Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 16/2017

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

Positive Psychology News Digest

Quartz: The world’s largest assessment of teenage students suggests happiness is crucial to learning by Jenny Anderson


Greater Good Science Center: Confessions of a Bad Meditator by Christine Carter


Quartz: Silicon Valley executives are hiring philosophers to teach them to question everything by Michael Coren


Psychology Today: Are You the Pursuer or the Distancer in Your Relationship? by Lisa Firestone


Washington Post: Introverts tend to be better CEOs — and other surprising traits of top-performing executives by Jena McGregor


Huffington Post: You Don’t Need Good Grades To Get An A+ In Resilience by Bowman Nixon


Psychology Today: Why Speaking Less is the Secret to Powerful Communication by Emma Seppälä


Psychology Today: 7 Must-Read Books to Change Your Life This Summer by Emma Seppälä


Quartz: Our need to feel special is making us lonely by Emma Seppälä & Peter Sims


Quartz: What is the evolutionary purpose of happiness? by Oliver Staley


BBC: Prince William says keeping a stiff upper lip can damage health, no author

How to Replenish Your Energy at Work? Hint: It´s Not the Caffeine

Man_Cookie_kleinMost of us know these days: You´re rushing from one meeting to another, squeezing in those important calls with the tax consultant and your child´s class teacher – while desperately trying to finish that presentation for your boss which is due at 06:00 pm. This is what days at the office look like for a lot of who earn their money as so-called knowledge workers.

To make it through days like this (and perform well!), maintaining a high level of subjective energy is paramount. In the words of Jane Dutton (Center for Positive Organizations at Ross School of Business), human energy is the “fuel” that helps organizations run successfully. Here, an interesting question arises: How do people manage – and in the case of depletion – replenish their energy while still at the office?

This issue was addressed in a paper by researchers Charlotte Fritz, Chak Fu Lam, and Gretchen Spreitzer via an article in “Academy of Management Perspectives” from 2011. In order to do so, they surveyed 214 knowledge workers across all hierarchical levels on their subjective levels of energy (separate for presence and depletion of vitality) throughout their work days – and additionally assessed what kind of (micro-)strategies these people employ to maintain their energetic balance – and how often they use certain strategies compared to others.  Here´s the key takeaway:

When trying to recharge at work, most people get it wrong most of the time!

Among the most frequently used micro-strategies to recharge were:

  • drinking water or coffee, or having a snack;
  • checking e-mails, switching to another task, or making a to-do list;
  • surfing the net or talking to a colleague about non-work issues (e.g., sports).

In the study, none of these behaviors was associated with a heightened energy level, and some were actually connected to further depletion. Instinctively, many people seem to resort to strategies that shift their attention away from the current task. Yet, the scholars show this may be a severe case of looking in the wrong direction. Those energy management strategies found to be most positively related to vitality are:

  1. learning something new;
  2. focusing on what provides joy in work;
  3. setting a new goal;
  4. doing something that will make a colleague happy;
  5. make time to show gratitude to a colleague;
  6. seeking feedback;
  7. reflecting on how to make a difference at work;
  8. reflecting on the meaning of one´s work.

It´s a mental, or sometimes, emotional shift that breeds success.

In a nutshell, all of these strategies are work-related and reflect notions of learning, relationships, and meaning at work. Accordingly, the key to fill your batteries while at work may be to see your job with different eyes without taking your mind off the tasks at hand. It´s a mental, or sometimes, emotional shift that breeds success.

By the way: The only functional non-job-related strategy in the study was taking time to meditate. What about micro-strategies like taking a short nap or going for a walk? Fritz et al. found that these activities were related neither to the presence nor the depletion of energy – they just didn´t matter all that much. The researchers conclude that these strategies may have more potent effects as sources of recovery while being away from work, e.g., during evenings or weekends.

9 Ways to Learn [Infographic] – I prefer No. 2 & 5

This is another cool infographic by Anna Vital (featured her work on Mappalicious here, here, here, and here in the past. I definitely prefer No. 1 (doing), 2 (searching inside), and 5 (reading). How about you?

Share and enjoy! 

Learn_Vital

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…

I’m sitting in my favorite café in the beautiful city of Wiesbaden where I lived from 2005 to 2010. They make the best cappuccino in the whole wide world. 

Appropriately enough, I’ve just stumbled upon this witty quote by Anne Lamott:

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

  

News from Little Buddha: Mindfulness

Buddha_MindfulnessI am almost a little bit jealous. The likes of us have to read hundreds of books, visit seminar after seminar, or torment ourselves with seemingly infinite meditation sessions in order to find enlightenment – and in the end, all I experience is something like the equivalent of a stained 20-watt light bulb shortly before kicking the bucket. And Junior? Seems he´s already blessed with all the gifts.

Take, e.g., the fine art of mindfulness: I have spent hour after hour observing my breath (and besides, “embracing” the increasing pain in my knees), but for me it is still perplexingly difficult to restrain my monkey mind – up to the point where I consider basically not being born for experiencing silence of the mind.

In contrast, the Little Buddha easily manages to observe his own feet for more than 30 minutes in a row – and is so absorbed that you would not be surprised if he started to levitate a couple of inches above the floor. It must be so incredibly exciting to experience everything for the very first time. It´s a pity he will not be able to remember all these first times in a couple of years from now…