Mappalicious discontinued for the time being…

rawpixel-255076-unsplashDear reader! I´ve decided to discontinue writing on Mappalicious for the time being. I´m currently going through a transition in my professional life, as well as writing on a German book on Posititive Organizational Science. For this reason, my focus and energy is needed elsewhere. This is not to say that Mappalicious as a project is finished – but I will not add any new articles at least until the second half of 2019.

Of course, you can still access all the content (…close to 600 posts…) that was generated ever since starting Mappalicious when I joined the MAPP program at University of Pennylvania in 2013. To give you a headstart in case you´ve found this site rather recently, below you´ll find a top-20 list of articles that were either read the most – or that I personally like the most. Of course, I will continue to share insights from the world of Positive Psychology (in organizations) in the meantime. Accordingly, if you haven´t done so, please follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Reading about Positive Psychology on Mappalicious: Where to start?

  1. Great Infographic on Self-Compassion: How not to be Hard on Yourself
  2. Feel-Good vs. Feel-Purpose: Hedonia and Eudaimonia as separate but connected Pathways to Happiness
  3. “To Thine Own Self Be True”: Self-Concordance and Healthy Goal-Striving
  4. Bad is Stronger than Good! That is why our World desperately needs Positive Psychology
  5. 3 “Original” Questions for Wharton´s Adam Grant
  6. A Definition of Positive Interventions
  7. Are you a H.E.R.O.? Positive Organizational Capital (PsyCap) explained
  8. Lift! On Leading with Purpose
  9. 22 Positive Psychology-infused Articles every (HR) Leader should know
  10. The James Bond Philosophy of Life – in 007 Chapters
  11. What’s your “Ikigai”? On Purpose, Meaning, and making a Living
  12. My Mind´s MAP(P): The 4-minute Ivy League Diploma in Positive Psychology
  13. On the Meaning of Meaning at Work: A Collection of Infographics
  14. Honoring the Forefathers: Viktor Frankl and Men’s Quest for Meaning
  15. My Year in MAPP: A 5-Step Course in the fine Art of Being Un-German
  16. Following your Bliss vs. following your Blisters
  17. Feedback on Optimal Human Functioning: The Reflected Best Self Exercise™
  18. 10 fantastic Quotes by William James that preview Positive Psychology
  19. Heavy. Metal. Heart. Finding Happiness in Angry Music
  20. I´ve got 99 Words for Happiness, but the Germans only have One
Picture: unsplash.com/@rawpixel

Will you help me to reach 100.000 Positive Psychology page views for 2015?

Mappalicious 100.000OK, so I know this a kind of cheesy request, but here I go anyway… 🙂

I´m putting a lot of time and effort in this blog, bringing together valuable information, inspirational things, and sometimes fun stuff on Positive Psychology and related topics. I´m doing this for free – and to be honest: for fun, because I just love writing. I´m not selling anything and I even pay 80$ (or so…) a year to WordPress so Mappalicious stays free of ads.

Nevertheless, I do have goals: I try to broaden the audience of Mappalicious year by year, because I want as many people as possible to learn about research and practice in the field of Positive Psychology. At the beginning of this year, I set a goal of reaching 80.000 page views for 2015 (after managing close to 60.000 in 2014). Due to some exceptional outreach in early summer, I extended that goal to 100.000 page views – but in the fall, I was too busy working in my main job, so I couldn’t write as much as I would have liked to do. Therefore, the audience dropped for some months. Still, right now the count is at 90.400.

In really, really good months I have +10.000 page views. So, if December will be a really, really good month for Mappalicious, I will be able to reach the goal I´ve set for myself in summer. And this is where you come in to play: Only you, my cherished readers, can help me to turn December into a really, really good month for my blog. So here´s my plea:

If you have found something useful/joyful on Mappalicious in 2015, I kindly ask you to share this (again) with your friends on Facebook, Twitter etc. pp.

To make life a little easier for you, here you´ll find a list of the 10 most-read articles on Mappalicious for 2015. But of course, you can share anything that you particularly liked.

  1. Positive Psychology People and Institutions to follow on Twitter
  2. Positive Psychology Articles – a topical Collection
  3. 5 essential brand-new & upcoming Books on Positive Psychology
  4. 7 wonderful TED Talks related to Positive Psychology (Self-Motivation, Body Language, Positive Stress… and more)
  5. Do you know “Action for Happiness”? Well, you should!
  6. 7 Methods to find almost any (Positive Psychology) Research Paper on the Internet
  7. 22 Positive Psychology-infused Articles every (HR) Leader should know
  8. Positive Psychology Constructs
  9. Study: Some Languages are Happier than others. Hint: German didn´t make No. 1
  10. Positive Psychology – a topical Collection of 45 TED Talks

Thanks a lot in advance!

German Workforce is especially stressed out. One more reason to bring Positive Psychology to Deutschland

Stress - Germans - ADPThe European branch of HR consulting firm ADP has surveyed some 11,000 employees across eight countries of the continent (link to press release). One of the striking results:

Despite (Or maybe: Due to?) a distinctly flourishing economy which displays an unemployment level at its lowest since the time before the reunification, Germany’s workforce seems to be utterly stressed out. 50% of workers report they are “frequently stressed” at work. That puts us in second place behind the Polish. On the other end of the continuum, stress levels are the lowest in the Netherlands*. Now what is happening here? Are my fellow countrymen really all that stressed? Or is just more accepted, or even en vogue, to report that one is stressed out?

Because the funny thing is: Several other studies show that Germans work considerably less hours per year compared to almost any other nation. Most of us can take between 24 and 30 days of vacation, there’s countless bank holidays – and working hours are pretty acceptable on average (see some more details here). So, by any means, this should be a workers’ paradise. Still, 50% heavily complain about the status quo.

My guess: it’s a question of mindsets, of attention, and focus. I’ve already written several posts on how German culture has an inclination towards “loving the negative”, and how we are overly anxious on average (e.g., how German lacks some positive words; or how studying Positive Psychology to me seemed like a course in being Un-German). Feeling overly stressed at work when we really live in a sort of land of milk and honey seems like a relative of “German Angst” or “Weltschmerz”.

But beware, my fellow countrymen: Positive Psychology will definitely come to a place somewhere near you. Even if I have to do it all by myself…

 

*According to the cliché, that must be because of all that dope they smoke over there…

I´ve got 99 Words for Happiness, but the Germans only have One

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?

Glueck - Luck

Glueck - Luck

Study: Some Languages are Happier than others. Hint: German didn´t make No. 1

A couple of weeks ago, I was musing about the notion that the German language may just not be the perfect vehicle for Positive Psychology – as I feel my mother tongue may lack specific positive words, or at least displays a certain lack of breadth and differentiation at the positive end of the “language scale”. While this “lost in translation” effect was based on my intuition and personal experience, recent research supports my notion at least to some extent. As part of a large-scale study, researchers collected the most frequently used words in all of the major languages of the world – and then had them rated for positivity/negativity by natives speakers.

Finding No. 1: Positivity

Each and every language is positively skewed. Means: across languages, positive words are used more often than negative words.

No. 2: Distribution

Some languages are heavily inclined to the positive side (e.g, Spanish), while others are more balanced (e.g., Chinese). German is located in the lower middle part, so we use positive words less often than a lot of other languages (including English).

I think this study is able to shed some light on why someone might feel the aforementioned “lost in translation” effect when trying to bring Positive Psychology to a culture other than the “typical” Anglo-Saxon context. It just might be a (slight) case of an emotional mismatch.
IMG_4374

There´s a Lack of Positive Words in the German Language

A couple of times in the past, I´ve written about how immersing yourself in Positive Psychology is somewhat hard when you´re German – because it seems to be a slightly “Un-German” topic. Today, I´d like to explore this topic from a slightly different angle – that of language. Oscar Wilde supposedly said “Life is too short to learn German.” And he may have been right. It´s pretty complicated and therefore awfully hard to learn as a foreign tongue. Yet, it is the language of Goethe, Schiller, and Rammstein – that´s something to explore.

Speaking of the metal band Rammstein: there´s this thing about German pronunciation that makes just about everything sound like a declaration of war – even if you say something like “I love you”. There´s a funny video about this on Youtube. The guys overdo it a little, but then, this may just be what it feels like to a non-German ear:

But I digress. What I really want to talk about: I feel there´s a lack of positive words in the German language. Positive Psychology was (sort of…) invented in the U.S. – and most research papers and books are written in English. When I came to Penn, obviously I had to study the subject in English, too. But now that I´m back in Germany, I try to “sell” the topic over here, which has to be done in German of course. And that´s where the problems begin.

There´s this myth that the Inuit have an unusually high number of words to describe snow. We have “50 Shades of Grey”, they supposedly have 50 shades of snow. Actually, this is not true. But the idea behind the myth seems highly intriguing to me. In short it says: when something is valued very highly in a specific culture this tends to influence the use of language. Specifically, people pay more attention to the subject because of its importance, thereby learning to make more subtle distinctions, that ultimately are reflected in the amount of different words that can be used to talk about the subject.

To a certain degree, this idea mirrors one of Wittgenstein´s most famous dictums:

The limits of my language means the limits of my world.

When I do not have a word for something, that makes it hard to think about that subject, because it cannot be “grasped”. And it makes it even harder to speak about “that something” to other people. That idea is (probably) embodied in another Wittgenstein quote: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

Which brings us back to my problem of “selling” Positive Psychology in German:

Where there are no words, you can´t “spread the word”.

When I first tried to talk and write about Positive Psychology in German, oftentimes I felt a lack of the “right” words. For example, the German language has the same word (ergo: a lack of distinction…) for the subjects of “Happiness” and “Luck”. Both are signified by the noun “Glück”. So whenever I talk about happiness and positive emotions in the context Positive Psychology, I have to use an awful lot of extra words to get across the intended meaning.

But it´s not only a lack of distinction. Sometimes, I even feel there are no words. For instance, the brilliant Jonathan Haidt gave a lecture on the subject of “awe” in one of our MAPP classes. This moved me very much and I wanted to talk about my experience with friends back in Germany. The problem is: obviously, there is no adequate translation for “awe”. If you type “awe” into a translation machine, you’ll get the German equivalents of “veneration” or “reverence”, “rapture” or “entrancement”. All the suggestions entail a very religious or, at least, old-fashioned connotation. They are not part of a modern, non-religious German “language game”. Therefore, talking about “awe” in German in a scientific (or just everyday) context seems awfully hard.

This bears some interesting implications. Whenever I fill in a questionnaire on happiness or life satisfaction (e.g., here on Marty Seligman´s website), there´s an interesting phenomenon when I look at the results. These will be displayed in the context of different normed groups. E.g., your scores will be compared to other people of your age, your educational background, but also your ZIP code (when provided). Now here´s the thing: Comparing my results to other people from my ZIP code (ergo: other Germans) will always put me in a higher percentile. This means: based on the same raw scores, the algorithm will display that I´m quite happy when comparing myself to other men in general, or other Ph.Ds, but that I´m extremely(!) happy when comparing myself to other Germans.

Now, there´s a couple of different explanations for this phenomenon. The easiest one would be: on average, the German respondents in that data base are not all that happy – and that´s why I score (relatively) higher vis-à-vis that group. But it may also be a phenomenon of language. What if Germans were just as happy on average as, let´s say, U.S. citizens, but were reluctant to use positive self-descriptions in an extreme specification – just because it´s not part of our “happiness language game”? Maybe, via studying Positive Psychology in English in the U.S., I became a little less German, thereby being able to mitigate the dissonance of describing my life in a very positive light?

I guess Positive Psychology has to integrate cultural perspectives more and more in order to be equally “useful” for all the people on this planet. Recently, the Scientific American published a piece by the name of “Not Everyone Wants to Be Happy” citing different studies that were able to show that the concept and meaning of happiness can vary significantly between different cultures (notably, between more Western and more Eastern cultures) – but has also evolved over time. Very though-provoking.

Which brings me to the final question for today:

Could Germany be a better place if somebody invented new positive words?

“The German” per se (as a stereotype”) is depicted as a sober-minded person. We´re perceived as being diligent, orderly, industrious, and a lot of other helpful attributes. But we´re also depicted as being rather anxious, risk-averse, and just not that open-minded (think “German Angst”). This is not just an academic discussion. The German economy has been doing comparably well over the last couple of years – but how long will this last? We´re really not that good at building and financially supporting start-ups. Forbes regularly updates a large list of all those startups that are valued at more than one billion $ in terms of private equity funding. Only one of those is based in Germany.

What if all this were (at least to some extent) a consequence of a lack of the right positive words? Would we become more optimistic, less risk-averse, and more open-minded if we were able to enhance our language, if we were able to broaden the (far) positive side of our verbal aptitude? I think it´d be worth a try. In 1999, a German publisher of dictionaries (together with ice-tea brand Lipton) hosted a contest for the invention of a new word. We have a German word for the state of being “full” (= not hungry any more) – but there´s no positively framed expression for being “not thirsty any more”. As far as I know, the winning word has not made it into our regular language use, but I guess it was worth the effort.

So why shouldn’t we – for starters – find a more awesome translation for “awe”? I´m eager to hear your suggestions…

Top 10 Articles for 2014 on Mappalicious – Positive Psychology

Top 10I´ve written 157 posts on Mappalicious in 2014. My learning: Content curation (when it´s well done…) really draws large audiences. Posts No. 1, 2, 4, 6, and, to a lesser degree, 10 are lists of Positive Psychology articles, books, and videos.

Then, video content obviously works: No. 7 & 9 are beautiful video clips on Positive Psychology topics.

Additionally, there´s a lot of “Finn-Power” in this list. No. 5 is my first Mappsterview featuring the “Queen of Sisu”, Emilia Lahti, who´s recently given her first TEDx talk (must-watch). No. 8 is a fun article based on the marvelous work of Finnish super-hero philosopher Esa Saarinen.

Last not least, I´m happy to see that a very personal, slightly off-topic, post has made No. 3.

  1. Positive Psychology Articles
  2. Positive Psychology Constructs
  3. SCHLAAAAAND! How the Soccer World-Cup helps to Build a Likeable Version of the “German Nation”
  4. Positive Psychology at Work: A Book List for the Layman
  5. Mappsterview No. 1: Emilia Lahti, the Queen of Sisu
  6. My Top 20 TED(x) Talks on Happiness, Well-Being, Meaning & Co.
  7. Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: Watch this beautiful 5-minute Instructional Video
  8. The James Bond Philosophy of Life – in 007 Chapters
  9. A little Kindness goes a long Way: heart-warming Short Film about the Power of being a Giver
  10. My Mind´s MAP(P): The 4-minute Ivy League Diploma in Positive Psychology

 

Thanks a lot to all friends, frequent as well as less frequent visitors, and all those who “stumbled upon” Mappalicious by chance. See you in 2015!

 

Source for Top 10 graphic