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.
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?
Facebook 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 am more open to share the way I love and the way this brings vulnerability into my life.
- I am more open to accept and even embrace the other-ness of others, and at the same time, less open to accept those that try to subdue the diversity in all of our lives.
- I am more open to positive leadership approaches, trying to manage the (positive) energy of my team, and to foster self-determination – instead of relying on “command & control”.
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.
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“…
Picture source: Haufe Gruppe
Today is a bank holiday in Germany, so unlike most workdays, I sat down to have an unhurried breakfast with my wife and the Little Guru. Towards the end, they played my wife´s favorite song on the radio, so she got up, went from the dining room into the living room and started to dance playfully. Of course, the Little Guru wanted to join in.
Ten seconds later, they were holding hands and jumping around in circles, laughing and shouting boisterously. All of that time, the bright morning sun entered the room through our large garden windows, lighting up their faces, giving them an almost angelic complexion.
I watched them for a minute or so – and that´s when I cried again. I am lucky.
Happy Father´s Day to all of you!
- Brett Steenbarger regularly writes on Forbes about the psychology of stock trading and manages to sneak in little gems of Positive Psychology very frequently.
- Jessica Amortegui is a management coach and was in my Penn MAPP class. She covers the use of Positive Psychology in business on Fast Company.
- Emily Esfahani Smith was an assistant instructor in my Penn MAPP class. She´s a full-time journalist/writer and publishes beautifully crafted, Positive Psychology-influenced pieces via The Atlantic (among other media outlets).
- Dan Bowling also was an assistant instructor in my Penn MAPP class. In his former life, he was the SVP of Human Resources at Coca-Cola. He frequently publishes pieces on talent management seen through the lens of Positive Psychology.
- Emma Seppälä is the Associate Director of Stanford´s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) and runs the website Fulfillment Daily – but also publishes regularly on Psychology Today and the Harvard Business Review, mostly on the benefits of mindfulness and compassion.
- Todd Kashdan is a professor of psychology at George Mason University. His work was featured in The New York Times and Washington Post, among other news outlets. He regularly blogs for Psychology Today on a wide range of Positive Psychology topics.
- Shelley Prevost is, among other things, partner at a venture capital firm. She writes Positive Psychology-influenced pieces on the workplace for Inc.
- Oliver Burkeman is a British journalist and author who frequently covers Positive Psychology topics for The Guardian.
- Giovanni Rodriguez also writes for Forbes, on a wide array of topics, oftentimes on the intersection of Positive Psychology and tech.
- Drake Baer writes for Business Insider, covering, among other things, self-help and personal success topics. He often cites Positive Psychology research in his articles.
CNN runs a series of articles by the name of Project Happy.
If you know any other interesting writers that regularly publish Positive Psychology stuff on big news outlets (not their own blogs), please leave a comment below this article.