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Wat kan de psychologie bijdragen aan het grooste geluk voor het grootste aantal. Deze vraag vormt de rode draad in de loopbaan van Ad Bergsma. Hij past daarmee in de opkomende stroming van de positieve psychologie, die zich bezig houdt met het vergroten van de mentale weerbaarheid. Waar de traditionele psychologie zich vooral richt op menselijke zwakheden als depressiviteit, angst en verslaving, wil de positieve psychologie juist bestuderen op welke manier mensen ervoor kunnen zorgen dat ze floreren. Optimisme, emotionele intelligentie, actief problemen oplossen, goede sociale vaardigheden, het hanteren van stress en genieten zijn belangrijke bouwstenen voor de geestelijke gezondheid, maar hoe kunnen deze positieve krachten uitgebouwd worden?
Ad Bergsma studeerde in 1990 af als psycholoog aan de Universiteit Utrecht en heeft sindsdien over psychologische onderwerpen geschreven voor dagbladen, opiniebladen en vaktijdschriften. De laatste jaren heeft gewerkt aan een cursus over de psychologische aspecten van veroudering voor de Open Universiteit, bij uitgeverij Boom verscheen een boekje over succesvol ouder. Ook werkt hij aan de Erasmus Universiteit aan de afronding van een proefschrift over geluk.
Ad Bergsma is auteur van een tiental boeken over de psychologie met uiteenlopende onderwerpen als het geluk, onze hersenen, psychodiagnostiek en psychotherapie. Daarnaast maakte hij ook een psychologisch woordenboek, waarvan medio 2010 een nieuwe versie verschijnt. Zijn meest recente boek is Succesvol ouder worden dat in 2008 is verschenen.
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Ad Bergsma (1965) was born in one of the happiest countries in the world, The Netherlands. When he studied psychology his main areas of study were depression, anxiety and addiction. In 1990 he decided to shift focus to positive emotion and quality of life. He graduated as a psychologist from Utrecht University that same year. In 2011 he earned his Ph.D degree from Erasmus University Rotterdam with a thesis called 'Imperfectly Happy'.
 
He has borrowed a motto for his work from T.B. Macauley: 'Though quibbling about self-interest and motives, and objects of desire and the greatest happiness of the greatest number, is but a poor employment for a grown man, it certainly hurts the health less than hard drinking, and is immeasurably more humane than cock-fighting.'
 
Ad Bergsma is happy to be a psychologist, freelance writer and speaker on the subject of happiness and is frequently asked by various media to comment on this topic. His mission is to help people create and experience happiness at work. He publishes his research in the Journal of Happiness Studies and shares his insights with organisations and workers worldwide.
 
 

Hapiness at work

The famous positive psychologist Banara Fredrickson has received the first copy of our book Happiness at work at a positive psychology convention in The Netherlands. As autors of the book, Onno Hamburger and Ad Bergsma, are very proud.

Barbara Fredrickson receives first copy of new book happiness at work

 

Tweet Allen Frances

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Tweet_Allen_Frances

Allen Frances, the chair of the DSM-IV taskforce, was kind enough to tweet about my work on the happiness of people with mental disorders. I am honoured and grateful.

 

Wisdom and Happiness

Is wisdom the supreme part of happiness? Together with Monika Ardelt I have tried to give an empirical answer to this question. Our paper has appeared in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2012. You can download the paper here.

 

Take your share of happiness

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Seen in Berlin, summer 2012. It was an offer from a local yoga studio.
 

BBC interview

Invited by BBC Radio! Presenter Mark Richards was looking for the secrets of Paulo Coelho, author of best-selling books such as The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage. I was asked to comment because of my work on the use of self-help books to change lives. Broadcasted: BBC Radio 30 September 2010. You can still listen to the documentary: 

 

Can self-help books enhance happiness?

Guidance for how to live your life is provided in personal consults with professional psychologists. This kind of help is typically focused on specific psychological problems or choices in life. Yet most psychological advice for improving the quality of one’s life is not obtained in consulting rooms, but picked up from popularizations in the mass media. Empirical research shows that self-help books can contribute to problem solving, and in this paper I try to assess if the books can enhance happiness as well.
Guidance for how to live your life is provided in personal consults with professional psychologists. This kind of help is typically focused on specific psychological problems or choices in life. Yet most psychological advice for improving the quality of one’s life is not obtained in consulting rooms, but picked up from popularizations in the mass media. Empirical research shows that self-help books can contribute to problem solving, and in this paper I try to assess if the books can enhance happiness as well.
 

Thesis for sale

My thesis Impomslagerfectly Happy is for sale on the website of publisher Boxpress. You can order here. I have to warn you that I wrote twelve chapters in English and three in Dutch. So you may not be able to read them all. It is also possible to download a pdf of my thesis. Just  scroll down til, you see 2011 Imperfectly Happy. 

 

Summary Imperfecly Happy

This thesis is inspired by the utilitarian ideology that seeks the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers and tries to add to this cause considering three questions: 1) What is the quality of popular happiness advice? 2) Is unhappiness concentrated in people with mental disorders? 3) Does the pursuit of happiness cover all ground?

Happiness advice

What do philosophical and psychological self-help books recommend for leading a happy life and how well does this fit with research findings on conditions for happiness? An analysis of 57 psychological best-selling self-help books in the Netherlands shows that most deal with topics that are well correlated with happiness.

Read more...
 

The pleasures of pessimism

This is an article I wrote for the ma\gazine Ode. It was published in an abridged version.

Psychologically speaking, the catch phrase ‘Yes we can’ sums up a healthy mental attitude that enhances the probabilities of a life that is happily ever after. Taking the optimistic message literally, however, can have dire consequences. We may also need to appreciate the power of negativity. It is essential to acknowledge what we cannot.

Ask, believe, receive. This beautiful idea had no secrets for Andrea; it was firmly grounded in her personality. She recently discovered that the changes in her lifestyle that came with having to sit for hours in a row at a desk for her beloved new job, created bodily changes. She now has some trouble fitting into clothes that used to be loose. Although she dreads the idea she will look like her mother at middle age, she is not bothered by the first steps in this direction. Her picture of the future is as bright as ever. She has booked a holiday to a beach resort in four months, and she already imagines that she will look stunning in bathing suit. When her colleagues invite her for a drink in town, she enthusiastically agrees. She quickly takes a snack, because drinking means that dinner will be postponed.

Read more...
 

Papers about happiness

My apologies to all visitors who want to read in English. I am no native speaker and I am in the process of adapting my site for you all. This means that my language will not be flawless in the beginning. If you want to find my papers about happiness that have been edited by native speakers, just click. If you have seen any mistakes, please contact me.

 
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