by Christopher Peterson Ph.D.
When positive psychologists advocate a strengths-based approach, I hear it as an important correction to decades of interventions (in clinics, schools, and workplaces) that focused on problems and their remediation. I do not hear it as advice to ignore weaknesses and problems or as an assertion that change is only possible if a person is already skilled at something. Somehow this completely reasonable advice has been morphed into the completely unreasonable proposal that only strengths matter, and I have been asked repeatedly about the evidence in favor of addressing only one's strengths if one wishes to achieve a good life.
We don't need studies to refute the claim that only strengths matter, just common sense. Regardless of what they do especially well, workers need to have the "strength" of showing up on time, and they need to have the "strength" of being minimally civil to their coworkers. And so on.
by Marcel Schwantes
So much has been written about the burgeoning happiness movement. While combing through my own research and notes on what happy and successful people do, it struck me how intentional they are about choosing the right mindset to become happier and more optimistic.
While countless books have been written on happiness, I'm narrowing this article down to a working template for living life to the fullest.
Here are seven sure signs of the happiest people.
1. They choose to have healthy relationships.
I've learned to be picky over the years about whom I let into my inner circle of friends. Why? Because I believe close relationships are the key to sustaining happiness.
One profound longitudinal study proves this. For 80 years, researchers followed 268 men who entered Harvard in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age.
Scientists seek to quantify everything—even the ineffable. And so the human search for meaning recently took a physical turn as Columbia and Yale University researchers isolated the place in our brains that processes spiritual experiences.
In a new study, published in Cerebral Cortex (paywall) on May 29, neuroscientists explain how they generated “personally relevant” spiritual experiences in a diverse group of subjects and scanned their brains while these experiences were happening. The results indicate that there is a “neurobiological home” for spirituality. When we feel a sense of connection with something greater than the self—whether transcendence involves communion with God, nature, or humanity—a certain part of the brain appears to activate.
The study suggests that there is universal, cognitive basis for spirituality, as opposed to a cultural grounding for such states. This new discovery, researchers say, could help improve mental health treatment down the line.
by Zat Rana
Before dying at the age of 39, Blaise Pascal made huge contributions to both physics and mathematics, notably in fluids, geometry, and probability.
This work, however, would influence more than just the realm of the natural sciences. Many fields that we now classify under the heading of social science did, in fact, also grow out of the foundation he helped lay.
Interestingly enough, much of this was done in his teen years, with some of it coming in his twenties. As an adult, inspired by a religious experience, he actually started to move towards philosophy and theology.
Right before his death, he was hashing out fragments of private thoughts that would later be released as a collection by the name of Pensées.
While the book is mostly a mathematician’s case for choosing a life of faith and belief, the more curious thing about it is its clear and lucid ruminations on what it means to be human. It’s a blueprint of our psychology long before psychology was deemed a formal discipline.
There is enough thought-provoking material in it to quote, and it attacks human nature from a variety of different angles, but one of its most famous thoughts aptly sums up the core of his argument:
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
by Marcel Schwantes
Anger is one powerful human emotion. It is also a very normal human emotion that needs to be expressed in a healthy way. But there's a place and time for appropriate anger, and we all have to learn how to manage it before it escalates.
That takes emotional intelligence -- the ability to exercise self-awareness to understand the situation from multiple angles and self-control to see things through other filters before pulling the anger-trigger.
When anger comes knocking, and it will, we have to know how to deal with it appropriately. If mismanaged, it can take down company morale and sabotage your ability to lead and collaborate well.
Here are six habits of people that manage theirs remarkably well.
By Adam Schorr
Consider a married couple. He’s spent the last 20 years working on himself. Learning, exploring, discovering. Changing. So has she. Each has been on a journey of enlightenment to become a better person. And they are, in fact, both of them, wonderful people. But they’ve each been on their own journey, and now, while each is one with the universe, they’re not in the same universe. They have nothing left in common. He doesn’t fit in her world. And she doesn’t fit in his.
This scenario came to mind recently during a conversation with a financial services executive I advise. He is interested in becoming a more creative leader. And it occurred to me that there are really two dimensions to this challenge. Or any leadership challenge.
There’s the internal work of improving yourself. But in parallel, there must also be the work of engaging your team. When you work on yourself but not on your team, two unintended consequences can unfold.
By Carol Tuttle
Overwhelmed, scattered, totally worn out. Does that ever sound like you? Even though you’re committed to work-life balance, sometimes equilibrium isn’t as easy to find as you’d like.
Most advice suggests that you set boundaries, manage time better, and practice self-care. Yes, those are important. But if you’re juggling a hundred balls, you need an overall strategy to calm things down — not just tactics that give you more to do.
Consider the possibility that you can have work-life balance with a simpler (and even counterintuitive) approach.
Where your balance (and imbalance) actually comes from
It’s easy to look at your emails, phone calls, meetings and to-do’s and believe that they are the problem. Everything coming at you is just too much!
by Suzie Doscher, Executive and Life Coach, Zurich, Switzerland
In the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of a “control freak” is “a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.” The Merriam Webster dictionary says that a control freak is “a person whose behavior indicates a powerful need to control people or circumstances in everyday matters.” One way or another, control freaks are not always easy to be around.
I understand this personality trait could stem from a chaotic childhood. Such experiences can make it hard for people to trust others or relinquish control to others. The fear of falling apart pushes them to control what they can. As their emotions are all over the place, they feel loss of control. For this reason, control freaks will micromanage whatever they can with the belief that this makes them strong. People who feel out of control tend to become controllers.
By Marcel Schwantes
Does a high IQ contribute to success? Certainly. But not without hard work, experimentation, failing forward, and an undying devotion to self-improvement.
Take Elon Musk, one of the smartest people on the planet. The driving force behind Tesla, SpaceX, and OpenAI is never satisfied with where he is, and he knows that there's always room for improvement -- whatever the challenge he's tackling at the moment. But he takes the cake with this quote from a 2014 interview:
You should take the approach that you're wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.
To Musk, being wrong (and failing) is always an option because if you're not, he says, you're not innovating enough.
This is what we call a growth mindset -- the ability to fail, learn something new, and then approach the problem from a different angle until you find a solution that works.
In an evening of viewing art and intellectual pursuits,