of writing, this self-help book has reached No. 4 in the best-sellers list on Amazon for this genre - something else that bears witness to the fact that there is some major problem with the psyche, a wrong to be put right.  Miriam's book has only just been launched onto a crowded global marketplace and its already heading for the top.

The Navajos were right.  Mother Earth does indeed bestow 'good health, good soil, good forests, good bodies, good minds, good souls', but again the question arises, 'Are humans responding to this immense act of blessing?'  Thankfully for humanity, the short answer is 'yes'. Ours is a time of emerging awareness of the interconnectedness of all things and, without doubt, human imagination and creativity continue to thrive - witness for instance the reach and content of Miriam's book (and this website - half a million hits so far this year alone). 

Creativity.  It is important, even imperative, that we remain positive.  All is not lost. It cannot be.  Carl Jung said that creativity emerges 'from the realms of Mothers' and there are plenty of us around. Who can argue with the fact that the maternal is the place of new birth, of new wombs, of new stories, of new beginnings, of new possibilities. Remember, a book called Half the Sky? Remember, the principle of the Divine Feminine?  

Encouragingly, Miriam Akhtar is a woman whose latest book is a must read for those (like me) who believe that our right brains - wherein lies creativity and imagination - are indeed awakening in our time. Overcome the black dog of depression that is distorting your view of life and holding you back.  Find out about the upward spiral of wellbeing, and how you can put the vitality back into your very being.  Stay tuned and in balance. Be mindful.

AKHTAR, MIRIAM (2012), Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-help strategies for happiness, inner strength and well-being, London, pub. Watkins Publishing.


  1. The Positive Approach to Depression
  2. The Positive Psychology Story of Happiness
  3. Positive Emotions: The Upward Spiral to Wellbing
  4. Savouring the Moment
  5. The Attitude of Gratitude
  6. Meditation: the Mindful Approach
  7. Learning Optimism: Psychological Self-defence
  8. Resilence: The Road to Recovery
  9. Positive Connections: Other People Matter
  10. Vitality: Mind, Body and Spirit
  11. From Strength to Strength: You at Your Best
  12. Positive Directions: Moving Forward

Children of God.  Again, I turn for inspiration to the psychiatrist Alice Miller who has worked for over twenty years with severely depressed youth. She speaks of children, 'not as creatures to manipulate or to change, but as messengers from a world we once deeply knew, but we have long since forgotten'.  With good reason, she asks: 'What would happen if all parents and all of society treated our children as if they were children of God?'

What, indeed?

As a teacher of firm-convictions born of long-experience, the initial attraction of Miriam Akhtar's brand of positive psychology was through her work with young people and her conviction (matching mine) that by focusing on the positive, you can also alleviate the negative. Here's what Miriam has to say about one of her most memorable experiences of working with the young,

"... I ran a pilot of positive psychology for vulnerable adolescents with alcohol problems.  They drank to escape from their problems, as a short cut to get happy and as a quick release from the stress they felt.  These young people lacked stability in their lives - most were in temporary accommodation, estranged from their families, living in hostels or 'sofa' surfing." AKHTAR, 2011

You'll have got the picture. These people of tender years were dealing with abuse, violence, drugs, crime, family breakdown, ill-health, bereavement, literacy and financial difficulties.  Virtually all had dropped out of education, some were young offenders with tags on their ankles and there was one pregnant teenager. 

Golden Moments.  'Instead of taking the approach of focusing on their alcohol problems as per the normal 'disease model' treatment, those issues were put to one side with only one of the 16 hours of the programme directly addressing their binge-drinking. Instead, the course concentrated on wellbeing, resilience, meditation, strengths, positive relationships, goal-setting and the body-mind connection.' AKHTAR, 2011  

Miriam further reports that, as the weeks went by, the members of the group started feeling better and began to flourish.  Indeed, there was a transformation, 'the most exciting side-effect of the focus on wellbeing was that drinking dropped dramatically - by two-thirds - with some giving up alcohol altogether'. 

She says, "Incidentally, the pregnant teenager, who was so pessimistic that her key worker described her as 'almost afraid to think of what good can happen for fear of what bad might happen', went on to give birth to a baby daughter and named her ... Faith." AKHTAR, 2011

And so, positive psychology turned out to be a spectacularly successful approach. Many can vouch for the fact that it works with people of all ages, from all walks of life, some living in circumstances and with hurts that most of us can't even imagine. Without further ado, here are just three of the many recommendations for this brand new self-help book on overcoming depression by Miriam Akhtar:

1. “My advice is to give this book a go. If I was going to buy one book on positive psychology to treat depression, I’d choose an author who’d been properly trained as a positive psychologist, who knows how to write in an engaging and accessible way, and who understands, first-hand, the challenges of depression. In short, I’d choose Miriam.”  Dr Phil Hammond, doctor, journalist, broadcaster and comedian

2.  "A wonderful set of ideas and techniques that can help reduce depression and build happiness. They're simple, engaging, practical and - most importantly - they're all based on evidence from the latest positive psychology research, so we know they really work."  Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness

3.  "Everyone who's suffered from depression knows that tablets alone aren't the solution.  But what is?  You will find the answer in this superb book.  It was only when I read this book that I realized a lot of the things I instinctively do to stay positive have been proven to work and yet I rarely discuss them with patients.  But I will now."  Phil Hammond 

Like Dr. Hammond, I have befriended lots of people with depression over the years. Many have been greatly helped by medication - at least in the short term.  What people have in common is that all of them are looking for ways to help themselves. The question would seem to be whether you can learn the benefits of positive psychology from a book (like Miriam's) or whether you have to shell out for a happiness coach or a therapist? 

Once more, you are urged to give this book a go. By concentrating on the positives of life we can change the way we think, even - given time - repair the damage of trauma to delicate neural pathways. In my own experience, the application of positive psychology strategies - as described in Miriam Akhtar's book - brought me back from the brink. Positive Psychology administered by a three-year-old saved my life. I can smile again. 

Having now brought to your kind attention a new book and a new way of thinking, I will return soon with a related blog called FOOTPRINTS ...  In this article, I intend to explore more precisely how I first used the strategies of Positive Psychology to enhance my life and, through me, the lives of my family and the many people my life touches. 

Meet a Positive Psychology convert, an advocate who flew in on a wing and a prayer - and thankfully landed safely on terra firma.

"What you can count doesn't count for much. What you cannot count counts for everything."  ALBERT EINSTEIN  

How true ...  

  • The Earth, its feet are my feet,
  • The Earth, its legs are my legs,
  • The Earth, its body is my body,
  • The Earth, its thoughts are my thoughts,
  • The Earth, its speech is my speech.  NAVAJO CHANT

I see Earth, it is so beautiful. 

Wise words.  Thank you for joining me.  Do keep an eye out for the next article on the subject of Positive Psychology. See FOOTPRINTS ...  Learn how it gave me the strength to carry on, energized by a renewed zest for life. 

See as if for the first time.  Sunlight everywhere.

Marian @ Krysan



Miriam Akhtar's website offers news of training opportunities and much else to do with her wellbeing consultancy.  Please, click on the link below for easy access. 


AKHTAR, MIRIAM (2011), Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-help strategies for happiness, inner strength and well-being, London, pub. Watkins Publishing.

FOX, MATTHEW, (1988), The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, New York, pub. HarperCollins.

JOHNSTONE, CHRIS, (2009), Resilience, recovery and the self-help SSRI, Journal of Healthcare, Volume 6 Issue 3, November 2009  

KRISTOF & WUDUNN, (2010), Half the Sky: How to Change the World, pub. London, Virago Press.


The Coming of the Cosmic Christ is dedicated to the young, and to the youth in all of us.  May we grant one another the opportunity to live out our dreams, to care for  the wounded child in one another, and to pass on to others still unborn an earth as alive and diverse and wondrous as the one we have inherited.  - FOX, 1988

- ENDS -

4,686 reads @ 2015-05-05

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If you think of psychological health as a continuum with -10 as very unhappy, 0 is neutral and +10 is very happy, clinical psychologists and therapists will aim to get you to 0. Positive psychology aims to get you past 0 into the plus scale of happiness and flourishing.


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