Campus News

NPR Features Prof. Barbara Held Essay

Story posted October 23, 2007

Barbara Held, Barry N. Wish Professor of Psychology and Social Studies, appeared on National Public Radio's All Things Considered on Monday, October 22, 2007. Prof. Held was invited to compose and deliver an essay for the program's "This I Believe" segment.

Prof. Barbara Held

"My essay is about how I came to arrive at my belief that there is what I have called a 'tyranny of the positive attitude in America' and that there is no one right way to cope with all the pain of living," said Prof. Held. The essay contains references to her personal life and professional expertise.

Click here to listen to Prof. Held's "This I Believe" essay and view the text.

"This I Believe" segments air nationally on NPR's All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, reaching an estimated 14 million listeners. Held's commissioned piece joins the ranks of essays from those whom NPR calls "prominent citizens" including Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, Bill Gates and Isabel Allende.

"I believe that there is no one right way to cope with all the pain of living. ...If we are prevented from coping in our own way, be it 'positive' or 'negative,' we function less well."

Held appeared on NPR's Talk of the Nation in August 2000, in a show about optimism and pessimism in which she debated a member of the positive psychology movement.

Held has also been quoted in newspapers and magazines across the country, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Smithsonian magazine. She has also discussed the topic on NBC's Today Show. Click here for a link to the story and to see portions of the interview with Prof. Held.


Held's book, Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching: A 5-Step Guide to Creative Complaining (St. Martin's Griffin, 2001), in which she urges people to stop pretending that everything is fine, has been referenced widely in conjunction with Held's viewpoints. The book was the subject of another appearance on Today in 2001, and is mentioned on the home page of a Web site maintained by Complaints Choirs Worldwide.

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