Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 14/2017

My favorite news and blog articles covering Positive Psychology and adjacent Topics from (roughly) the last seven days.

mappalicious_news_digest_2017

Penn News: Penn Researcher Awarded $2.5 Million to Study Well-being Effects of the Arts and Humanities by Michele Berger & Katherine Unger Baillie


New York Times: Turning Negative Thinkers Into Positive Ones by Jane Brody


Quartz: Knowing when to quit is as important as having grit by Susan David


Atlantic: How Loneliness Begets Loneliness by Olga Khazan


Fast Company: Want To Be Happier And More Successful? Learn To Like Other People by David Mayer


Psychology Today: Having a Religion Doesn’t Help You, But Practicing One Does by Ryan Niemiec


Psychology Today: Presidents and the Pursuit of Happiness by Benjamin Radcliff


New York Times: Check This Box if You’re a Good Person by Rebecca Sabky


Harvard Business Review: Meaningful Work Should Not Be a Privilege of the Elite by Richard Straub & Julia Kirby


Harvard Business Review: 6 Ways to Look More Confident During a Presentation by Kasia Wezowski

Positive Psychology News Digest on Mappalicious | No. 11/16

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

Greater Good Science Center: You Will Never Find Work-Life Balance by Christine Carter


New York Times: Denmark Ranks as Happiest Country; Burundi, Not So Much by Sewell Chan


Fulfillment Daily: Happiness at Work: Get a Big Boost from Small Frequent Pleasures by Ron Friedman


Psychology Today: How Can Positive Psychology Be More Open to the Negative? by Todd Kashdan


Psychology Today : Expectations, Dopamine and Louis CK by Alex Korb


Quartz: This four-letter word is the Swedish key to happiness at work by Anne Quito


Huffington Post (Education): Why Being Tired of Grit is Tiresome by Stuart Rhoden


Chicago Tribune: Stanford psychologist tells us how to fight workplace burnout by Nara Schoenberg


Intelligent HQ: Why is Positive Psychology So Misunderstood? by Ana Teresa Silva

Positive Psychology | News Digest | Mappalicious

Another 3 Positive Psychology-infused Books I´m really looking forward to

This is the magic of books: One can never have enough of them. After publishing two lists of recent and upcoming books that are infused by Positive Psychology over the last days (list one, list two) people kept pointing my attention towards more exciting stuff. So here´s another list of three books that you should definitely put on your reading list.

Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire: Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind. Scott Barry Kaufman is the scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center and author of “Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined”. About the book:

“Based on psychologist Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking.”

Jane McGonigal: SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient–Powered by the Science of Games. Jane McGonigal is a senior researcher at the Institute for the Future and the author of The New York Times bestseller “Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.” About the book:

“McGonigal reveals a decade’s worth of scientific research into the ways all games—including videogames, sports, and puzzles—change how we respond to stress, challenge, and pain. She explains how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more “gameful” mind-set.”

D. J. Moores, James O. Pawelski & others (Eds.): On Human Flourishing: A Poetry Anthology. James Pawelski is the Director of Education and Senior Scholar in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he serves as the founding director of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program. About the book:

This collection of verse brings together poems of felicity, capturing what it means to be well in the fullest sense. Presented in 14 thematic sections, these works offer inspiring readings on wisdom, self-love, ecstasy, growth, righteousness, love and lust, inspiration, oneness with nature, hope, irreverence, awe, the delights of the senses, gratitude and compassion, relation to the sacred, justice, and unity.

Positive Psychology Books - 3

“All in on Love” and other beautiful Stories…

I guess I´m suffering from MAPP deprivation. The Penn graduation ceremony seems like a long time ago – even though it´s only been three months since then. And now that I´ve handed in my master thesis I´m free to do whatever I want. But the truth is: I miss my stays in Philadelphia. And I miss my MAPP classmates.

Time to engage in some reminiscence. Below, you´ll find a collage from graduation weekend (click to enlarge; from left to right and clockwise: Martin Seligman, co-founder of Positive Psychology and me; standing out from the crowd; James Pawelski, academic director of the MAPP program at Penn, and me; a view of Penn´s stadium during commencement; commencement brochure etc.; reuniting with Linda Matesevac, my psychology teacher from 19 years ago; the “Walk of Honor” on Penn´s Locust Walk; middle: me and some MAPP cohort members).

Nico Rose - MAPP - Penn Graduation

And you should definitely check out Penn President Amy Gutman´s salutation – and the fabulous commencement speech given by Penn alumnus and Soul & R´n´B star John Legend (“All in on Love”; here´s the full text). Enjoy!

My Mind´s MAP(P): The 4-minute Ivy League Diploma in Positive Psychology

MAPP 9 Superhero MedalFor 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… 🙂

Which Super-Power would You rather Possess: Fighting Evil or Promoting Good?

In order to learn more about the meaning of the word/concept “positive” in “Positive Psychology” (which the following post is all about), I highly encourage you to visit the website of James Pawelski, where he provides an in-depth analysis.


OK. So here´s a question for you: Some higher being has chosen to endow you with super-powers. You get to choose between two different profiles:

Superpower_Good_Evil

Let me elaborate a bit more on this:

  • So, you could either be Mr. Red Cape. He´s your typical super-hero. He fights “the Bad”: Kicks the shit out of the bad guys, saves people from collapsing skyscrapers, and might even have the power to fight epidemics and end the occasional war. But: he cannot create “the Good”.
  • Or, you could be Mr. Green Cape. He´s a different kind of super-hero. He has the ability to spread trust and love, and give meaning to individuals and whole communities etc. . But: he cannot eradicate “the Bad” – he definitely cannot end poverty and other calamities for good.

Mind you, this is an either-or story. You have 100% of one side – and 0% of the other. Who would you want to be – and why?

I won´t give you an answer here – because there is no single “right” solution.* But maybe, you´d like to think (or rather: feel) it through – and then share your thoughts in the comment section…?

 

*Although James Pawelski, MAPP´s academic director and Chief Philosophy Officer, is not too fond of simple and easy answers, he probably would have one for you here. But I´m not going to write it down – so as not to be the spoilsport for future Mappsters and listeners of his beautiful lectures in general…

Picture source: red cape, green cape

Positive Psychology and MAPP at Penn: Doing that Namedropping Thing

Actually, I should be busy writing on my MAPP final papers right now. But then, taking short breaks is supposed to help your mind stay fresh, right?

By now, a lot of people that have read my blog also contacted me to ask about my MAPP experience. Obviously, it´s not that easy to tell a story of 10 months in a few sentences. Hey, that´s why I started this blog in the first place…* There´s also been some questions about the tuition – and to be honest, it´s not exactly a bargain. I could have not taken part without some generous support from my employer (or rather: my boss). But hey – Penn belongs to the Ivy League and that comes with a price tag.

If you´d like to know why I am convinced that it was worth each and every penny (and much more…), please read my blog front to back. Otherwise, you might be convinced by the sheer (work-)force of people that you’ll  have the pleasure and honor to learn from. So here is the name-dropping list. Please note that the guest lecturers and assistant instructors will vary from year to year (C = core faculty; G = guest lecturer; A = assistant instructor that has taught part of a class at some point):

That´s value for money…

*And to become super-duper famous, of course…