This is the One Quality you Need to Be Successful in Life

Well, at first I wanted to write: Don’t fall for click-baiting headlines, but that’s not the whole secret (though it’s certainly a small fraction of it). What I´d like to say is:

Don´t believe in easy solutions, or, to quote Lt. Aldo Raine from Inglorious Basterds:

Long story short, we hear a story too good to be true – it ain’t.

Most things in life – at least those that are worthwhile pursuing – require a lot of guts, smarts, and plain hard work. That certainly goes for:

  • building a successful company;
  • becoming a star in sports or music;
  • writing a bestseller;

but also for more mundane issues such as:

  • leading a functional long-term relationship;
  • raising healthy and pleasant kids;
  • coming to terms with your own flaws.

Yes, there are things that just work faster or better. But these “life hacks” are, without exception, just tiny pieces of a very large puzzle. Those people who sell easy solutions try to tell you that, by putting together two or three puzzle pieces, you´ve solved the whole thing.

Sorry folks, not true – unless your life equals the complexity of a puzzle made for a two-year-old.

Nico Rose - Penn Commencement

What Voltaire knew about Health and Happiness

So, eminent French philosopher Voltaire died about 230 years ago – but obviously, he had some intuitive insights into what psychological science would find out over the later part of the 20th century: namely, that happiness is not (only) and end in itself, but also a doorway to further human objectives, such as creativity, success, and a long and healthy life

Voltaire_Happiness

 

On TED: The Hidden Influence of Social Networks (on Happiness and much more)

In this TED talk, Nicholas Christakis (nowadays professor at Yale) shares his fascinating research on the influence of the people surround us (and the influence of those that surround those that surround us…and so on).

In short: the question of how happy you are, or how much you weigh, if you start or stop smoking, get married or have children, depends to a large degree on those people that you socialize with, and the people those folks interact with – at least statistically speaking.

It’s a whole new perspective on the adage “You are who you know.”

Positive Psychology News Digest on Mappalicious | No. 2/16

My favorite pieces covering Positive Psychology and adjacent from (roughly) the last seven days:

New York Times: Having Friends Is Good for You, Starting in Your Teens by Nicholas Bakalar


Quartz: In our pursuit of happiness, Americans are losing sight of what actually makes us happy by Geoff Chang


Forbes: How To Bring Presence To Your Biggest Challenges by Paula Davis-Laack


Harvard Business Review: Income Inequality Makes Whole Countries Less Happy by Jan-Emmanuel De Neve &  Powdthavee Nattavudh


BPS Research Digest: Follow your heart – Having an unanswered calling in life is worse than having no calling at all by Alex Fradera


New York Magazine: How Expressing Gratitude Might Change Your Brain by Christian Jarrett


Washington Post: Your relationships are just as important to your health as diet and exercise by Elahe Izadi


Huffington Post: The science of happiness: Everything you need to know about the feeling we all crave by Jason March et al.


New York Times: ‘Design Thinking’ for a Better You by Tara Parker-Pope


Fast Company: Countries Do Get Happier When They Get Richer–But Only If They Share The Wealth by Ben Schiller


Wall Street Journal: Latest Game Theory: Mixing Work and Play by Rachel Emma Silverman


Greater Good Science Center: How Humility Will Make You the Greatest Person Ever by Vicki Zakrzewski


Science Daily: Brain can be trained to regulate negative emotions, study shows, no author

Positive Psychology | News Digest | Mappalicious

You are allowed to be both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress, simultaneously.

This quote brilliantly summarizes a mindset that I´ve been struggling with all the way up to my 30s. I´m definitely the “achiever type” person and into self-optimization, I want to be increasingly productive, get better at what I do, expand my outreach, and so on. I guess that is what drew me towards Positive Psychology in the first place. But this can be a pretty tough and unforgiving lifestyle – until it is balanced with a fair amount of self-compassion, and the ability to accept, appreciate, and enjoy what´s already there. I´m on my way…

Masterpiece - Progress

Hopes and Dreams: What the top-tier Positive Psychology Researchers wish for 2016

One day before New Year’s Eve, I sent an e-mail to some of the foremost researchers and experts in Positive Psychology and adjacent. I asked them to answer one of the following questions.

  • What do you hope for Positive Psychology in 2016?

  • What are your expectations of Positive Psychology in 2016?

  • What would be a breakthrough for Positive Psychology in 2016?

Positive Psychology Researchers - Mappalicious

While there obviously is a lot of variation in their answers, one common topic is the notion that Positive Psychology needs to shift its attention from individual wellbeing to a broader perspective: systemic or holistic wellbeing, so to say. The answers are displayed below in alphabetical order.

Shawn Achor, CEO of GoodThink Inc. and author of The Happiness Advantage:

I hope positive psychology continues to attract top talent inside and outside of academia, while re-embracing concepts like “happiness” which appeal to the non-academic population rather than going for jargon. I expect that positive psychology will take firmer hold inside of companies as more research comes out. We need a top company or celebrity to credit “positive psychology” (rather than individual interventions) for their success. I’d like to see a celebrity say positive psychology is so important they are donating money to spark the movement.

Robert Biswas-Diener, “Indiana Jones of Positive Psychology” and co-author of Upside of Your Dark Side:

What trends do I expect? 1) An increasing push to brand “positive” with different specialties (positive education, positive real estate, positive boxing, etc.). I think positive education has the greatest momentum so we will see more and more of this. 2) An increasingly “life hack” approach to disseminating positive psychology. For example, many bloggers, etc. will harp on single published studies or offer simplistic advice as a sort of low-cost cheat with big payoffs. I see this as akin to promoting effective communication by saying “use 3 hand gestures every minute.” Artificial, simplistic, dubious. I think this is a by-product of market forces on positive psychology. I think the real action– the important action– will happen in research (see below).

What I hope for: 1) This will take time but there are at least two labs that are undertaking very sophisticated intervention studies. Using careful methods, longitudinal sampling, careful controls, and consulting with academics such as clinical trial researchers to improve the quality of this research. 2) I think we will see an expansion in topics covered. Grit, resilience and happiness, to name three, have been popular, but I think we will start seeing more topics integrated: interest, friendship, hospitality, intelligence, attention, etc. 

Kim Cameron, professor at University of Michigan and co-founder of the Center for Positive Organizations:

My expectation is that the international membership* will double, and that in 18 months we will have as many non-USA members as we do members from The United States.

* This reply somewhat confused me. I conjecture that Professor Cameron is referring to the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA).

Angela Duckworth, professor at University of Pennsylvania and author of Grit:

My hope for Positive Psychology in 2016 is that there continues to be the scientific rigor that elevates this endeavor to something other than feel-good self-help!

Jane Dutton, professor at University of Michigan and co-author of How to be a Positive Leader:

I have one big wish: I hope for more serious research and consideration of how work and organizational contexts matter in limiting or facilitating human flourishing. My expectation (and deep hope) is that there will be an explosion of research in positive organizational psychology and that it will be used to foster humility and carefulness in how to apply positive psychology in work settings.  

Adam Grant, Wharton professor and author of Originals:

I hope for a shift in focus from the mind to behavior. Positive psychologists have paid a great deal of attention to cognitions and emotions, strengths and virtues, but far less to the actions that make our lives better.

Tim Kasser, professor at Knox College and author of The High Price of Materialism:

I hope that Positive Psychology will become less focused on trying to increase peoples’ personal happiness and instead recognize that a good life also includes living one’s life in ways that promote the well-being of other people and the ecological sustainability of the planet.

Scott Barry Kaufman, scientific director of the Imagination Institute, researcher and lecturer at Penn, and author of Wired to Create:

I’d like to see more research on Positive Communities, and deepen our understanding of their development and benefits. There’s so much of a focus on individual flourishing measured through self-report questionnaires. I’d like to see much more research on meaning as measured by the functioning of larger systems of people and community structures.

Dacher Keltner, professor at Berkeley and co-director of the Greater Good Science Center:

I hope that positive psychology will use its wisdom to tackle the costs of inequality and poverty.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor at University of California, Riverside and author of The How of Happiness:

I hope for the label “positive psychology” to be retired. We don’t need it anymore!

Ryan Niemiec, Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character and author of Positive Psychology at the Movies:

I expect there to be an array of important published and forthcoming studies on positive psychology interventions with problems (e.g., conflicts, disorders, stressors, dark side).

Martin Seligman, co-founder and spiritus rector of Positive Psychology:

I hope that more exoplanets suitable to life will be discovered* and that David Mitchell will publish another novel.

* I guess Marty has answered my question in a more comprehensive way. Always dreaming big, I daresay.

Amy Wrzesniewski, professor at Yale and one of the world´s foremost experts on meaning at/in work:

I hope that we see more top tier peer-reviewed research that sheds helpful light on the antecedents and outcomes of people finding a sense of meaning in their lives! Am doing my best to help!

Farewell to Competitiveness – Why Companies need a New Operating System

This post is just a little off-topic, but really just a little. Marc Stoffel is the CEO of Haufe-umantis, a Swiss software company. What make him special is the fact that he´s an elected CEO.

Haufe-umantis is special in many ways. Among the peculiarities is the fact that all leaders within the company are chosen by a democratic election – up to the position of CEO. I´ve had the chance to meet Marc on a couple of occasions. He´s a great guy and holds very intriguing conceptions of leadership, organization design, and engagement. One of his quotes still rings in my ears very clearly:

Employees choose their leaders each and every day – whether they are allowed to or not.