Positive Psychology News Digest | No. 07/2017


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

New York Magazine: Rich People Literally See the World Differently by Drake Baer

American Management Association: Developing GRIT: How To Build Your Optimism And Drive Toward Success by Thomas Boyce

Fast Company: A Psychologist Finally Explains Why You Hate Teamwork So Much by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Harvard Business Review: If You Want to Motivate Employees, Stop Trusting Your Instincts by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic & Lewis Garrad

Harvard Business Review: Being Engaged at Work Is Not the Same as Being Productive by Ryan Fuller & Nina Shikaloff

New York Magazine: A Strategy for Making Decisions You Won’t Regret by Cari Romm

New York Magazine: This Study on Altruistic Toddlers Will Make You Feel Better About the World by Cari Romm

Huffington Post: Healing Spaces: Expressing Values vs Being Political at Work by Chris White

Heleo: Embrace Authenticity: How to Break Free from the Tyranny of Positivity, no author

Knowledge@Wharton: You’re Happy and You Know It — Why You Probably Shouldn’t Show It, no author

In German

Capital: Zufriedenheit kann man lernen by Christina Berndt

Finally, it´s here: Adam Grant´s TED talk on Creativity and Innovation

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant (here´s an interview he recently gave for Mappalicious…) studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”

While this is Adam´s first TED talk, he´s given two TEDx talks in the past:

Share and enjoy!

3 “Original” Questions for Wharton´s Adam Grant

Adam Grant is a professor at Wharton Business School and also teaches in the Master of Positive Psychology program at Penn. His new book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World has recently been published. It´s about creativity and how we all can bring daring ideas to life.


Adam_Grant_Quote_1Adam, you’re a scientist. According to philosopher Thomas Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shifts it’s particularly tough to be original in this domain because your own community might be incentivized to hold bold ideas down. What’s your (give and) take on this?

When I first read Kuhn as a freshman in college, I was stunned by his argument that major scientific advances don’t take hold until a generation of old scientists clinging to old theories literally dies out. At the time, I believed him, but now I think he was only partially right. In many scientific fields, it’s extremely difficult to publish work that doesn’t challenge the status quo. We want to discover new knowledge, not replicate existing knowledge. There may be a small group of gatekeepers who are invested in their pet theories, but the larger scientific community favors fresh insights. Why, then, do so many scientists face opposition to their oppositional ideas? Building on what I wrote in chapter 2 of Originals, my bet is that it’s less about incentives and more about cognitive entrenchment: scientists become so convinced of prevailing theories that they literally have a hard time seeing alternative possibilities. Look at Einstein: after ushering in his revolutionary ideas about relativity, he resisted the quantum revolution in physics. “To punish me for my contempt for authority,” Einstein reflected, “fate made me an authority myself.”

Adam Grant - OriginalsCultures may vary significantly as to the extent they value non-conformism and standing out. I´m German – we´re a decidedly Western society but still, I feel, the general public adheres to “being sensible and staying with the flock”. What´s your advice here for the “dreamers and the doers”?

The more a culture values conformity, the more important it becomes to master the art of tempered radicalism.

First, make your unfamiliar ideas more familiar by connecting them to things that people already understand – like pitching The Lion King as “Hamlet with lions” or Warby Parker as “We’re going to do for glasses what Zappos did for shoes.”
Second, instead of trying to convince other people to change their values, show them how your idea appeals to values they already hold.
Third, reframe following you as an act of conformity by leveraging the power of social proof: show them that other people like them are already on board with your idea.
And fourth, don’t forget that there’s often more variance within cultures as between them. Find the bright spots, as Chip and Dan Heath say in Switch.  Then, to borrow a term from Jane Dutton, build a micro-community of people who embrace originality.

Adam Grant - QuoteFrom the author´s perspective: What´s the most original chapter in “Originals” – and why?

In form, I think chapter 3 is the most original. I had great fun building in a surprise that I will not spoil here. In content, I’d say the most contrarian ideas are in chapter 5, where I argue that common goals drive groups apart instead of binding them together (this helps to explain why vegans hate vegetarians even more than they dislike meat eaters) and revealing your purpose can make you less persuasive (this is why Elon Musk didn’t start SpaceX by telling people he wanted to go to Mars).


Thanks a lot, Adam – and best of luck with your new book!

Positive Psychology News Digest on Mappalicious | No. 9/16

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

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


Positive Psychology News Digest on Mappalicious | No. 4/16

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

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

Positive Psychology | News Digest | Mappalicious

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…