10 brilliant Quotes, Adages, and short Poems related to Positive Psychology

Over the last years, I´ve collected countless quotes, sayings, short poems and similar inspirational stuff that (to my mind) is related to Positive Psychology. Here are my top-10 for the time being. Enjoy!

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
(Frederick Douglass)

Be yourself. No one can say you´re doing it wrong.
(Charles M. Schulz)

Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.
(Abraham Lincoln, among others)

Your brain is not designed to make you happy. That´s your job.
(Tony Robbins)

People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.

Be you! The world will adjust.

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
(Carlos Castaneda)

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
(Herm Albright)

To laugh often and much: To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
(Dawna Markova)

Be Yourself - Schulz

More awesome TED Talks on Positive Psychology

For those of you that can’t get enough of Positive Psychology-related TED talks – I’ve found some (more or less) new stuff for you. This list comprises Lea Waters, who focuses on the application of Positive Psychology in the field of education, James Doty, founder of Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), Rick Hanson, one of the world’s foremost authorities on meditation and compassion, and Shane Lopez, who specializes in research on hope.

As a bonus, here’s an introductory talk on Positive Psychology in German I gave at a BarCamp in Hamburg three weeks ago. It was first streamed via the app Periscope so it’s a vertical video. Enjoy!

12 + 1 Articles on Positive Education (including links to PDFs)

Positive EducationI´m very happy to announce that recently, I have become an IPEN Global Representative. IPEN (International Positive Education Network) is an initiative to “bring together teachers, parents, academics, students, schools, colleges, universities, charities, companies and governments to promote positive education.” The group of Global Representatives volunteers to help IPEN to “spread the word” on Positive Education (in their respective countries of origin).

To start, I´ve compiled a list of 12 eminent research articles on Positive Education, the links will lead to the respective PDFs. Enjoy!


German Workforce is especially stressed out. One more reason to bring Positive Psychology to Deutschland

Stress - Germans - ADPThe European branch of HR consulting firm ADP has surveyed some 11,000 employees across eight countries of the continent (link to press release). One of the striking results:

Despite (Or maybe: Due to?) a distinctly flourishing economy which displays an unemployment level at its lowest since the time before the reunification, Germany’s workforce seems to be utterly stressed out. 50% of workers report they are “frequently stressed” at work. That puts us in second place behind the Polish. On the other end of the continuum, stress levels are the lowest in the Netherlands*. Now what is happening here? Are my fellow countrymen really all that stressed? Or is just more accepted, or even en vogue, to report that one is stressed out?

Because the funny thing is: Several other studies show that Germans work considerably less hours per year compared to almost any other nation. Most of us can take between 24 and 30 days of vacation, there’s countless bank holidays – and working hours are pretty acceptable on average (see some more details here). So, by any means, this should be a workers’ paradise. Still, 50% heavily complain about the status quo.

My guess: it’s a question of mindsets, of attention, and focus. I’ve already written several posts on how German culture has an inclination towards “loving the negative”, and how we are overly anxious on average (e.g., how German lacks some positive words; or how studying Positive Psychology to me seemed like a course in being Un-German). Feeling overly stressed at work when we really live in a sort of land of milk and honey seems like a relative of “German Angst” or “Weltschmerz”.

But beware, my fellow countrymen: Positive Psychology will definitely come to a place somewhere near you. Even if I have to do it all by myself…


*According to the cliché, that must be because of all that dope they smoke over there…

Do you want to become a UPenn Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP)? This way, please…

Right now, the 11. cohort of Penn´s MAPP program is well on its way. I was in cohort No. 9 (here you can find a summary of my experiences over the two semesters in 2013/14). Our alumni association asked us to pass on this information to potential students:

1) There will be a live information session in Penn´s Huntsman Hall on November 5. For more info and registration:


2) There will be a virtual information session on December 3. For more info and registration:


3) You can now apply! Deadline is March 1, 2016. Info on the application requirements can be found here:


Nico Rose - Penn Commencement

A Stitch in Time saves Nine! What Psychologists could say about #DieselGate…

Let me start by saying that I don’t want to point any fingers here. I´m pretty sure cheating (as well as being altruistic!) is part of human nature. Each and everyone of us lies and cheats once in a while…

Mostly, it´s the larger-than-life cases that grab our attention. We have our Lance Armstrongs in sports, the Diederik Stapels in (psychological) sciences, the Milli Vanillis in music, and of course a long list of fraudulences and scandals in business, starting with the 15th century Medici Bank, all the way up to the Enrons of our time – and now VW´s DieselGate.

As usual, when looking at a phenomenon such as this, I´m trying to take on the perspective of an (organizational) psychologist. While searching for Positive Psychology studies to write about, I stumbled upon this article – I think it has something to say on what happened at Germany´s largest car manufacturer:

Welsh, D. T., Ordóñez, L. D., Snyder, D. G., & Christian, M. S. (2015). The slippery slope: How small ethical transgressions pave the way for larger future transgressions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(1), 114-127.

All people are “good” – but beware of the “slippery slope”…

The authors argue that larger frauds typically start out as minor transgressions – which exacerbate over time when not properly prevented early on.

In this article, we argue that committing small indiscretions over time may gradually lead people to commit larger unethical acts that they otherwise would have judged to be impermissible. We refer to this phenomenon as the slippery slope of unethical behavior.

While this idea per se can be considered common sense, the researchers provide compelling empirical evidence for the existence of this phenomenon.

Although there are many anecdotes about the slippery slope in the business world, our results provide the first empirical evidence that we are aware of regarding susceptibility to increased unethical behavior over time […]. Exposure to slippery-slope conditions more than doubled the rates of unethical behavior in our studies.

Via a series of laboratory and online experiments, they are able to demonstrate that

the slippery-slope effect increases unethical behavior through the mediating mechanism of moral disengagement and that this effect can be attenuated by inducing a prevention focus.

When talking about the managerial implications of their research, Welsh et al. conclude:

Managers may want to consider whether their organization possesses a strong ethical culture in which misconduct is clearly defined and even small deviations are quickly addressed. Those who notice and address questionable employee conduct may be able to reduce the likelihood that minor indiscretions will escalate over time. Addressing minor instances of unethical behavior by a particular employee may also help curb the unethical behaviors of other employees.


managers may want to frame ethics-related tasks so as to encourage a prevention focus when employees are completing them. For example, more ethical behavior may result over time when employees are encouraged to be vigilant in identifying financial mistakes rather than creative in attempting to find new financial loopholes. Setting and maintaining an ethical status quo represent an important way in which employees may be prevented from starting down the slippery slope even in situations in which they might feel justified in doing so.

The tl;dr version of this article:

A stitch in time saves nine!