Lists of Inspiring Movies

"This is a story of two teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks fall in love during one summer together, but are tragically forced apart. When they reunite seven years later, their passionate romance is rekindled, forcing one of them to choose between true love and class order" - The Fetzer Institute

List of movies recommended by the Campaign for Love and Forgiveness by The Fetzer Institute.

Top 10 Movies on Character Strengths by the VIA Institute on Character which also has questions we can ask ourselves so we learn more from these movies. And here’s a list of movies for various character strengths.

"One of the most popular films ever made, perhaps due to the ease an individual can relate to the story of a man wrongfully imprisoned but never giving up hope." - Ryan Niemiec of The VIA Institute on Character

The Positive Psychology Oscars of 2010 by Ryan Niemiec, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist, coach, and Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character.

The Positive Psychology Oscars of 2011 by Ryan Niemiec, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist, coach, and Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character.

Positive Psychology Oscars: Honorable Mention by Ryan Neimiec

"Sometimes our best teachers are situations in which we use too much or too little of our best capacities. Natalie Portman’s brilliant and raw portrayal of a competitive and troubled ballet dancer depicts an overuse of perseverance and self-regulation and underuse of judgment and perspective to create an imbalance that leads to her downfall." - Ryan Niemiec

Uplifting Films by Elliot Landy, a well-known photographer whose images of Woodstock and sixties music personalities such as Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix are recognised worldwide.

"The film shows that love and communication are more powerful in getting what you want than violence and intimidation, that you should believe in your ideas, even if no one else does, and has lots of other positive messages for kids and adults alike." - Elliott Landy of

Here’s a list of movies to help you reflect on finding your calling in life.

Reel Therapy – Meaningful thoughts on meaningful movies

Positive Psychology at the Movies

Movies on Integrity

The American Film Institute’s 100 Most Inspiring Films of All Time.


Enjoy these movies with family and friends, in schools, community and grassroots organisations, companies and religious organisations etc.

(PS: I’ve learnt the importance of respecting intellectual property over time. If you are watching/screening movies outside of your home, you need a licence in Singapore. You can apply for licences from the Motion Picture Licencing Company (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. You may also need other approval from authorities.)

Video: Following Your Heart


How can you parent from faith rather than fear? Illustration by Sara Chong of


Anila Angin’s “Mother and Child on Following Your Heart” is the kind of conversation I wish more parents had with their children.

Are you living the questions in your life and allowing others to as well?

To enjoy more of Anila’s work, log on to Scribbles for the Soul

Video: Greatest Love of All

Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All is probably one of the psychologically healthiest and wisest songs I have heard.  

And a great reminder on Valentine’s Day. A reminder that the most important relationship in life is the one with ourselves. I’ve learnt that if that’s strong, positive and affirming, then relationships with others are more likely to be.  

How is your relationship with yourself? Do you know how to love yourself?

Related: Love Story – With Yourself

Links – Positive Publications



I have created a list of recommended books on the Joy Works website. I also encourage adults to read picture books. Although they are profoundly simple, they can be simply profound too.

30 good minutes – This is more than a publication, and has video clips too – all food for the soul. – a Singapore-based newspaper that supports greater awareness and action on making a difference.

International Journal of Wellbeing aims to “promote interdisciplinary research on wellbeing”.

The Intelligent Optimist – “the online community for intelligent optimists”

Oprah“Live your best life”

Positive Psychology News Daily“provides the latest news about happiness, the “science of happiness,” and positive psychology. Our goal is to be your fun, collaborative place for a research-based daily boost of happiness.” “is a positivity blog. Everything you find here has personally been chosen to make you happy and inspire you. As time has progressed, the blog has also become a record of our journey as we work together to create a more just and sustainable world.”

Utne“independent ideas and alternative culture. Not right, not left, but forward thinking”

yes! magazine“reframes biggest problems of our times in terms of their solutions…we outline a path forward with in-depth analysis, tools for citizen engagement, and stories about real people working for a better world.”

Huffpost Good News

Click the “Have you read…” section.

Do you know others? Let me know at vadivu[at]

How Can We Celebrate Love Everyday?

In the animation, “Danny and Annie”, Danny says of his wife of 27 years: …she lights up my life when she says to me at night, “Wouldn’t you like some ice-cream?” or “Would you please drink more water?”…those aren’t very romantic things to say but they start my heart…

How can we express and celebrate love when Valentine’s day is over?

Communicating compassionately and mindfully. Forgiving. Being vulnerable.  Providing a safe space for the other to share. Being thoughtful of their needs, preferences when we buy things for them. Caring about their health and well-being.  Seeing their flaws and still loving them anyway. Appreciating. Apologising. Celebrating achievements. Sharing chores. Paying attention to what’s new with our partners. Saying “no” to an extra hour at work or bringing home too much work. Doing errands. Dealing with difficulties instead of burying them. Touching to express care. Hugging. Saying “I love you” in the language of love your partner prefers. Listening deeply to how the day went. Listening for underlying feelings and  needs. Going for walks together. Organising surprises. Loving ourselves. Making time for our partners when there is “no time”. Praying/meditating together. Talking about things that matter. Doing fun things together. Writing a love letter. Doing what we love so we’re happy, encouraging our partners to do the same. Supporting our partner’s dreams and life purpose, and where dreams have been abandoned, helping them bring them back to life. Being truthful mirrors to each other. Speaking the truth with love. Growing together to become better people, better parents, better partners, better children, better community citizens, better bosses, better devotees of our spiritual paths. Being involved in a higher purpose of serving others better.

Celebrating love on Valentine’s day and less so during the other 364 days every year is robbing ourselves of much more love that we can access and enjoy. The best gift is less likely to be the rose or expensive gift but your quality time, attention and yourself.

How do you keep your love alive outside Valentine’s day?


Resources: has excellent articles – By psychologists, Basha and Jeff Kaplan. Their book “SoulMating for Singles: The Journey from Dating to Life Partnership” will be out in January 2012.  Basha Kaplan, together with Gail Prince, wrote a seminal book, “Soul Dating to Soul Mating”.

Joyce and Barry Vissell’s articles on developing a healthy relationship. They have a powerful book, “The Heart’s Wisdom”. (Have recommended to National Library Board to procure. Will update when I hear back.) 

Imago’s “Conflict to Connection” DVD on how to resolve conflicts. (Have recommended to National Library Board to procure. Will update once I hear back.)

Soul Dating to Soul Mating by Kaplan and Prince is hard to get but exceptional for both singles and couples. Have asked national library Board when the item will become available.

Go to and type in “relationships” in the search button.

Love Story: With Yourself

Why didn’t they teach this in school? It’s such an important lesson and most of us have to learn it the hard way. I spent alot of my life helping others but didn’t really know how to love myself. I am learning how to do this now, thankfully, though not perfectly…

So what does lack of self-love look like?

Some examples – Habitual neglect of one’s own wellbeing whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual  sometimes at the expense of doing alot for others or even emotionally taking on others’ responsibilities.   Habitually not being able to say “no” or draw boundaries around one’s time.   Habitually being highly self-critical and beating oneself up for not being good enough or making mistakes. Habitually seeking external approval. Habitually doing self-destructive things. Don’t feel whole when not in a romantic relationship (even if it’s an unhealthy relationship). Feeling bad about our bodies or parts of them!

Slimming ad. We need antidotes to such messages that surround us everyday. What's your antidote?

Recognise anything here? We develop such thinking from our upbringing, the media, societal pressures and even people close to us who focus on our flaws.

What’s the importance of self love and what does it look like?

Not comparing yourself to others is an act of self-love
Forgiving yourself and learning from your mistakes is an act of self-love.

Here are some excerpts from a wonderful book, “Soul Dating to Soul Mating” by Basha Kaplan and Gail Prince:

“..our primary relationship is not with a beloved but with ourselves. Understanding that we cannot  love another first loving ourselves is the foundation of any healthy relationship…”

How well do you meet your deepest needs?

“Most of us felt and still feel that we have to earn love and that we are only lovable if we meet certain standards. In response to this, some of us become overachievers, afraid to stop striving for fear we won’t be admired or loved. Others stop trying altogether, stating, “Why even try, I won’t be successful anyway.” If our parents, who loved and wanted the best for us, were judgmental and critical, what can we expect of others? We must learn that a healthy relationship involves accepting, encouraging and understanding, not judgement and power struggles.”

“Loving ourselves is forgiving ourselves for being human. It is accepting that humans cannot be perfect. Loving ourselves means striving for excellence on the path of “becoming the best possible me.”It is knowing that, within realistic limits, we can accomplish anything.”

“Embracing the attitude that we are here to grow, learn lessons and accept our humanity can greatly help us on this journey to find self-love and commitment.”


Learning to say "no" to that which doesn't serve your highest interests is an act of self-love. What would be an example of this in your life?


Rest is an act of self-love.
Stopping self-destructive behaviour is an act of self-love.

What are three ways in which you can practise more self-love? Who can support you best as you strive towards this? What’s the main obstacle to you loving yourself? And how can you overcome this?

Find out more about how to Love Yourself

Dr Robin Smith on self-love (audio)

Your Trump Card: Self Love in Psychology Today

Self-love on Valentine’s Day

See the part on self-forgiveness in my post on forgiveness


Various articles on self love, including the difference between self-love and narcissm and steps towards self love by a self-love coach, Sarah Elizabeth Malinak. (Click on self-love section.)


Go to and key in “love yourself” in the search button and enjoy the many great resources there.

Video: Love Story of Danny and Annie

It’s approaching Valentine’s day and I’d like to share a touching animation clip of Danny and Annie’s love story.  

Danny wrote his wife a love letter every day…and says some wise things about loving his wife of over 27 years….

“We try to give each other hope…”

“The only thing I have to give to you is a poor gift and it is myself and I give it…”

…she lights up my life when she says to me at night, “Wouldn’t you like some ice-cream?” or “Would you please drink more water?”…those aren’t very romantic things to say but they start my heart…

More than that rose or expensive gift on Valentine’s day, how can we show our love daily to people we love?

PS: Danny’s a horse-betting clerk and Annie’s a nurse…and they have much to teach us…the service people who surround us…the waiters, the construction workers, the nurses, the taxi drivers, the salespeople….also have love stories, like we do. … and lessons to teach us…..if we care and are humble enough to listen… 


Thanks to my former professor, Barbara Becker of Equal Shot for introducing Storycorps (which  recorded Danny and Annie’s story) to my “Communications and Social Change” class. She’s helped me understand the power of story-telling.

What’s the most powerful letter in the alphabet?



Because it changes things around it.

Being a vowel, it changes the pronunciation of “the” into “thee” so 

“the raging pig”


“the (pronounced “thee”) understanding pig”.

But what makes “U” so powerful for me is what it does to “Q”. I mean “Q” cannot even make a word without U! Without “U”, we would lose wonderful words like “quality”, “quintessential” and “quiet”…

“U” is a catalyst. It transforms things around it. It makes things come alive. It makes good things happen. There’s only one thing I don’t admire about “U”. A catalyst doesn’t change while changing others. I would prefer one that does.

Are U a catalyst?

Or better still, an aberrant catalyst that transforms others by transforming itself? :)

Links – Organisations and Individuals

Happiness and Positive Psychology – General

Action for Happiness is about “encouraging the shift to a happier society”.

Greater Good Science Center “studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society”. Has a special focus on raising joyful children and happy parenting.

The Happiness Institute “With the aim of teaching as many people as possible to be happier, The Happiness Institute offers a range of services based on extensive research, particularly from the growing field of positive psychology.”

The Happiness Project is the memoir of the year Gretchen Rubin “spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier”.

Professor Martin Seligman’s work – Founder of positive psychology which is “a new branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions”.

Happiness, Positive Psychology and Clinic Psychology Sites by The Happiness Institute

Happiness at Work

Joy Works is a Singapore-based consultancy that specialises in workplace happiness.

The GoodWork Project “is a large scale effort to identify individuals and institutions that exemplify good work – work that is excellent in quality, socially responsible, and meaningful to its practitioners – and to determine how best to increase the incidence of good work in our society.

Communication, Conflict Resolution and Relationships

Bay Area Nonviolent Communication has lots of great educational resources.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication – “a global organization that supports the learning and sharing of NVC, and helps people peacefully and effectively resolve conflicts in personal, organizational, and political settings”.

Imago Relationships International aims to “transform relationships in the world. We teach key insights into how relationships work and the effective use of dialogue skills, both directly and in partnership with others”.

The Shared Heart Foundation is “a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing love and consciousness to all relationships”.

Virtues and Values, including Compassion and Kindness

Dr Brene Brown ‘s work on authenticity, vulnerability, shame and courage.

The Center for Courage and Renewal nurtures “personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it”.

The Charter for Compassionis a document that transcends religious, ideological, and national difference. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter calls on us all to activate the Golden Rule around the world”.

The Fetzer Institute “advances love and forgiveness as powerful forces that can transform the human condition”.

The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love “focuses on the science and spirituality of the unselfish love that shapes the lives of people who find energy and joy in the compassionate service of others”.

Dr Kristin Neff’s website “provides information about self-compassion, and is intended for students, researchers, and the general public”.

Singapore Kindness Movement“wants to encourage everyone to start, show and share kindness”.

The VIA Institute on Character “advances the science and practice of character development. VIA provides the free VIA Survey and other assessments designed to help all people live their best lives”.

The Virtues Project is “a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life”.

Transformation, Contemplative Practices

The Center for Contemplatice Mind in Societyworks to integrate contemplative awareness into contemporary life in order to help create a more just, compassionate, reflective, and sustainable society”.

The Institute of Noetic Sciences is a“nonprofit research, education, and membership organization whose mission is supporting individual and collective transformation through consciousness research, educational outreach, and engaging a global learning community in the realization of our human potential”.

Others (Sometimes we tend to gloss over the “other” category but this list has gems…)

Organisations Working on Social and Emotional Wellbeing – A list by the Greater Good Science Center

A mention on this page is not an automatic endorsement of anyone, any organisation or any product, unless expressly stated. This will be updated as and when I discover something good. So keep checking back!

Places: Singapore Quarry

If you want a gentle walk, nearby places to get good food, a peek at some of our wildlife and a really beautiful view of a disused quarry, head over to Singapore Quarry, near Rail Mall.

Beauty, far from the maddening crowds
This was quite a sight! White-bellied sea eagle, carrying a branch. Building a nest?
How wonderful it would be if we looked at some of our human migrants and migrant workers with the same fascination and interest we extend to migrating birds...
Can you spot the White-throated Kingfisher? He sat still for a pretty long time. I joined him and sat and closed my eyes for a while. Nature can be very healing...
This was the one thing that concerned me there. Koi (and other) fish released by members of the public. This endangeres our eco-system.
The road less travelled holds surprising views and treasures...are you enjoying where your road is taking you?

After the walk, friends and I walked over to Sunny Choice at Rail Mall for a lovely organic vegetarian meal.

Don't recall what I ate but it was yummy!
Organic Tahu Goreng

Sunny Choice is at 434 Upper Bukit Timah, Rail Mall. Tel: 6892-2383. They also sell healthy snacks and other sundries.

To get to Singapore Quarry, park at Rail Mall, walk towards Jln Asas and look for the signages.