Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps -- why it doesn't work

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Image: Michael Ungar. Used with permission.

How much can grit, motivation and positive thinking actually matter when the world around us is starved of support and opportunity? A billion-dollar self-improvement industry always puts responsibility for change on our shoulders. But this approach, which owes more to the myths of rugged individualism and victim-blaming politics than to credible scientific research, produces few real and lasting improvements to our health and happiness.

Michael Ungar's mind-bending new book, Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and The Path to Success, reveals the emptiness of the self-improvement movement and offers instead a stunning new perspective on success and personal change.

In this conversation with David Peck, he explores resilience, the seduction of hope, herd immunity, why selfishness often backfires and why the self help industry isn’t working.

What we really need when things get tough and the odds are stacked against us, he writes, are strong support systems and an environment rich in opportunity. Using the science of resilience and real-life stories from across classes and cultures, he shows how nurturing spouses and families, supportive employers, and effective institutions are the real differences between success and failure in our lives. The good news is that it is easier to change your world than it is to change yourself.

About the Author: Michael Ungar is among the best known writers and researchers on the topic of resilience in the world. His work has changed the way resilience is understood, shifting the focus from individual traits to the interactions between people and their families, schools, workplaces, and communities. As the Canada Research Chair in child, family and community resilience and professor of social work at Dalhousie University, as well as a family therapist, he has helped to identify the most important factors that influence the resilience of children and adults during periods of transition and stress. He is the author of 15 books that have been translated into five languages, numerous manuals for parents, educators, and employers, as well as more than 170 scientific papers. Ungar's immense influence comes from his ability to adapt ideas from his research and clinical practice into best-selling works like Too Safe For Their Own Good: How Risk and Responsibility Help Teens Thrive and I Still Love You: Nine Things Troubled Kids Need from Their Parents. His blog Nurturing Resilience appears on Psychology Today's website.

Ungar is also the founder and director of the Resilience Research Centre where he coordinates over 10 million dollars in research in more than a dozen countries. 

Image: Michael Ungar. Used with permission.

F2F Music: David Peck and Face2Face. Used with permission.

For more information about David Peck's podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.

With thanks to Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.

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