For one of our MAPP final papers, we were asked to come up with a list of bits and pieces of insight, those “eureka moments of comprehension” we´ve had over the two semesters at Penn. I´d like to share those with you as a kind of “MAPP in a nutshell”. As I like to tie knowledge to those teachers that are “responsible” for my comprehension, I will present them to you in that way. Therefore, I´ve created a list of (to my knowledge) all the persons that have taught in MAPP 9 at one point or the other, and will name those that have provided me with an especially memorable insight. Those perceptions do encompass theoretical insights from positive psychology, its real-world application (or its contribution to real-world application of other psychological concepts), or style of (teaching) delivery…
Roy Baumeister: Bad is stronger than good (precisely: bad events and emotions create a stronger and longer-lasting impact on our brains). Therefore, we need to purposefully create more positive events and emotions in our lives to counterbalance this one-sidedness (with a tip to the hat to John Gottman…).
Dan Bowling: Everything that can be done can also be done with style. It makes the world a brighter place.
Art Carey: Has shown me how important the process of writing is for my own life – and that part of my future career should consist of getting paid for being a “wielder of words”.
David Cooperrider: Words create worlds. Accordingly, positive words will create (mostly) positive worlds – whereas negative words will create (mostly) negative worlds. So use your words wisely, especially your questions – as they tend to create the worlds within other people´s minds.
Angela Duckworth/Peggy Kern: Woohoo! Learning (and teaching…) statistics can be fun. Go figure…
Jane Dutton: High-Quality Connections (HQC) are the high-octane fuel of every organization. Suspend your judgment and try to walk a mile in your fellow men´s shoes before coming to any conclusion. Build trust via giving open, positive feedback – if possible, on a daily basis.
Chris Feudtner: Keeping an open heart while working in dark places (e.g. palliative care units for children) can grant you an enormous “aura” and tangible “clarity of the mind”. When there´s nothing left, there can still be hope. What do we hope for – when there´s no other option left but hope?
Barbara Fredrickson: Positive emotions are not a trifle. They are essential building blocks for our well-being and should be fostered actively.
Adam Grant: It is
more blessed smarter to give than to receive. Being altruistic does not turn you into a doormat. It can lead to success, even in competitive corporate environments.
Jonathan Haidt: 1) There are no good reasons (at least not good enough) to be pessimistic about the fate of mankind. Judged by most empirical indicators, it´s not foolish to say that we are on an “upwards trajectory”: things are bound to get better. On that note, I would also like to thank my classmate David Nevill for giving me the sentence “We never have enough data to be pessimistic.” It continues to inspire me, even on a sort of metaphysical level. 2) Look to the extreme ends of the (positive) emotional continuum, e.g., to emotions such as awe and elevation. They may be powerful change catalysts.
Emilia Lahti: You have tons of soul mates somewhere out there. They may live at the other end of the world. But eventually, some of them will find you (especially if you start a blog, that is…)
Ellen Langer: Everything that can be done is worth being done mindful. It leads to better results and more satisfaction. Plus: Don´t fear getting old.
Daniel Lerner: Everything that can be done can also be done with “an eye for excellence”. It pushes the boundaries of human achievement.
Chris Major: A man with a true purpose is (almost) unstoppable.
Ryan Niemiec: 1) Strengths matter more than frailties. They are the key to our “true self” and the building blocks on our road to (work and life) satisfaction. 2) A movie is never “just a movie”. It´s a lesson on character strengths.
Off the Beat: Singing is life!
Ken Pargament: Even atheists value the “sacred moments” in their lives. Find them, cultivate them, and cherish them. They are valuable.
James Pawelski: 1) Trust the process. 2) It´s always valuable not to be the smartest person in the room. 3) Know which giants´ shoulders you are standing on. 4) There is nothing more practical than a good theory (and a proper definition). 5) Know the limits of your knowledge. 6) Positive psychology is grounded in meliorism (the belief that people/things can improve/be better than they are today). 7) You can be a proper scientist and nevertheless enjoy Tony Robbins.
Isaac Prilleltensky: Fairness on the community and societal level influences our individual well-being. Countries with developed democracies, a high degree of personal freedom, generous social security systems and relatively small gaps between top earners and “normal” workers are the happiest (on average)
John Ratey/Tom Rath: Move your ASS! Your brain will appreciate it.
Ann Roepke: Our life is a narrative and as such, we do have tremendous power over it by actively re-writing or pre-writing the storylines.
Esa Saarinen: Don´t hold back. Create systems of generosity. Err on the giving side. Embrace your inner (and outer!) “weird”.
Barry Schwartz: 1) Most times, “good” is “good enough”. 2) Purposefully limit the choices you have to make in life. E.g., choose not to choose by setting defaults and creating habits.
Martin Seligman: Think and dream big.
Daniel Tomasulo: Everything that can be done can also be done with a twinkle in the eye. Makes hard work feel “easy”.
Amy Wrzesniewski: Purpose and meaning (at work) are the result of finding work that integrates your strengths, passions, and values. The calling comes from within. Other people matter (at work, too).
I am deeply thankful to all of you!
P.S. Thanks to my classmate Linda Rufer for designing those MAPP 9 superhero medals. The backside says I was voted “most mappalicious” person in our cohort. Whatever that means at the end of the day… 🙂