A Definition of Positive Interventions

lauren-peng-43963The community of positive psychology researchers has yet to agree on a generally accepted definition of positive interventions. While there are several definitions available that display a considerable overlap, there is still a lot of space for conceptual clarification (Parks & Biswas-Diener, 2013). I posit the following definition:

A positive intervention is an evidence-based, intentional act or series of actions (behavioral strategy) meant to increase (away from zero) that which causes or constitutes well-being and flourishing in non-clinical populations.

I will explicate the elements of positive interventions in the order they appear in the aforementioned definition.

Positive

The term “positive” in positive interventions defines the contextual and methodical framework that positive psychology operates on. On the contextual level, the target group of positive interventions are “normal people”, meaning humans from a non-clinical population (Seligman & Csíkszentmihályi, 2000). This represents a crucial difference to most therapeutic interventions that are designed to improve the condition of people suffering from a psychological disorder such as a depressive episode (Gable & Haidt, 2005). At the same time is has to be noticed that, in spite of this, there are studies that investigate the effectiveness of positive interventions for clinical populations (Duckworth, Steen, & Seligman, 2005). On the methodological level, positive interventions try to utilize positive phenomena of human cognition and emotion, such as pleasant feelings and memories, mindfulness, or the intentional use of character strengths and virtues (Peterson, 2006). Once again, this can be contrasted to interventions in clinical psychology, where “non-positive” methods such as the prescription of anti-depressants are custom. It is important to note that positive interventions (and positive psychology in general) do not prescribe a specific positive finite or ideal state of being. Rather, they can be characterized by a spirit that embraces constructive meliorism (Pawelski, 2005), the belief that humans can improve their condition no matter what. As such, positive psychology seeks to help people to reach their full potential, their individual best-possible life.

Evidence-based

Positive interventions are based on sound scientific research, ideally double-blind experiments using adequate control groups, as well as longitudinal evaluation studies (Seligman, 2002; Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009). This represents an important modification compared to adjacent disciplines, such as humanistic psychology. While both disciplines share a lot of common ground pertaining their phenomena of interest, values, and goals, humanistic psychologists tend(ed) to be somewhat dismissive of large-scale empirical research (Seligman & Csíkszentmihályi, 2000). It is not unreasonable to say that methods akin to positive interventions were by and large confined to the large body of self-help literature up to the onset of the third century. Through positive psychology, they have finally entered the academic discourse for good.

Intentional Activity

Positive interventions seek to foster human agency, autonomy, and self-efficacy (Ryan, Huta, & Deci, 2008). The “active ingredient” of each intervention should reside within the individual, not in some external sphere. Therefore, a certain level of willpower, self-regulation and effort are needed for carrying out a positive intervention (Lyubomirsky & Layous, 2014). This postulate can once again be contrasted to the prescription of anti-depressants, where the desired effect is created by something that is external to the individual and cannot be influenced directly. This is a crucial aspect since many researchers try to find ways to deliver positive intervention in a “self-help” style, e.g., as an online assignment (Ouweneel, Le Blanc, & Schaufeli, 2013). Hence, it is paramount that positive interventions are relatively easy to carry out and rely on whatever resources an individual already disposes of before learning how to perform the intervention.

Away from zero/non-clinical Populations

This aspect once again alludes to the contextual domain of positive psychology. Interventions in clinical psychology are designed to help people reach a neutral (non-clinical) condition when they are perceived to be displaying a psychopathology. In short: their task is to relieve suffering (Seligman & Csíkszentmihályi, 2000). In a simple mathematical analogy, their aim is to get people from some negative number to (around) zero. On the contrary, positive interventions are meant to increase human well-being in the positive direction, away from zero. Yet, while this mathematical analogy is easy to grasp, it is also misleading to a certain extent. There is reason to believe that positive states (mental health, flourishing) and negative states (mental illness, suffering) are somewhat independent spheres of the human condition. It is not uncommon to experience elements of flourishing even when severely ill; and at the same time, it is also possible to display a lack of subjective well-being in spite of the absence of any psychopathology (Westerhof & Keyes, 2010). Therefore, when drawing on mathematical analogies, at the end of the day in may be more appropriate to assign a point in a Cartesian system to each person, rather than a point on a standalone continuum.

Causes or constitutes Well-being and Flourishing

Finally, positive interventions promote dimensions of human well-being, be it the psychological well-being model proposed by Ryff and Keyes (1995), Diener´s (2000) subjective well-being construct, or Seligman´s (2011) PERMA framework (or, for that matter, any adjacent concept). As such, the possible desired outcomes of positive interventions are manifold. They include positive emotions and cognitions such as happiness, satisfaction with life, autonomy and relatedness, experiences that foster engagement, e.g., the discovery and use of one´s character strengths, boosting the quality of one´s relationships, finding meaning and purpose in life, or higher levels of achievement. In addition, physical well-being should explicitly be included, since regular physical exercise is a viable approach to achieve psychological well-being as well (Fox, 1999).

The underlying Mechanics of Positive Interventions

While researchers in positive psychology have early on developed and empirically tested positive interventions (Seligman et al., 2005), the question of why and how these interventions actually work has only recently entered the academic discourse (Schueller, 2010). A current article by Lyubomirsky and Layous (2014) presents a preliminary model with regard to this question: The authors posit that encouraging people to complete positive interventions leads them to have higher levels of positive emotions, think more positive thoughts, and display more positive behaviors, which in turn results in increased well-being and improvement in life domains such as work, relationships, and health. While there seems to be a lot of truth to this explanation, it remains somewhat generic.

In this section of the article, I will therefore explicate my own outline of the mechanics behind positive interventions. This includes thinking about the underlying mechanisms as well as reporting some empirical findings on the question in what contexts and for which target groups they work best. To start, I´d like to repeat the definition of positive interventions given in the previous section: A positive intervention is an evidence-based, intentional act or series of actions (a behavioral strategy) meant to increase (away from zero) that which causes or constitutes well-being and flourishing in non-clinical populations. The most important part of this definition for the upcoming section is: “intentional act”. These words represent two of the general principles that underlie the functioning of all positive interventions: a) focusing our attention on a specific positive matter of interest; and b) getting us to actively change our behavior along the line of self-defined goals.

The importance of the first component – focusing our attention – was already proposed by the “father of American psychology”, William James (1890/1923, p. 424): “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will […] (1890/1923, p. 424). Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that intentionally focusing our attention on the good things in life will result in an increased level of positive emotion. This relationship holds true for several variations of meditation practice, such as mindfulness-based meditation (Brown & Ryan, 2003) and loving-kindness meditation (Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, & Finkel, 2008).

The beneficial effect of the second component – taking deliberate action – is equally backed by extant research. There is abundant evidence for the proposition that building one´s feeling of agency and being in control is accompanied by feelings of autonomy, which over time leads to an increase in well-being (Ryan, Huta, & Deci, 2008). Implicitly embedded in the notion of carrying out an intentional act is the connotation that there has to be some kind of goal that one strives to attain. Goal-setting theory (Locke, 1996) posits that having clear and attainable goals, and receiving goal-related feedback frequently, raises the likelihood of actually reaching our goals – which in turn leads to higher levels of self-efficacy (Maddux, 2009) – which then raises the likelihood of achieving one´s goals in the future. And attaining one´s personal goals, at the end of the day, yields a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and meaning in life (Brunstein, 1993; Sheldon & Elliot, 1999; Emmons, 2003).

In summary, the mechanics that underlie the efficacy of positive interventions can be integrated as follows: completing positive interventions leads humans to have higher levels of positive emotions, think more positive thoughts, and display more positive behaviors via focusing their attention on the good things in life, enabling them to attain meaningful goals, thereby strengthening their feeling of agency and self-efficacy, which nurtures their sense of achievement and purpose in life.

References

Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822-848.

Brunstein, J. C. (1993). Personal goals and subjective well-being: A longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(5), 1061-1070.

Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. American Psychologist, 55(1), 34-43.

Duckworth, A. L., Steen, T. A., & Seligman, M. E. (2005). Positive psychology in clinical practice. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 629-651.

Emmons, R. A., (2003). Personal goals, life meaning, and virtue: Wellsprings of a positive life. In C. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.), Flourishing: Positive psychology and the well-lived life (pp. 105-128). Washington: American Psychological Association.

Fox, K. R. (1999). The influence of physical activity on mental well-being. Public Health Nutrition, 2(3a), 411-418.

Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), 1045-1062.

Gable, S. L., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology?. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 103-110.

James, W. (1890/1923). The principles of psychology. New York: Holt.

Lyubomirsky, S., & Layous, K. (2014). The how, why, what, when, and who of happiness. In J. Gruber & J. Moscowitz (Eds.), Positive emotion: Integrating the light sides and dark sides (pp. 473-495). New York: Oxford University Press.

Maddux, J. E. (2009). Self-efficacy: The power of believing you can. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 335-343). New York: Oxford University Press.

Ouweneel, E., Le Blanc, P. M., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2013). Do-it-yourself: An online positive psychology intervention to promote positive emotions, self-efficacy, and engagement at work. Career Development International, 18(2), 173-195.

Parks, A. C., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2013). Positive interventions: Past, present and future. In T. Kashdan, & J. Ciarrochi (Eds.), Mindfulness, acceptance, and positive psychology: The seven foundations of well-being (pp. 140-165). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

Pawelski, J. O. (2005). Mitigation and construction: Toward a balanced meliorism. Unpublished manuscript, University of Pennsylvania.

Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ryan, R. M., Huta, V., & Deci, E. L. (2008). Living well: A self-determination theory perspective on eudaimonia. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(1), 139-170.

Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(4), 719-727.

Schueller, S. M. (2010). Preferences for positive psychology exercises. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(3), 192-203.

Seligman, M. E. (2002). Authentic happiness. New York: Free Press.

Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: an introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5-14.

Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410-421.

Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1999). Goal striving, need satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: the self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(3), 482-497.

Sin, N. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65(5), 467-487.

Westerhof, G. J., & Keyes, C. L. (2010). Mental illness and mental health: The two continua model across the lifespan. Journal of Adult Development, 17(2), 110-119.

Foto credit: https://unsplash.com/@laurenpengg96

Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 18/2017

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

Positive Psychology News Digest

Inc: How to Gain Strength From Your Darkest Moments (Interview with Adam Grant) by Leigh Buchanan


Inc: Pay Attention to These Surprising 6 Red Flags to Burnout. You May Be Closer Than You Think by Laura Garnett


Psychology Today: Are We Evolved for Happiness? by Glenn Geher

Psychology Today: The Problem with Measuring Happiness by Todd Kashdan


Atlantic: Why Do Americans Smile So Much by Olga Khazan


The Age: Debate on future of work needs a Focus by Alex Lavelle


Atlantic: Play Power: How to Turn Around Our Creativity Crisis by Laura Sergeant Richardson


New York Magazine: Thinking of Your Job As a Calling Isn’t Always a Good Thing by Cari Romm


New York Magazine: To Get Better at Reading People’s Feelings, Pay Attention to Your Own Body by Cari Romm


Heleo: See More, Judge Less: A Mindful Approach to Success, no author

Positive Psychology News Digest on Mappalicious | No. 14/2016

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

Center for Positive Organizations: Understanding positive business: Learning how to lead by Sue Ashford


Economist: Your employees wish you were emotionally intelligent by Natalie Baker


Center for Positive Organizations: Respectful engagement cultivates higher levels of creativity by Jane Dutton et al.


Psychology Today: The Shortcut to Finding Pleasure from Pain by Todd Kashdan


Huffington Post (Lifestyle): Simplicity, Free Time and Pursuing Your Passions by Taylor Kreiss


The Positive Organization: The Power of Self-Change via Robert Quinn


Vox: How scientists fell in and out of love with the hormone oxytocin by Brian Resnick


New York Times: The Keys to Happiness by Victoria Shannon


Forbes: Living Life With Renewed Energy: The Purpose Of Purpose by Brett Steenbarger


Huffington Post: 6 Quick Steps for Finding Your Company’s Authentic Purpose by Vic Strecher

News Digest - Mappalicious

Positive Psychology News Digest | January – March (+130 Articles)

Mappalicious_Wordle_Q1_16Just in case you´ve missed some of my weekly updates – here are all the featured Positive Psychology-related articles from January to March 2016:

Time: The Most Inspiring Way to Be Happier and More Motivated by Eric Barker


New York Times: Don’t Grade Schools on Grit by Angela Duckworth


Harvard Business Review: 28 Years of Stock Market Data Shows a Link Between Employee Satisfaction and Long-Term Value by Alex Edmans


Tech.co: Study Finds Inner Kindness Is the Key to Success, Happiness by Cameron Glover (feat. Emma Seppälä)


Psychology Today: Why Is Happiness Fleeting? by Itai Ivtzan


The Atlantic: One Simple Phrase That Turns Anxiety Into Success by Olga Khazan


The Telegraph: Mental illness mostly caused by life events not genetics, argue psychologists by Sarah Knapton


The Guardian: Three things you think will make you happier at work (but won’t) by Charlotte Seager


TLNT: Is A Happy Workplace One Of Your Core Values? by Ron Thomas


Fast Company: How To Design Happiness: Experts from Lippincott, Disney, and SoulCycle weigh in on how they craft happy experiences by Mark Wilson


Greater Good Science Center: How Happy Brains Respond to Negative Things by Summer Allen & Jeremy Adam Smith


Fortune: The Massive Difference between Negative and Positive Leadership by Bill George


Washington Post: Why smart people are better off with fewer friends by Christopher Ingraham


Psychology Today: Where does the Word “Mindfulness” come from? by Tim Lomas


Philly.com: Swarthmore colleagues, students choose to honor an expert (Barry Schwartz) on choices by Justine McDaniel


Greater Good Science Center: Why Does Happiness Inequality Matter? by Kira Newman


Huffington Post UK: World Happiness Report 2016 Update – Five Key Implications for Education by Frederika Roberts


Forbes: How To Be A Happier Human Being Even When You’re Failing by Brett Steenbarger


Time/Money: Watching cat videos at work could make you more productive by Martha White


Huffington Post: Why Governments Should Stay Out of the Happiness Business by Ruth Wippman


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


New York Times: Rethinking the Work-Life Equation by Susan Dominus


Inc: 7 things remarkably happy people do every single day by Peter Economy


Slate: A whole field of psychology research may be bunk by Daniel Engber


Brookings: Some good news for International Women’s Day: Women are (usually) happier than men by Carol Graham


Harvard Business Review: How to practice mindfulness throughout your workday by Rasmus Hougaard & Jacqueline Carter


Psychology Today: Positive Psychology: What Does “Positive” Mean? by Itai Ivtzan


Rewire Happiness: Transformative Technologies and Their Impact on Well-Being by Sophie Janicke


NPR: Is ‘Grit’ Doomed To Be The New Self-Esteem? by Anya Kamenetz


Washington Post: The worst kind of boss is not the one who’s always a jerk by Jena McGregor


Irish Times: Can you teach wellbeing? Martin Seligman thinks so by Ronan McGreevy


The Psych Report: The Paradoxes of Creativity: Sensitive Rockers, Mindful Daydreamers, and Celebrated Outcasts by Evan Nesterak


New York Times (Well): Why Doctors Care About Happiness by Danielle Ofri


Evening Standard: Older people are ‘happier in their late 60s’ by Hannah Al-Othman


PsyBlog: How To Naturally Boost The Brain Chemicals Sapped By Depression by Jeremy Dean


Quartz: Neuroscience says these five rituals will help your brain stay in peak condition by Vivian Giang


Positive Psychology News Daily: Workplace Positivity? What’s the Right Amount? And Why? by Donna Hemmert


Inc: Want to Be Truly Happy? Harvard Researchers Say This Is the One Thing You Need by Bill Murphy Jr.


Wharton Knowledge: The New Success Track: Happiness by Emma Seppälä


Huffington Post UK: It is Time to Embrace Stress as a Mental Wellbeing Issue by Simon Stevens


Greater Good Science Center: How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative by Jill Suttie


Fast Company: 7 ways turn your current job into your dream Job by Stephanie Vozza


New York Times: Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students’ Emotional Skills by Kate Zernike


Washington Post: We all know exercise makes you live longer. But this will actually get you off the Couch by David Brown


Harvard Business Review: How to Build a Culture of Originality by Adam Grant


Psychology Today: Second Wave Positive Psychology: An Introduction by Tim Lomas


Think Advisor: Advisors in Pursuit of Happiness by Olivia Mellan


Psychology Today: Being Positive: It’s Not Mindfulness, It’s Savoring by Ryan Niemiec


Psychology Today: 4 Science-Backed Tips For Achieving Your Dreams by Emma Seppälä


Psychology Today: The Hard Data on Self-Love and Why It Leads to Success by Emma Seppälä


MIT Technology Review: First Evidence for the Happiness Paradox: That Your Friends Are Happier than You Are, no author


Inc: 11 Signs You Have the Grit You Need to Succeed by Travis Bradberry


Forbes: The Surprising Power Of Appreciation At Work by Chris Cancialosi


Greater Good Science Center: Can Helping Others Help You Find Meaning in Life? by Elizabeth Hopper


New Yorker: How People Learn to Become Resilient by Maria Konnikova


Wall Street Journal: ‘Resilience’ skills help you remain positive and productive under stress by Laura Landro


Forbes: Amy Cuddy: How Leaders Can Be More Present In The Workplace by Dan Schawbel


Boston Globe: How nice bosses get ahead by Emma Seppälä


Washington Post: What people around the world mean when they say they’re happy by Ana Swanson


Psychology Today: Re-setting Your Happiness Set Point Part 1 | Part 2 by Linda and Charlie Bloom


Talent Management: 6 Resolutions for Career Happiness in 2016 by Dan Bowling


PsyBlog: 33 Surprisingly Simple Things That Make People Happiest by Jeremy Dean


NBC News: United Arab Emirates Names Official ‘Minister for Happiness’ by Alex Johnson


Scientific American: How to Be an Optimal Human by Scott Barry Kaufman


Scientific American Mind: Can Positive Thinking Be Negative? by Scott Lilienfeld


The Guardian: Banish those midlife blues – the secret to happiness starts with one small step by Tracy McVeigh


Washington Post: The end of college rankings as we know them by Jeffrey Selingo


Washington Post: A Stanford psychologist explains why spacing out and goofing off is so good for you by Emma Seppälä


Penn Current: Penn professor explores what it means to be positive by Michele Berger


Financial Times: Companies with a purpose beyond profit tend to make more money by Simon Caulkin


Greater Good Science Center: Five Ways to Put Self-Compassion into Therapy by Tim Desmond


Gizmodo: English is Surprisingly Devoid of Emotionally Positive Words by George Dvorsky


New York Times: How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off by Adam Grant


Psychology Today: Is It a Good Idea To Build on Signature Strengths? by Todd Kashdan


Scientific American: The Differences Between Happiness and Meaning in Life by Scott Barry Kaufman


Psychology Today: Can You Help Others Find Meaning In Their Work? by Michelle McQuaid


Cosmopolitan: 12 Ways to Feel Happier at Work – Yes, even at the job you hate by Judith Ohikuare


Psychology Today: The Surprising Link Between Compassion and Success by Emma Seppälä


Forbes: How To Light The Fire When You’re Burned Out by Brett Steenbarger


New York Times: You Are Stronger Than You (and Your Therapist) Think by Michael Bennett


Scientific American: The Science of Healing Thoughts by Gareth Cook


The Guardian: Is mindfulness making us ill? by Dawn Foster


Penn Current: Q&A with Scott Barry Kaufman by Lauren Hertzler


Stanford GSB: Should Employees Design Their Own Jobs? by Louise Lee


Fast Company: It takes more than just being a good person yourself to inspire ethical conduct in employees by David Mayer


Knowledge@Wharton: Why Compassion Serves You Better Than Self-interest by Emma Seppälä


Fast Company: The Surprising Link Between Compassion And Success by Emma Seppälä


Forbes: One Powerful Step That Can Turn Around Your Trading Psychology by Brett Steenbarger


Greater Good Science Center: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Kinder by Jill Suttie


Quartz: The Stanford professor who pioneered praising kids for effort says we’ve totally missed the point by Jenny Anderson


Harvard Business Review: Manage your Emotional Culture by Sigal Barsade & Olivia O’Neill


Harvard Business Review: We Learn More When We Learn Together by Jane Dutton & Emily Heaphy


New York Times: Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate by Adam Grant


Fulfillment Daily: The Surprising Benefit Of Going Through Hard Times by Carolyn Gregoire


PositiveSharing.com: The 5 most important findings from the science of happiness that apply at work by Alexander Kjerulf


Forbes: Mapping World Happiness And Conflict Through Global News And Image Mining by Kalev Leetaru


Psychology Today: The One Thing To Know About Happiness by Andrea Polard


Psychology Today: 6 Surefire Ways To Increase Your Charisma – Backed by Science by Emma Seppälä


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


New York Magazine: 3 Insights From a New Book About Creativity by Melissa Dahl


Psychology Today: 10 Questions to Help You Reflect on 2015 by Paula Davis-Laack


Harvard Business Review: Strengths-Based Coaching Can Actually Weaken You by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic


New York Times: How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity by Pagan Kennedy


Business Insider: A Harvard psychiatrist says 3 things are the secret to real happiness by Tanya Lewis


Greater Good Science Center: To Change Yourself, Change Your World by Kira Newman


Psychology Today: 3 Things Extraordinary Leaders Do by Emma Seppälä


Fulfillment Daily: The Joy of Imperfection: How Not to Drive Yourself and Others Nuts in 2016 by Mona Shah Joshi


Positive Psychology News Daily: Instead of a Resolution, Try a New Year Routine by Jan Stanley


Forbes: The Positive Psychology Of Job Interviewing by Brett Steenbarger

News Digest - Mappalicious

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

Are you ready for the 2. Wave of Positive Psychology?

I guess there ´s a heck of a lot of people out there who haven’t even heard about the first wave of Positive Psychology – and now, there´s supposed to be a second one? Yes, sir!

For quite some time now, Positive Psychology has been criticized for focusing way too much on the positive side(s) of life, while (by and large) ignoring negative phenomena – which, after all, is why Positive Psychology was founded in the first place. I feel this criticism is unwarranted pertaining to the academic/research side of things. E.g., research on Post-Traumatic Growth has always been readily embraced. But I guess in terms of marketing PP to the public, there´s more than a bit truth to this allegation.

Last year, Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener published their book The Upside of Your Dark Side, others are following suit now. There´s a very recent article on Psychology Today by Tim Lomas: Second Wave Positive Psychology: An Introduction. Here´s the central part:

Second Wave Positive Psychology is underpinned by four dialectical principles: appraisal; co-valence; complementarity; and evolution.

Appraisal means that we cannot appraise something as either positive or negative without taking context into account.

Co-valence reflects the idea that many situations and experiences comprise positive and negative elements.

Complementarity is about the idea of Ying and Yang, that positive and negative are co-creating sides of the same coin.

Evolution draws on Hegel’s notion of thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

In this case, traditional psychology can be seen as the thesis, Positive Psychology is the anti-thesis, and SWPP could evolve into a synthesis, where the truths of both thesis and antithesis are preserved, while their flaws are overcome.

Just in case you´ll find that article stimulating: it is based on an academic paper which can be found on Research Gate: Second Wave Positive Psychology: Exploring the Positive–Negative Dialectics of Wellbeing.

Another synopsis of SWPP is proposed by Paul T. P. Wong in this article: What Is Second Wave Positive Psychology and Why is it necessary?

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10 more Blogs on Positive Psychology and adjacent You Need to Know

IMG_2317A while ago, I posted a list of 10 blogs on Positive Psychology and adjacent I frequently visit. Back then, I already said it was hard to limit the selection to only 10 sites. Therefore, here´s another curated list of cool Positive Psychology blogs. Share and enjoy!

Eric Barker writes Barking Up The Wrong Tree. He brings you science-based answers and expert insight on how to be awesome at life. His content has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine.

The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley (co-founded by Professor Dacher Keltner) “studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society”. They frequently publish articles by their own staff as well as guest articles by eminent researchers.

In their own words, The Creativity Post (co-founded by Scott Barry Kaufman) is “a non-profit web platform committed to sharing the very best content on creativity, in all of its forms: from scientific discovery to philosophical debate, from entrepreneurial ventures to educational reform, from artistic expression to technological innovation – in short, to all the varieties of the human experience that creativity brings to life.”

The Center for Positive Organizations (staff includes Professors Jane Dutton, Kim Cameron, Robert Quinn, and Gretchen Spreitzer) based at the Ross School of Business (University of Michigan) seeks to “inspire and enable leaders to build high-performing organizations that bring out the best in people. We are a catalyst for the creation and growth of positive organizations.” They regularly publish articles by the aforementioned researchers and scholars in Positive Organizational Scholarship.

Paula Davis-Laack is a fellow Penn MAPP alum and writes a regular column called Pressure Proof about “strategies and stories for busy, complicated lives” on Psychology Today.

In their own words, The Pursuit of Happiness is a “group of psychologists, philosophers, educators, and web professionals dedicated to the advancement of scientific knowledge about happiness and depression prevention. We provide science-based information on life skills and habits needed to enhance well-being, build resilience against depression and anxiety, and pursue a meaningful life.” Professor Todd Kashdan is one of the contributors.

Happiness by Design is a column on Psychology Today by London School of Economics´ Professor Paul Dolan. It doesn’t update very often by the posts are cool to read.

Action for Happiness is a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. We want to see a fundamentally different way of life – where people care less about what they can get just for themselves and more about the happiness of others. Sir Richard Layard is among the founders. They publish compelling pieces by top-tier Positive Psychology researchers and experts in their news section.

To my mind, Michael Tomoff is one of the few people who write stuff worth reading on Positive Psychology in German. His blog is called Was wäre wenn? (What if?).

The last one is a sort of honorable mention. The late Professor Christopher Peterson published an immensely insightful and oftentimes very funny Positive Psychology blog via Psychology Today called The Good Life. Even though it has not been updated ever since 2012 (for obvious reasons), I revisit it frequently for inspiration.