How do we live a life of well-being? Through pleasure seeking? According to Aristotle, we live a life of well-being through eudaimonic life. Indeed, putting more focus on the process of living well (eudaimonic approach) over the outcomes of happiness (hedonic approach) is associated with increased well-being. An eudaimonic lifestyle is marked by investment of energy on values and goals that are intrinsic to the individual (done for the interest and enjoyment that the activity provides) to that individual (Ryan, Huta, & Deci, 2008). Furthermore, individuals who have intrinsic goals are more likely to persevere in accomplishing them, thus enjoying greater well-being. Intrinsic activities are autonomous by, 2008). Furthermore, extrinsic motivation can actually weaken intrinsic motivation because it fosters the perception that the cause of the behavior is external to that individual (Brown & Ryan, 2004). The relative autonomy of goals is not only predictive of performance but well-being in general (Ryan etal, 2008). Those with intrinsic goals, 2008). Perseverance and passion for long-term goals, coined grit by Angela Duckworth, is predictive of…

Efficacy and Effectiveness

          In articles containing psychological research, one frequently comes across the notion of efficacy.  Researchers conduct laboratory studies in order to demonstrate how much a certain treatment (i.e. a drug or psychotherapy) works.  While testing for efficacy in this way can be beneficial, Martin Seligman (1995), in The effectiveness of psychotherapy, illustrates how absolute dependence on this kind of research can be flawed.  While it is essential to gather research for various kinds of therapeutic treatment, there are drawbacks to ‘efficacy studies’.  As defined by Martin Seligman (1995), an efficacy study “contrasts some kind of therapy to a comparison group under well-controlled conditions” (p. 965).  The rigorous nature of the efficacy study might make it appear to demonstrate that a specific therapy is effective, but one must be careful about equating laboratory results with what can…

Positive Interventions Part 3: Hope and Goals Intertwined

A successful positive intervention requires a merging of the essential principles of goal theory and hope theory.  A positive intervention is an intervention intended to increase well-being in either or both of the following ways: increasing well-being away from zero and/or increasing well-being by cultivating pleasant affect, strengths, and/or meaning (Pawelski, personal communication, September 7, 2008).  A positive intervention is, inherently, a goal.  Goal theory states that action is caused by an intention (Locke, 1996).  Similarly, a positive intervention is action caused by an intention.  Essential elements of hope theory are also present in a positive intervention.  According to hope theory, hope reflects people’s perceptions of their abilities to conceptualize goals, develop strategies (pathways thinking) and initiate and sustain motivation (agency thinking). (Lopez, S. J., Snyder, C. R., Magyar-Moe, J. L., Edwards, L., Pedrotti, J. T. Janowski, et al., 2004,…

Positive Interventions Part 2: The Body and Positive Psychology

“I must admit that when I began my investigation, I, in common with most people, conceived of ‘body’ and ‘mind’ as separate parts of the same organism, and consequently believed that human ills, difficulties and shortcomings could be classified as either ‘mental’ or ‘physical’ and dealt with on specifically ‘mental’ or specifically ‘physical’ lines. My practical experiences, however, led me to abandon this point of view and readers of my books will be aware the technique described in them is based on the opposite conception, namely, that it is impossible to separate ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ processes in any form of human activity.”                                                                                     F.M. Alexander   For F.M. Alexander there was no separating the body from the mind, just as there is no separating the body from the mind in positive interventions.  Our readings support this view.  Shusterman (2006) argues…

The Positive Psychology of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Part 1: How are you thinking?

Don’t listen to the critics. Sheryl Sandberg’s book is well-researched and very compelling.  I won’t go into debateing the details of the book because I’ve discovered that most people have already formed their own opinions – whether or not they have read the book.  And, as one blog has argued, that this proves Sheryl Sandberg’s point assertion that we hold women up to a higher standard than men and we tear them down when instead we should be celebrateing their accomplishments. (Not sure why opening graph is underlined.) Her Sandberg’s goal, as I read it, was to raise awareness.  And Considering the number of talk shows she landed on, she Sandberg has definitely restarted reignited the conversation.  But now we need to shift the discussion the to ‘how,’ a topic of the book that she doesn’t get to.  She Sandberg…

What is a Positive Intervention?

What is the ‘good life’ and how can human beings achieve it?  Scholars since Aristotle have been trying to answer that question.  Melchert tells us Aristotle believed virtue to be more than simple emotion.  Happiness results from virtuous actions (2002).  William James postulated that happiness results from the cultivating of proper habits through conscious attention and effort.  Furthermore, attention and effort are “two names for the same psychic fact”  (1892, p. 137).  Csikszentmihalyi focuses on the mechanics of consciousness and controlling the conscious mind in pursuit of happiness (1990).  Lastly, Pawelski integrates the philosophy of William James and current positive psychology research to explore how humans flourish and generate well-being (2003).  Based on these authors, I will argue that a positive intervention is a direct result of conscious control of attention. Aristotle argued that happiness is not possible without excellence…

Do You Have Executive Presence? by Michelle McQuaid

Do You Have Executive Presence? When you walk into a room at work are people naturally drawn to you? When you sit at a meeting table do others ask to hear your thoughts? When there’s a decision to be made do people seek our your ideas? If you’re wavering in your responses chances are you’re missing what researchers have found is an essential component to getting ahead at work … executive presence. Reported to account, on average, for 25 percent of what it takes to get promoted, understanding how to project confidence, stay poised under pressure and be authentic are clearly skills worth having. But if you’re not quite there yet, what can you do to cultivate a more positive presence at work? What Is Executive Presence? “Studies have found that in the first seven seconds of meeting you people make 11 judgements about you,” explains Shannon…

Kansas: How The Wizard of Oz Acts as a Substitute

A Study in the Signature Strengths of the Iconic Movie Wizard of Oz   “There’s no place like home, is there?” “Where’s Toto?” “I guess to get home you just click your heels three times, right?” “Well, you’re not in Kansas any MORE, are you?!”   If you have the (mis)fortune of being from Kansas this is what awaits you when you tell a new acquaintance your home state.  Frankly, it’s annoying.  It makes me resent The Wizard of Oz (LeRoy & Fleming, 1939).   And if someone doesn’t make an Oz reference in our first meeting, I instantly award them ‘friend’ status just for their self-regulation.  Not that people from Waco, TX or Roswell, NM have it that much easier.  But everyone knows and loves Dorothy and Toto.  Somehow, this Technicolor movie has become synonymous with the State of Kansas…

Job Opportunity – Coaches

At Positive Business DC, we know that we have a lot of readers that are looking for work…so we want to pass along information as we receive it. Here is one lead for you coaches out there. Cheers! The Positive Business DC Team Coaching Opportunities at BetterUp BetterUp is looking for top-notch coaches who are eager to translate their experience into part-time coaching for rising leaders. Some benefits: Impact. Rewarding client work with emerging leaders eager to make the most of their work and lives. Flexibility. Work a part time flexible schedule from your own home or office (coaching is done through video chat). Opportunity to earn $70+ / hr (depending on qualifications). No overhead. We bring you clients, automate scheduling, case management and billing. Energizing community. Paid training and ongoing support a from expert staff on the latest positive psychology…

Callings: A Win-Win for Companies and Employees

             We spend more than a third of our lives and nearly half of our waking lives at work.  While jobs take up the bulk of our lives, people approach work in distinctly different ways.  In order to understand different perspectives that workers have on their jobs, Bellah and colleagues (1985; see also Schwartz, 1986, 1994 as cited in Wrzesniewki, Rozin and Bennet, 2003) divide work in the United States into three orientations:  a job, a career and a calling.  Does having a calling at work as opposed to a job or career lead to higher productivity?  Is it possible to transform a career into a calling?  My paper will support the theory that having a calling is a means to the good life, it can lead to higher productivity, and increasing flow is one…

Sisu Not Silence

Emilia Lahti, who is gaining international attention for her efforts against abuse invites you to be part of Sisu Not Silence. What is Sisu, you ask? Sisu is a Finnish word that cannot be translated easily into the English language, loosely translated to mean stoic determination, grit, bravery, guts, resilience, perseverance and hardiness, expressing the historic self-identified Finnish national character. Sisu is about taking action against the odds and displaying courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity. Deciding on a course of action and then sticking to that decision against repeated failures is Sisu. It is similar to equanimity, with the addition of a grim quality of stress management. The pertaining adjective is sisukas, “having the quality of Sisu“. “Having guts” is a fairly literal translation, as the word derives from sisus, which means something inner or interior. One closely related concept to Sisu is grit; which shares some of its denoting elements with Sisu, save for “stress management” and passion for a long-term goal. Sisu may have an element…

Learned Helplessness at 50

If you have heard Dr. Martin Seligman speak recently, you may have been shocked to hear that he’s completely overturned his classic thinking about learned helplessness. Marty and Steve Maier have co-authored an article titled “Learned helplessness at fifty: Insights from neuroscience” published in Psychological Review. Excerpts are below, as borrowed from the Ken Pope listserv:   The July issue of *Psychological Review* includes an article: “Learned Helplessness at Fifty: Insights From Neuroscience.” PLEASE NOTE: As usual, we’ll include both the author’s email address (for requesting electronic reprints) and a link to the complete article at the end below. The authors are Steven F. Maier, Martin E. P. Seligman. Here’s an excerpt: “Although there is a long history of research investigating the controllability dimension in humans, studies using methods that allow the measurement of neural activity are quite recent and few in number. A…

Appreciative Inquiry for Kids

The 1st children’s picture book on Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is going to be released within the next year, along with a teacher guide. The book, Stan and the Four Fantastic Powers, co-authored by Shira Reicher Levy MAPP ’14, has been working on the book for the past three years. This book is the culminating project of her 2014 capstone to translate Appreciative Inquiry into child-friendly language. Readers follow Stan through an adventure to discover his Four Fantastic Powers, the authors’ take on the 4-D AI Cycle. Shira is presenting on the translation of AI at the upcoming International Positive Education Network Festival in Dallas, TX, July 2016. Follow Stan on Facebook to stay tuned for updates regarding the book release, more information about the book, and free activities to use along with the book.

Prospect Theory

Both economists and the average citizen believe that we make decisions in a rational manner.  Bernoulli, (1738/1954), presented the expected utility theory which stated that: “decision makers evaluate outcomes by the utility of wealth positions” (Kahneman, 2003, p. 704).  In fact, people make decisions for a number of reasons, most of which are not objective.  Kahneman & Tversky (2004), in disproving Bernoulli’s theory, have highlighted four aspects of the phenomenon they call prospect theory: 1) when making decisions people assess based on gains vs. losses; 2) humans experience “loss aversion”; 3) the role of framing in making decisions; and that 4) every decision is relative (Schwartz, personal communication, December 6, 2008). First, prospect theory implies that choices are always made by considering gains and losses rather than final states.  The value function shown in Kahneman’s article (2003) is defined based…

Business as an Agent of World Benefit

Dr. David Cooperrider (Case Western Reserve) has found his passion in the initiative to discover businesses who benefit others.  In his teaching at the University of Pennsylvania’s M.A.P.P. program (Master of Applied Positive Psychology) he assigned the students the task to find 10 communities or organizations who were doing good in the world.  In the hopes of inspiring our readers to find (or create) their own businesses, I include this list and corresponding descriptions.   1.         Greensburg, KS After a monster tornado devastated Greensburg, Kansas in 2008, this became the first city in the nation to pledge that all city-owned buildings larger than 4,000 square will get the highest rating of the U.S. Green Building Council, called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum. The buildings are expected to use 42% less energy than building code standards allow. There…

Dream the Impossible Dream: AI Summit – On Broadway

“A vivid imagination compels the whole body to convey it.” –Aristotle (Cooperrider, personal communication, January 9, 2009)             Artists have never been short on imagination when applying it to their art, but more than ever before the commercial theater in New York is in need of inspiration, innovation, and imagination regarding its sustainability and future.  Broadway has an economic impact of over $2 billion dollars on New York City (retrieved from http://www.allianceforarts.org/pdfs/ArtsIndustry_2007.pdf on March 18, 2009).  With the economy is serious decline, multiple shows closing and ticket prices rising even higher, Broadway must look at its sustainability for the future – creating a new audience base and exploring the possibilities of making theater more affordable while at the same time profitable as well.  I believe that an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Summit, while ambitious, is the answer to the question:  How…

Hypothesis: Strengths + Flow = Productive & Happy Employees

        In order for employees to be more productive and fulfilled at work they need to know and apply their strengths and be in the flow more often. Therefore, I argue that Peterson’s ideas about strengths and Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas about flow are directly applicable to corporate training. Identifying signature strengths and using them in new ways is a positive intervention that would be extremely effective in corporate training (Peterson et al., 2005a).  This intervention is crucial in corporate settings where frequently the deficit mode of thinking dominates.  Shifting to an abundance mode of thinking could transform both performance evaluations and the entire work experience – productivity and work satisfaction.  Being in ‘flow’ during the workday has already been shown to increase productivity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).  If employers were to combine using signature strengths with creating flow during the workday,…

Follow up to ‘Performing Your Way to Growth’ – Your Questions Answered

We had a very successful webinar with Cathy Salit on May 10, 2016. We were disappointed when we ran out of time and didn’t get to everyone’s questions. So, as promised, here is a follow up on some of the unanswered questions.  Also, if you missed the webinar, you can see the recording here. Do you have a success story to share with us from a client using your techniques? How is this all related to presence?  The story I’m thinking about appears in my book (where there are quite a few others — hint, hint). I like this one because it’s about an everyday challenge that many of us face, and it’s not about fixing something that’s broken — it’s about making a choice to grow professionally. Here goes: Natasha had recently been promoted to report directly to the…

Performing Your Way to Growth – Webinar with Cathy Salit

  We had a great time with Cathy Salit today, CEO of Performance of a Lifetime.  A powerful company with a  funny name.  As you can see from the photos, she engaged a whole class of psychology students by asking them to perform (and groan and stretch).  Their teacher wrote: Hi Cathy,     My students and I enjoyed your Webinar. ​They groaned with you, and wrote what they learned afterwards. Play and performance is so radical, when people get it, it’s life transforming. Great job. Rafael​   Cathy spoke about her book, Performance Breakthrough:  A Radical Approach to Success at Work.  Based in a field called Performative Psychology founded by Lois Holzman, Fred Newman and Ken & Mary Gergen from the Taos Institute.  As Dr. Holzman said:  ”We collectively create our lives through performance (simultaneously who we are and…