Psychologist Pierre Blockelet about Positive Psychology

I had the opportunity to ask Pierre Blockelet, a French psychologist based in Normandie, some questions about happiness, more precisely positive psychology.

Wondering © 2016 Eva Bonneville

Q:  How would you describe happiness?

P.B: Well, happiness depends on each individual. It’s different for each one of us. There isn’t a precise and concrete definition to it. It’s diverse and personal. We also have different happiness depending on our age. Even for an individual the definition of happiness changes along with time. I would say that happiness is individual and temporal.

Q: As you point out, a general definition of happiness may not be the most relevant. However, as we notice with positive psychology, the question of happiness is a point of concern for many.

P.B: Yes and that’s an interesting observation. Actually people have the freedom to ponder about what is happiness because they already have their physiological needs met. I refer here to Maslow’s pyramid which suggests that our basic needs are satisfied, people don’t have to worry about starvation, thirst or lack of sleep. But then, whether we are aware of it or not, we are still expecting something else to reach a higher state of wellbeing. At the same time, I don’t want to say that expectation of change is negative. I’m currently working with eldery people who don’t have many hopes for the future. The few years they have left does little to raise their expectations of any improvement in their situations. They don’t have future perspectives. For students and younger generations this is generally different. Their lives can get better and knowing this alone can improve levels of happiness.

Q: Do you think happiness is connected with being hopeful?

P.B: We could say that happiness is the possibility to hope for a state of improvement. However to come back to my first point, we tend to keep waiting. And the younger we are, the more we are waiting for something, for love, for a life change, for a material improvement or something else. So happiness and hope go together and at the same time acceptance is necessary in finding balance.

Q: Let’s talk more precisely about positive psychology. It’s a field which seems to have emerged quite recently, isn’t it?

P.B: Yes, when I studied psychology we didn’t talk much about it. In psychology like in medecine, the urgency is to first treat what is ill, what is severe. Then we can think about wellbeing. Even though, people looking for this can aslo have an abnormal behavior. For instance they may fear that their state of happiness won’t last long and constantly feel anxious. In this case it may be a form of General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) where a background stress is permanent which is abnormal and unhealthy. However, it’s not as serious as some other mental disorders.

Q: Could you explain what is positive psychology about exactly?

P.B: It’s about helping people to have a satisfactory life. Being more content with what they have. You have everything to be happy but you may not be aware of it. Happiness is relative. Someone else in your shoes would probably tell you that he would be really fulfilled. Dissatisfaction is complicated when we think of it as depending on living conditions. But the end of the day it’s more of an internal factor, a way of seeing.

Q: Do you have some advice to improve our wellbeing?

P.B: Get to know yourself. It will help you to be more satisfied and appreciate your life. And thinking ‘I’m not happy because I don’t see what I already have‘ instead of thinking ‘I’m not happy because I miss this’.

Q: I would like to come back to living conditions and the insecurity that comes with life. It’s something that generates stress, fear and un-ease. How could we cope with that insecurity?

P.B: There is a theory that illustrates well this insecure aspect of our lives which is the “cork theory”. Like a cork in the ocean, we can’t control everything, hazard is simply part of our future. To appreciate life we should be like this cork following the movements of the waves. It is accepting this part of uncertainty. There is a nice proverb, Buddhist I think, saying ”If your problem has a solution, then why worry about it? If your problem doesn’t have a solution, then why worry about it? You won’t find one’‘. In my work with elderly people this phrase makes so much sense. Either they accept that their time is limited or they remain dissatisfied, fighting against life’s process. Well, I have an other example. If you think about a ginger-haired guy who doesn’t accept his hair colour he may dye it. He’s hiding his issue but the dissatisfaction remains. A more helpful behavior would be to just accept it.

Q: However when we think about injustices in life, acceptance may not always be the best solution. As a final question, I would like to ask you what do you think about this.

P.B: Yes I agree, acceptance doesn’t mean inhibiting our actions. It’s also important to look for improvements otherwise we would never evolve. We can work on things but without confining ourselves to utopia. If we are too far removed from reality, we will end up being disappointed and dissatisfied. I hope this answers your question.

Q: Yes, it does. Thank you very much. It has been a pleasure to discuss with you. It was a really interesting discussion.

P.B: You’re welcome. It has been a pleasure as well.

Get in contact: Pierre Blockelet 


Which art inspires you?

3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge: Day 3

Hi! That’s my last quote for the 3 Days, 3 Quotes challenge. I thanks despeinadaporloslibros who made me discover this blogger challenge. The quote I share today is about simplicity and acceptation. Hope it will inspire you.


”There’s no magic bullet; there’s no pill that you take that makes everything great and makes you happy all the time. I’m letting go of those expectations, and that’s opening me up to moments of transcendent bliss.”

Anne Hathaway (a contemporary actress and singer)

3 Days, 3 Quotes rules:

  • Post a quote a day for 3 days.
  • Nominate 3 bloggers everyday.
  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.


I’d like to nominate:

3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge: Day 2

Hi! It’s now the second day of 3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge and I thanks despeinadaporloslibros who made me discover this blogger challenge. The quote I share today is I think thoughtful and relevant in today’s world. Hope it will inspire you.


”Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing.” 

John Stuart Mill (an influential philosopher and political economist)

3 Days, 3 Quotes rules:

  • Post a quote a day for 3 days.
  • Nominate 3 bloggers everyday.
  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.


I’d like to nominate:


3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge: Day 1

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all well at this end of October. Today, I would like to share with you a quote. I have recently discovered the 3 days, 3 quotes challenge thanks to Laura. She has the blog despeinadaporloslibros which is a lovely one full of amazing writings, you should have a look! I’m glad she did. I think there are some quotes small and simple but they convey much more than they appear. They say the essential. The quote I’m sharing with you is, for me, one of them and it’s a quotes I would like to bear mind everyday.


”You have succeeded in life

when all you really want

is only what you really need.”

Vernon Howard (a great spiritual teacher, writer and philosopher).

3 Days, 3 Quotes rules:

  • Post a quote a day for 3 days.
  • Nominate 3 bloggers everyday.
  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.


I’d like to nominate:





‘Happy’ a documentary wandering from India to Denmark

I discovered the documentary Happy a few months ago. And there is no better way to learn about happiness than by watching it. Roko Belic, the realisator did an amawing job. He travelled around the globe to meet people driving tuk tuk, living with more than 5 other family or spending hours meditating. Their stories give a different views of what bring happiness or not. For instance, a man spending is time between the river and his family shares his everyday life and explains how fulfilled he is. With other stories we hear about Karoshi which means in Japanese to work oneself to death. And we are surprised how far we can go when we bury our heads in the sand…

To illustate all those features, there are interviews from professors, psychologists or neuroscientists. With them we learn how much happiness was actually studied. They are many courses in Harvard largely attended. Plus positive psychology is a field emerging and beginning to be known. It’s not as old and developed as abnormal psychology but there are already many researches done and books written about it. The explanations we have with those scientists broad our understanding and sometimes reveal what happens in our head!

Well, I won’t tell you much more otherwise there is no surspise. So if you feel like going on a trip in pursuit of happiness you should definitely delve into it.

I leave you the trailer down to give you a flavour!