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Smiles all round: why sharing happy news is good for you and everyone you know

The Conversation

Lea Waters:  Professor, Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology, Director of the Centre for Positive Psychology, University of Melbourne

I have some good news for you: happiness is contagious and affects the happiness of others with whom you are connected.

That’s right – according to recent research by the University of Pennsylvania – making yourself and those around you happy is not only possible, but really quite easy. All you have to do, quite literally, is spread the word.

Titled What Makes Online Content Viral?, the study tracked the circulation of almost 7000 articles from the New York Times over a three-month period and found that positive articles were shared more often than negative ones.

Similar studies of online behaviour also suggest we’re more likely to use words like “happy, love, nice and sweet” online than “worried, hurt, sad and ugly” and that we share our positive daily experiences 70% of the time.

These studies form part of a veritable swathe of research into the way moods and emotions spread between people linked through online social networks. According to a two-decade long study conducted by researchers at University of California, San Diego, happiness is not only highly contagious but online communities may actually “magnify the intensity of global emotional synchrony”.

In research carried out at Tübingen University, scientists who tracked the emotional responses of Facebook users in Germany and the US found that reading other people’s positive posts triggered happiness in 64% of people.

Research shows that when it comes to social media, good news travels just as fast as bad news.


Think of it this way: Your good news positively influences your friends, who in their turn positively influence their friends. With one positive post you can brighten up the day of someone you have never met.

On the flip side, however, negative emotions spread through networks too. In an online social network study in the US using data from millions of Facebook users, rainfall was found to negatively affect the emotional content of people’s status updates, and this influenced the negativity of posts made by friends in other cities who were not experiencing rainfall. Negativity, it showed, begets negativity.

Sharing your positive news also, research suggests, has direct perks for you. Communicating a positive experience you have had with another person heightens the impact of the positive experience itself because you get to re-live and re-savour the experience.

When researchers from four universities across the United States partnered with eharmony they found that sharing positive news between partners boosted happiness and life satisfaction. As Virginia Wolf so eloquently states: “Pleasure has no relish unless we share it”.

Understanding the impact good – and bad – news can have on our moods is important for many reasons. In the midst of a 24/7 news cycle dominated by stories about violence, war, natural disasters and corruption – think of the old media adage “if it bleeds, it leads” – it’s little wonder people report depression and worry after watching nightly news bulletins.

The reaffirming aspect of this research is that it shows we want to hear good news and we are using social media as a medium to create and disseminate it.

Further evidence for this desire for uplifting news can be found in the burgeoning of websites such as Positive News, which since being established in July has become the world’s first crowdfunded global media cooperative. The paper is now owned by 1526 readers, journalists and supporters.

Happiness is contagious: spread the word.


Another example is the Real Life Heroes series by KST TV on YouTube, along with sites including Good News Network, Joy News Network, Daily Good, HuffPost Good news, Oh My Goodness, Positive News, Sunny Skyz and Gimundo.

So, how can you go about sharing good news? You can visit the sites above and share their positive stories with others. You can commit yourself to writing more positive posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and sharing more good news in person. You can start your own way to share and spread positive news.

I have recently used my twitter account (@ProfLeaWaters) to set up a Positive Detective campaign and asked my network to spot examples of positive qualities in others. I wake up every day to a new positive tweet and so do all of those in my network. It is an easy and effective way to get some positive emotional therapy.

Sharing your good news might seem like a small gesture but it can have a big effect and provide people with a life raft in the sea of negativity that is often mainstream media. Isn’t it time we steered our own boat?

Incoming chief scientist Alan Finkel puts forward vision for Australia without coal

ABC_LogoThe Federal Government’s new chief science advisor, Alan Finkel, has advocated for an end to coal-fired power but acknowledged it will not happen “overnight”.

His comments come as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heads off a push from a group of well-known Australians to put a moratorium on new coal mines.

Dr Finkel has been appointed to take over as chief scientist, providing independent advice to the Government on science, technology and innovation.

He replaces Professor Ian Chubb, who will have held the role for almost five years when his tenure concludes in December.

During the media event to announce his appointment, Dr Finkel was questioned about the future of coal-fired power.

“My vision is for a country, a society, a world where we don’t use any coal, oil, or natural gas because we have zero-emissions electricity in huge abundance,” Dr Finkel said.

“But you can’t get there overnight.”

An open letter, co-signed by 61 prominent Australians, has been published this morning calling on the French president to put coal exports on the agenda at the Paris climate talks in December.

The diverse group includes former Climate Change Authority head Bernie Fraser, leading academics, Wallabies player David Pocock and number of religious representatives.

They are also pushing for a global moratorium on new coal mines.

What does the chief scientist do?

  • Provides independent advice to the PM and other ministers on science, technology and innovation
  • Acts as a “champion” of science, research and the role of evidence in the community and government
  • Works as chief communicator of science to the public, with the aim of promoting understanding and enjoyment of science
  • Reports directly to the Minister for Science and works closely with the PM


Sir Gus Nossal on Australia’s new Chief Scientist

Sir Gustav Nossal
School of Thinking Science Panel and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Melbourne

COMMENT from The Conversation:
This is truly the most fantastic news. [Alan] Finkel is an extraordinary leader. He has proven himself in personal scientific research. He has succeeded in business in competitive fields. He has worked for the public good, most notably in his presidency of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

He has been unbelievably generous in philanthropy, supporting exciting causes. He has shown leadership in the university world. He is a scientific publisher of note. Beyond all this, he is a person of the highest intelligence, integrity and imagination.

It is difficult to think of anyone who would do this important job with greater distinction.

As an aside, Australia may be “getting two for the price of one”, as his wife, Elizabeth Finkel, is a distinguished science journalist and author.

This news has made my day, my week, my month and my year.


27 October 2015

Media release with the Prime Minister, Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP.

Dr Alan Finkel AO has been appointed Australia’s next Chief Scientist and will commence in the role in January 2016.

He succeeds Professor Ian Chubb AC who has served with distinction since May 2011. Professor Chubb’s term concludes at the end of 2015.

Dr Finkel is a prominent engineer, respected neuroscientist, successful entrepreneur and philanthropist with a personal commitment to innovation and commercialisation.

He is currently the Chancellor of Monash University and is President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).

His experience in science and the commercial sector means he is uniquely qualified to act as one of the Government’s key advisers on science and innovation, and on ways to translate our great scientific research into tangible outcomes for Australians and our economy.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said science and innovation are at the centre of the Government’s agenda and key to Australia remaining a prosperous, first world economy with a generous social welfare safety net.

“The Australian Government recognises the importance of science, innovation and technology to our future prosperity and economic security in an increasingly competitive and diverse global economy,” the Prime Minister said.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP congratulated Dr Finkel, who was selected from a high calibre field following an international search.

“Dr Finkel is renowned for his outstanding research, industrial and entrepreneurial achievements in Australia and overseas, his leadership and service in the university and education sector, the academies and national science bodies, and his experience in providing highquality expert advice to government,”Mr Pyne said.

“His will be a vital role in shaping Australia’s economic future and leading our national conversation on science, innovation and commercialisation across the research, industry and education sectors and with the wider community,” he said.

The new Chief Scientist will provide independent advice to the government on science, innovation and commercialisation and lift the profile of Australian scientific endeavour domestically and internationally.

Dr Finkel said he was thrilled with the opportunity to contribute to framing Australia’s participation in the agile 21st century.

“My personal experience across research, business and STEM education will guide my ability to formulate relevant advice,” Dr Finkel said.

“We exist in a competitive international environment and to compete effectively, business needs science, science needs business, Australia needs both.”

Mr Pyne also praised the current Chief Scientist for his landmark achievements in the role.

“Professor Ian Chubb has made an incredible contribution to science in Australia and we thank and commend him on his outstanding contribution as Australian Chief Scientist and also as an eminent university administrator and academic over the course of his distinguished career,” Mr Pyne said.

For more information, including Dr Finkel’s biography and information about the role of the Chief Scientist visit


What if Australia sold cleverness to China instead of coal?

Australia sells about AUD$20 billion dollars a year worth of coal to China. Prime Minister Tony Abbott used to claim that coal is good for China. Not everyone agrees. Many people think it’s time to give up smoking coal. It’s a health hazard.

Here’s a bvs!


What if the Clever Country sells Innovation to China?

Many Australians think cleverness is much better than coal. Australia can sell ten times the value of our coal sales in real Australian innovation assets to China. coal2clever. cvs2bvs.

With moonshot thinking. With a much bigger investment in science, in the CSIRO, in science and STEM education. With the inclusion of a Science Minister in the government. With a deeper engagement in the region Australia can become the Innovation Hub for South East Asia within ten years by 2025.

The Lord and the Master

Seeing the Leader of China in America this week reminded me of last year when he came to Australia.

At that time, I was doing a masterclass with a client group who were senior value advisors to the Tasmanian Government. They were anticipating a visit to Hobart by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, after the G20 in Queensland. Very exciting.
CHINESE President Xi Jinping will visit Tasmania in November. Picture: Munshi Ahmed/Bloom
We were comparing Chinese Thinking and English Thinking and, for those interested, these few lessons from School of Thinking might offer a comparison ...

Eric Bienstock

Eric M. Bienstock PhD is Vice Principal of the School of Thinking.

In New York City in 1980 Dr Bienstock was SOT’s first Graduate Thinking Instructor and was the first Chief Instructor of the School of Thinking. Later he became Managing Director of The Edward de Bono School of Thinking Inc.

He is an internationally recognized seminar leader, speaker and consultant on the subject of thinking.

Dr. Bienstock holds a Master’s degree in Mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and a Ph.D. from New York University where he studied Mathematics, Education and Learning Theory. He also holds an Honorary Degree in Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy from the Psychoanalytic Institute for Clinical Social Work, and was formerly a Professor at New York University and at The City University of New York, as well as a teacher of Mathematics for the NYC public schools.

Eric’s work at School of Thinking was published in 30 newspapers in the USA in a New York Times syndicated column entitled, “It’s time to put on your thinking caps” (April 1, 1984).

His work has also been published in such diverse publications as Business Week (cover story), The Boston Globe, Bottom Line Personal, Chemical Engineering, New York Magazine and Science Digest.

He is the author of Creative Problem Solving (a cassette program published by Random Audio), Thinking: A Special Report (published by Boardroom Books) and Success Through Better Memory (published by Perigee Books, a division of GP Putnams), and the originator of 3-Minute ThinkingTM and Thinking for R.E.S.U.L.T.S.TM

– Contact Eric at SOT by clicking here.


ENROL NOW! INSTRUCTOR TRAINING: next intake on 22 November, 2015

Linda says:

I wasn’t fortunate enough to have any leadership training at work, although I was given leadership roles, so I really enjoyed this training. The most important thing I have taken away from it is the various ways to think about the thinking of those you are leading. It will open me up to different ways of thinking!

Nic says:

Leadership training had always seemed vague to me. My BVS is that leadership is simpler than I’ve been making it. The key difference I will take away is exactly what was taught. Create a pipeline for those I lead. Teach the skills of PTO and GBB. Doing this will make me a better leader and at the same time I can stop worrying about this ‘mystical’ thing called leadership.



If you enjoyed x10 THINKING and find it both interesting and useful in your life then you are qualified to apply for this Advanced Thought Leadership Certificate (ATLC) training and have your name registered on SOT’s Roll of Thinking Instructors.

Thinking Instuctor training is leadership training and can be undertaken by any interested SOT member and is under the personal direction of Michael Hewitt-Gleeson.

How Can I Apply?

Application: If you wish to apply just write to Michael by clicking here.

If you can find a way to multiply your thinking skills by ten and also multiply your selling skills by ten, then you will also find that you have–as a result–multiplied your leadership skills by ten. This can be done through daily training and coaching.

I look forward to personally working with you in this next class of Thinking Instructors SOT (TISOT). And, on the successful completion of your TISOT training, to present you with your TISOT Certificate.




Who Can Be A Thinking Instructor?

There are no special qualifications or responsibilities for being a Thinking Instructor other than a genuine interest in thinking and in teaching thinking.

Many Thinking Instructors are school teachers, business people, sports professionals, parents and neighbours. There are four different types of Thinking Instructors:

– Self: Those who simply want the training for themselves. Who want to practise the skills in their own life for personal advancement, cognitive skill and well-being.

– Family: For teaching the skills to one’s family and friends and as a forum for family discussions to avoid conflict and deal with family crises.

– Business: Sharing the skills with colleagues, workmates, associates and clients to solve business problems and explore potential commercial opportunities. Also to find ways to cut costs and increase revenues. To raise morale and communications through employee participation and involvement in decision-making.

– School: Practising the skills in classrooms to accelerate learning and discussion skills and even, where possible, to teach THINKING as a separate curriculum subject.

– The above quote is from the Learn-To-Think Coursebook and Instructor’s Manual co-authored by Edward de Bono and Michael Hewitt-Gleeson de Saint-Arnaud (Capra/New, Santa Barbara USA, 1982, ISBN 0-88496-199-0). In 1982, Michael and Edward co-authored this book which became a cover story on all global editions of Readers Digest (at that time, the world’s highest-circulation magazine with 68 million readers) and SOT launched the biggest program in the world for teaching teachers-of-thinking.

Why “Thinking Instructors”?

Michael originated the idea of training thinking instructors when he co-founded School of Thinking with Edward de Bono in 1979 in New York.

Edward was very keen on the ‘train-the-trainer’ model and described it as ‘brilliant‘. He wrote to Michael from Cambridge (where he was a Professor of Investigative Medicine) saying, “training instructors has much more motivation”. After much discussion and planning, they decided to combine Michael’s CAP Train-the-trainer 6 principles with Edward’s CoRT Thinking syllabus and they started the School of Thinking on November 17, 1979 in New York.

The first intake for Thinking Instructors (TISOT) graduated in March 1980 in New York. One of the original graduates was Eric Bienstock who became the first Chief Instructor SOT and is now Vice Principal of the school.

What are Thinking Instructors?

The idea behind the School of Thinking’s ‘Thinking Instructor’ concept is threefold:

1. Thinking is a skill. It can be taught and learned like other skills.
2. The skills are designed to be simple, robust and effective. They are easy to teach and easy to learn.
3. Anyone who is interested can teach these skills to anyone who is interested in learning them.

As mentioned above, there are no special qualifications needed to learn SOT thinking skills and there are no special qualifications needed to pass on the skills as a Thinking Instructor. Having said that, SOT is also willing to list on our site those members who have completed the qualifying series of SOT training courses listed below and to issue them with the Thinking Instructor SOT (TISOT) Certificate.

— Click to download a Sample Certificate

If you enjoyed x10 THINKING and find it both interesting and useful in your life then you are qualified to apply for this advanced training and have your name registered on the Roll of Thinking Instructors.

How Can I Apply?

Application: If you wish to apply just write to Michael by clicking here.

SOT Instructor Certificate - 38 Lessons

- What is Thought Leadership and Leadership Thinking?

Thinking is the skill of leading your self. Leadership is the skill of helping other people to lead themselves. Like all skills, both leadership and thinking can be learned and developed.

Thought Leadership and Leadership thinking include the collection of strategies, tactics and skills that are used to train anyone who wants to become a much better thought leader and leadership thinker.

- Personal Training

This is my personal approach to leadership. There are many ways to approach this subject and, since you are interested in it, you've no doubt got ideas and experiences of your own to contribute. 

- Opt-in/Opt-out 

One of the great benefits of the online environment is the flexibility, convenience and autonomy it gives us. I also like the freedom of opt-in and opt-out. No pressure. No stress. If you like it you do it. If you don't like it you don't do it.
- Act of Will

However, even if you like the training it still takes an act of will on your part to persist with the lessons, invest the time and do the DFQs.

- 30 Days

The commitment in this training is 30 days. (5 DFQs x 4 weeks). When you complete all the DFQs you will qualify for the Advanced Thought Leadership Certificate (ATLC) which I will send you personally.

- Leadership Mood

Try to make your leadership training as enjoyable and as much fun as possible. From a cognitive point of view, mood is very important. Choose to enjoy your training. Try not to think of it as a chore. The leadership attitude is like the attitude you have when approaching an honours course or membership in an A-Team. Doing the training is good. Doing it with a leadership attitude is much better.

- The Pipeline and Peel The Orange

In this 30-days there are two quintessential leadership concepts I want you to learn and practise. The strong versions are used in training Royal Marines and elite military leaders. In this appropriate version I call them the Pipeline and the Peel The Orange or PTO.
If you not only get your head around these two leadership skills but also start using them in this next month, then we will have accomplished some effective and tangible leadership goals which will have been of great personal value to you.