“The missing heart of positive psychology” for mental and emotional fitness

Since the begin­ning of the Sharp­Brains blog, we have enjoyed fre­quent, insight­ful and nice com­ments by “Eleanor”. One day we decid­ed to track her back and see what work she was involved with, and we enjoyed learn­ing about what she does in the UK. There­fore, we asked her to write a guest entry here to intro­duce her­self, her orga­ni­za­tion and phi­los­o­phy. Eleanor, all yours!


Sharp­Brains Inc is bril­liant. Thanks for invit­ing me to con­tribute. I work for Mind­Fields Col­lege, based in the UK, which teach­es human givens psy­chol­o­gy to men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als, teach­ers, social work­ers, etc.

The human givens approach has been described as “the miss­ing heart of pos­i­tive psychology” and is named after its core organ­is­ing idea, that there are innate needs (or ‘givens’) phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al, which must be met for good men­tal health. These needs, which are genet­i­cal­ly pro­grammed into us, include secu­ri­ty, receiv­ing and giv­ing atten­tion, auton­o­my and con­trol, emo­tion­al con­nec­tion to oth­ers, feel­ing part of a wider com­mu­ni­ty, friend­ship, inti­ma­cy, pri­va­cy, sta­tus, sense of com­pe­tence and achieve­ment and to be stretched (from which comes our sense that life is mean­ing­ful). We also have innate resources (e.g. imag­i­na­tion, long-term mem­o­ry, the observ­ing self and a con­scious ratio­nal mind) required to ful­fil these needs, which are also givens.

After launch­ing our Mind­Fields Col­lege blog, I stum­bled across the Sharp­Brains blog, and was fas­ci­nat­ed to see that, by encour­ag­ing high­er pub­lic aware­ness of “Brain Fitness” they are addi­tion­al­ly pro­vid­ing valu­able and prac­ti­cal ways to help peo­ple get their emo­tion­al needs met too.

For exam­ple: com­plet­ing a brain gym ‘workout’ is an achieve­ment, and we have an innate need to achieve. The sat­is­fac­tion from this ful­fils oth­er emo­tion­al needs, such as the need to feel com­pe­tent, for sta­tus, and to be stretched. A busy brain is a healthy brain.

Fur­ther­more, Sharp­Brains also encour­age devel­op­ing a car­ing com­mu­ni­ty to sup­port the Brain and Mind Fit­ness of its mem­bers. Humans need to feel part of a net­work – con­nect­ed to oth­ers — and to know they have peo­ple to rely on.

Stress is your body’s way of telling you that needs are not being met. Just as stress has been shown to inhib­it cor­ti­cal devel­op­ment, it can also stop us get­ting our needs met. Emo­tion­al arousal is always a sig­nal that we have to act. If we don’t act, the arousal increas­es and too much emo­tion­al arousal makes us func­tion­al­ly “stupid”. When some­one is angry, anx­ious or depressed they will be unable to work on either their Mind or emo­tion­al fitness.

I’m sup­posed to be keep­ing this post pos­i­tive, but depres­sion is fas­ci­nat­ing and learn­ing about why it occurs can be all you need to know to stop your­self from get­ting depressed. One of the biggest prob­lems for peo­ple today is wor­ry­ing, which is linked to stress. There is so much to wor­ry about! But wor­ry­ing caus­es depres­sion by mak­ing us dream more intense­ly so we wake up tired and find it dif­fi­cult to moti­vate ourselves.

Inoc­u­lat­ing your­self against depres­sion involves reduc­ing stress, and Sharp­Brains have addressed this by pro­mot­ing stress-reliev­ing tech­niques in the same way that a human givens ther­a­pist will work to bring down emo­tion­al arousal lev­els in a dis­tressed patient. The Human Givens Insti­tute web­site, con­tains prac­ti­cal infor­ma­tion about how human givens ther­a­pists work to help peo­ple get their emo­tion­al needs met so they can go on with their lives.

So, in pro­mot­ing ways to devel­op Brain and Mind Fit­ness, Sharp­Brains have suc­ceed­ed in set­ting up anoth­er plat­form for help­ing peo­ple meet emo­tion­al needs as well as men­tal ones, both cru­cial for human devel­op­ment. This is why Sharp­Brains is so brilliant!



Note from Alvaro: Thanks Eleanor! we will keep doing our best. Thanks for all your contributions.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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