The 7 Habits of Highly Obnoxious Self-Help Articles

Double Face-PalmIn the light of recent events, here´s my list of the seven habits of highly obnoxious self-help articles:

1) Know-what: They tell you what to do instead of how to achieve it.

That’s basically useless. People typically know what´s “good and right”.

2) Scienciness: They tell you that “science says ” (or “research says”) XYZ without further explanation or linking to the original sources.

I mean, seriously? Go and do your homework!

3) Sloppiness: They use vacuous stock photos.

That´s not a crime, but as a matter of fact, inconsiderate. If I see one more article on Positive Psychology adorned with a smiley, I´ll go bonkers (…yet I plead guilty to having done that in the past).

4) One-track mind: They claim to make you “successful” – equating success with money.

Life is complex and colorful – and success comes in all shapes and sizes. Cash is only a small part of the equation.

5) Lectio interruptus: They tell you part of the story but then require you to download/buy XYZ to get the whole picture.

Hey, if you mojo is really worth it, I´m more than happy to buy your book. But don´t force me to.

6) Megalomania: They tell you that “after reading this all your problems (in the area of XYZ…) are solved forever”.

Duh…

7) Simpleness: They tell you that whatever they propose is “easy”.

Adding two and two is easy. But life mostly is not, at least not those things in life that are worth striving for. Get used to it…

A new fantastic Resource: thepositivepsychologypeople.com

Positive Psychology PeopleFor all of you that just cannot get enough of first-class Positive Psychology content – here’s something brand new for you:

http://thepositivepsychologypeople.com

The site was launched yesterday (UN´s International Happiness Day). All content will be supplied by a truly international team of outstanding researchers and practitioners, among them Lesley Lyle, Sandip Roy (who is a part of Happiness India Project), and Seph Fontane Pennock (who also runs PositivePsychologyProgram).

I wish you best of luck and millions of studious readers!

7 Methods to find almost any (Positive Psychology) Research Paper on the Internet…

Positive Psychology Articles…even if you don´t have one of those horribly expensive subscriptions to scientific data bases such as ScienceDirect or PsychINFO.

If you want to stay up to date on Positive Psychology, there´s lots of stuff for you out there. You can:

But if you are a little bit like me, you like to read an original research paper once in a while (here´s a collection of essential Positive Psychology papers), e.g., to do a fact-check, find additional articles, or just to get an in-depth perspective on a certain topic. Now, it can be a bit tough to get a hold of those papers since typically, they are hidden behind a database´s paywall. But then, the original publisher´s database is not the only way to obtain a certain paper. Here are seven alternative ways that don´t cost a cent.

Google Scholar

Nowadays, your first visit should always be Google Scholar. It indexes the sites of academic institutions but will also find a lot of research papers that are hosted somewhere else on the net. If you already know the paper´s name that you are looking for, just type that into the search field. But of course, you can also search for keywords, researchers, set a certain time frame, or limit your results to a certain branch of research etc. pp.

If a free PDF is available, it´ll typically open up directly when clicking on the article in the search results. But oftentimes, there are different references for the same articles. It´s always helpful to click on the “versions” button below the search result –  sometimes, the link to a PDF does not work, but then you can find another link that actually does work via that button.

Another great feature is the button that letS you find “similar results”. If you have found an interesting article, clicking on that button will display papers that are very close to the one that you´ve found, e.g., because it´s from the same researchers, covers a similar topic, or cites a lot of the same references. Using this button cleverly will quickly deliver a decent overview of the really relevant papers for a certain research topic.

Google Scholar also shows you how often a paper is cited by other articles. Without changing the settings, articles are typically (sort of) ranked in that order. Once again, this helps a lot to understand what are the really relevant papers and/or researchers in a specific field.

Use Google´s “Filetype Search”

Even though Google Scholar is pretty good at finding research PDFs on the net, it will not find all of them. I´ve obtained a lot of papers by using a valuable tool from the regular Google search. You can limit your search results to PDFs by typing “filetype:PDF” before your search terms (of course, this also works with .doc; .ppt etc.). This way works most effectively when you already know the full title of the paper that your are looking for. In that case, limit your search to PDFs and then copy/paste the title into the search bar in parentheses. If the article´s PDF is to be found somewhere on the internet, you´ll get it that way.

Visit the Researcher´s academic Website

For good reasons, most of the researchers will have a publication list on their websites. If there´s a free PDF on the internet, most of those researchers (those that have an interest in being read and cited) will set a link to the respective PDFs or host them on their own website. While it is typically not allowed to host a research paper that resides behind a database pay wall, there are often exceptions for the authors of those papers (at least, after a certain amount of time has passed after publication). Even if you do not find the exact same paper that you´re looking for, you may find earlier working papers or conference papers that are very similar to the article that you are actually looking for.

Research Gate

There´s a (rather) new and very cool site by the name of ResearchGate. It´s something like a LinkedIn/Facebook for researchers – and a lot of articles are available via the participants´ profiles. So it´s a good idea to sign up. But typically, if a PDF is to be found there, Google Scholar will also reference it.

Send an E-Mail to the Researcher

Nowadays, you´ll find the e-mail address of the so-called “corresponding author” on the title page of every research paper (and in most cases, it´s also mentioned below the article’s abstract on the net). If there´s no way to get a free PDF via the WWW, you can just send an e-mail and politely ask for a copy of the paper. If the researcher in question is still active and has an interest in being read and published, there´s a good chance you´ll get a nice reply containing the PDF in no time.

Ask a Buddy

It´s always handy to know at least one professor, post-doc, or Ph.D. student. Even if they do not work in the specific field that you are interested in, there´s a good chance they can obtain a paper via their university´s database subscription – and e-mail it to you. Use this method sparingly as this group of people tends to work about 150 hours per week.

Pray

Just kidding. If the aforementioned six way don´t work, you’re probably screwed.*

 

*If you know additional ways of obtaining free research PDFs, please leave a comment below this article.

Watch out for “Fulfillment Daily” – the Science-backed news Source on “The Good Life”

I´m excited! On June 15th, a new website will launch. It´s name: Fulfillment Daily. What it says on their website: Fulfillment Daily is a place to get science-backed inspiring news to benefit your own life, inspire others, and, ultimately, contribute to uplifting all of society. We envision a world in which everyone has access to the science of fulfillment.

Fulfillment

Among the regular contributors will be some top experts in the field of Positive Psychology. And … um … well … me. The project´s founder is Emma Seppälä, Associate Director at Stanford´s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Among the group of writers are Scott Barry Kaufman, author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Emilia Lahti, Queen of Sisu, and Wharton´s Adam Grant, author of Give and Take. How I managed to be among this group of magnificent people? I don´t know. The Lord moves in mappalicious ways…

You can also follow Fulfillment Daily on Facebook and Twitter.

Was Socrates a happy Man? And if he lived today – would he be a Blogger?

Socrates - Louvre

By Eric Gaba (CC-BY-SA-2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The topic for the afternoon of the last day of MAPP immersion week was the trial that eventually lead to the death sentence of Socrates, arguably one of the most important philosophers of all time. There are some hints in the Apology, Plato´s account of the trial, that allude to the idea that Socrates ‘chose’ to be sentenced to death – in the sense that he could have gotten away with a significantly milder punishment, if had chosen to display a different demeanor. Yet, he stayed true to his own self (being a philosopher, asking lots of probing questions, and thereby being the ‘pain in the ass’ of most of his fellow citizens), which provoked the judges and most his fellow Athenians (“Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy…”). Supposedly, there were some politically motivated reasons for his death sentence as well – but that is another story.

James Pawelski, Director of the MAPP program asked us an interesting question: was Socrates a ‘happy’ man? Obviously, it´s not possible to ask him any more – but the Apology contains some hints on that topic: when investigating the text for displays of PERMA, Martin Seligman´s definition of the elements of flourishing: Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement. While it is not clear if Socrates experienced a lot of positive affect (P), it is save to say that he displayed a high level pertaining to the remaining four elements: He obviously had something which he deeply cared about and regularly was immersed in, e.g., teaching his students (E). He also had a wife and three children, as well as his students and followers that admired and valued him (R). Socrates definitely experienced a sense of meaning in his life. He felt that it was his noble duty to be a philosopher and oftentimes spoke of his inner daimon that protected and/or guided him. And finally, we are still able to read about his deeds today – which obviously is not true for most of the other men of his time (A). Bottom line: While we cannot be sure about the ‘P’, there was definitely a lot of ‘ERMA’ in his life.

Let us rest the case here. But what about the other question? Would he be a blogger today? First, I assume, it is helpful to know how this rather strange question came into being. Unlike James, I am a psychologist and coach by training, not a philosopher. So I asked him about the psychological contract between Socrates and his fellow Athenians. While he had a lot of students that would actively seek him out, he supposedly also used his Socratic Method (basically: asking someone lots of questions until he finds the right answer by himself) on a lot people that really did not want to be bothered by him. James answered analogously, that Socrates probably would not want to be named a ‘patron of the coaching business’ – but that today, he might be a kind of (political) blogger. He would try to be the thorn in the side of the leading political class, exposing their flaws and misconceptions.

Once again, we cannot ask him anymore – but I kind of like that thought…