Study Alert: The Positive Psychology of Cat Content

Mappalicious - Cat ContentI knew it! I kneeeeew it!!! If millions and millions of people do something, there must be a good reason. Even if those people don’t know exactly why they are doing it.

Do you fancy watching cat content on the Internet? I do. Well, I have two real cats myself, but still Iindulge in a feline YouTube spree at least once a week. Makes me smile, makes me happy. Love it…

Researchers at Indiana University now surveyed some 7.000 people on their behavior of watching cat content online. Here’s what they found (excerpts taken from the study report on the University’s homepage):

  • They were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before.
  • They had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.
  • They often view Internet cats at work or during studying.
  • The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.

That’s it! Cat content = happiness. For those that now go “Duh…” because they already knew this: At least, now we have science on our side…

Study Alert: The Smell of Happiness 

If you are somewhat like me, you don’t really fancy smelling other people’s sweat. But if – for whatever reason – life puts you in a situation where you have to: Make sure it’s the sweat of happy people. Why?

Because it just might make you happy (at least: happier), too. A recent study titled A Sniff of Happiness finds that people who are exposed to the body odors of happy people tend to show increasing signs of happiness themselves, e.g., they smile more compared to the time before that “exposure”.

In the words of the researchers:

We observed that exposure to body odor collected from senders of chemosignals in a happy state induced a facial expression and perceptual-processing style indicative of happiness in the receivers of those signals. Our findings suggest that not only negative affect but also a positive state (happiness) can be transferred by means of odors.

So if you are a happy person: Please throw away that antiperspirant. Make the world a more joyful place… ;-)

This is what Thomas A. Edison wrote about the Doctor of the Future in 1903

Thomas A. Edison seems to be an endless source of witty quotes and quotable wisdom. I stumbled upon this one some days ago. Transfer his words from medicine to psychology (which practically did not exist at that time) and you get a near-perfect description of what Positive Psychology tries to accomplish in the realm of mental and emotional well-being.

Edison - Doctor of the Future
When I look at how often stuff like Prozac and Ritalin is given to people, there obviously is still a long way to go for us. But it will be done…

I´ve got 99 Words for Happiness, but the Germans only have One

In earlier posts, I´ve shared with you my personal feeling that Positive Psychology and the German language seem to be a bit of a mismatch, as my mother tongue is impoverished with respect to words describing positive experiences and states of being. Later on, I shared a study that is able to demonstrate that some languages are indeed happier than others – in that they are able to “hold” more positivity.

Today, I stumbled upon another piece of evidence pertaining to that matter. Below, you´ll see screenshots of the two most important translation websites in Germany. On the left, you can see the English words, a wide array positive states (of mind). On the right, the German translations are displayed. As you can see, all those English words are translated into the same German expression: Glück.

If Wittgenstein was right, and “The limits of my language means the limits of my world”, then having only a single word for what really should be a wide spectrum of words (corresponding to a wide spectrum of feelings) can be likened to being color-blind. It´s an impaired state of perception, or at least an impaired ability to convey one´s perceptions. And what good are emotions if they cannot be accurately named and shared?

Glueck - Luck

Glueck - Luck

Positive Psychology has Changed the Way I Live, Lead, and Love

Martin Seligman & Nico RoseFacebook has been gentle enough to remind of the fact that my graduation from Penn took place a year ago. If you´d like to know what were my take-aways right at the end of the MAPP program, please read this post: My Mind´s MAP(P).

Looking back with a bit of temporal, spatial, and mental distance, I am able to say that this experience has changed my life in basically all of its important facets. I am not going to tell that I am a “totally different person” or something like that – because it´s not true. But my deep-dive into Positive Psychology has transformed – to some extent – the way I live, lead and love on a very tangible level. I just do some things differently by being more open.

I hope to continue on this path of increasing openness – and I hope I can continue sharing my experience and knowledge with you… 
Penn Graduation 2014  

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

I stumbled upon this quote yesterday and it struck me as very powerful. It beautifully conveys one of the central tenets of Positive Psychology (strengths-orientation and looking at “what´s right”) – and at the same time it could be a sort of “battle cry” for the Positive Education movement.

Strong_Children

In Memory of Chris Peterson…

Unfortunately, I never had a chance to meet Chris Peterson in person. He died before I entered the MAPP program at Penn. But everyone I meet who knew him speaks very highly of him, highlighting his good nature and humor. I guess it comes alive again in his writing.

And it makes me (sort of) proud, that, while speaking about Positive Psychology at a conference in Munich some days ago, the photographer took a shot right in the moment where I talked about Chris Peterson´s signature line “Other People Matter“…

Dr. Nico Rose - Other People Matter

Picture source: Haufe Gruppe