Ralph Waldo Emerson on Success in Life

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.

Man and Dog at DawnSorry, Positive Psychologists. It´s all been said and done before… 😉

Are you short on Willpower and Self-Regulation? These Apps can help You…

Good Habit MakerIf you are like most people, willpower and self-regulation may not exactly be among your top strengths. E.g., for most of us, self-regulation is located pretty close to the bottom of the list when filling in the VIA questionnaire on 24 character strengths – which is based on Seligman´s and Peterson´s book Character Strengths and Virtues.

But then, breaking or making habits is one of the most important tasks when trying to succeed at a personal change project. So lo and behold! There´s help on the way. In earlier days, people would tie a knot in their handkerchiefs to help them remember things. These days, people don´t use handkerchiefs that much – but most of us do have a smartphone (or two…). And of course, there´s lots of apps around that strive on the fact that our spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Balanced AppHere, I´d like to introduce you to three app that I´ve started using at the onset of the year:

On New Year´s Eve, I´ve decided I´d like to become a “nicer” person this year. It´s not that I´m an asshole right now – I just thought I could put a little extra effort in it. Probably a “side effect” of being in the MAPP program…

OK. The Good Habit Maker is a nice little (free) app that does only one thing: at pre-selected intervals over the day, it’ll push one sentence to your smartphone´s screen, e.g. your personal change mantra. Helps a lot to bring your mind back to what you want to achieve during busy schedules.

Grid Diary AppThe app Balanced is a little more refined, it´s a sort of task manager. You can enter specific tasks that you want to accomplish, and the quantities/intervals you intend to fulfill (e.g., “watch a TED talk once a week”). The app will then continuously remind you to complete those tasks until they are done. It also keeps track of you levels of completion and timeliness. There´s a demo version that is limited to a small number of tasks – the full version comes at $ 2.99.

And finally, the Grid Diary: as the name suggests, it´s a nice and clean diary app. The useful twist: you can pre-select (or enter your own…) specific questions. So instead of having to think about what to write each and every evening, the app will make you respond to the prompts that you specifically chose to be given. By way of example, I use it as a gratitude journal, which is one of the pre-eminent interventions in Positive Psychology. It´s free but offers some in-app purchases.

Enjoy! Keep it going! And for some extra energy, power up your Sisu!

This is the Good Life now: Writing about Positive Psychology on the first Day of Spring

I just wanted to share this beautiful photo with you. While I write these words, I´m sitting in front of my favorite café in my German hometown, I have a day off – and was asked to write an article on Positive Psychology for the premier HR and Coaching practitioner magazine. It´s the first day of 2014 that really feels like spring – no need to wear a jacket in the early afternoon sun. And, very appropriately, iPod shuffle mode chose to play me the song you´ll find below the picture…

Coffee in the Sun

The Good Life – Farmer Boys

All you do
All you’ve been through
Has put you where you are today

All you do
Is a photograph of you
Now do you like what’s in the picture?

The time is now
There’s no time for waiting around
You get one shot, don’t run for cover
Until it’s over

This is the good life now
This is the high life now
I can see with my own eyes
That it’s a good, good life

The things you say
Day after day
Make all the difference in the world

The things you hate
Might never go away
But they can’t win if you don’t let them

The time is now
There’s no time for hanging around
This your chance, take it with no doubt
And don’t let go, now

This is the good life now
This is the high life now
I can see with my own eyes
That it’s a good, good life

Positive Psychology Researcher Todd Kashdan´s 5 Tips to becoming a “killer” Scientist

Todd Kashdan is Associate Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. He conducts research on anxiety, positive emotions, purpose in life, mindfulness, gratitude, how personal strengths operate in everyday life, social relationships, self-regulation, and how to foster and sustain happiness and meaning in life.

Via Psychology Today, he published his recipe for becoming a “killer scientist”. It´s a great piece to read. Here, you´ll find the short version:

Let passions and curiosity be your compass

Don’t look at public opinion polls about what people are studying. Focus on activities that ignite your passion. Don’t study areas because they are hot and sexy. Ask questions that ignite your passion.

Impact is Everything

It is more impactful to get your work featured in an article in Parade magazine than the top journal in your field. Hang around scientists who understand this principle.

Be James Bond (impact part II)

Show your stuff in a way that can be understood by teenagers. Think like a human. Be an exceptional presenter. How? Concrete. Sticky. Stories.

Create Strong Partnerships

Retain people that ensure you stay humble. Be generous by always giving more than you take. Complementarity is righteous.

Create Meaningful Time

Think of work in 15-minute intervals. It´s not complicated. Discipline slowly accumulates into major accomplishments.

Also, you might want to watch his TEDx talk on “Becoming a mad scientist with your life”:

What makes Life meaningful? 3 Answers for You…

My Direction

One of the letters in Martin Seligman´s PERMA outline of Positive Psychology is M for Meaning (in life). In this post, I would like to point you to three outstanding resources on that topic:

First, check out Maria Popova´s fabulous Brain Pickings site – in this case her essay on Viktor Frankl´s Logotherapy and his conception of meaning in life.

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

Second, you might want to have a look at Michael Steger´s TEDx talk – where he explains why and how meaning in life can be a matter of life an death; and what role relationships play in that piece.

And third, here´s a link to a website I discovered recently which contains a psychological test that can help you to find your personal “purpose pattern” (at work). It was created by a team around Aaron Hurst, author of The Purpose Economy. I found that some familiar MAPP faces are also associated with that project, namely “Chief Giving Officer” Adam Grant, and Job Crafting Authority Amy Wrzesniewski.

Enjoy!