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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Happiness: Post #8

Final Words: Positive psychology and its derivative, happiness research, are still the new kids on the block. For many years, researchers studied depression, anxiety, and anger, hoping for insights. Positive psychology, born in 1998, ushered in researchers looking for happiness and positivity and what makes people feel both. Turning psychology on its head has resulted in fascinating studies and findings that we all can benefit from. And Ed Diener and his son Robert have been about this worthy pursuit.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Happiness: Post #7 - The Recipe for Happiness

The Happiness Recipe: Have important goals and values. Do things that have meaning, not just fun stuff (but fun’s good too!). Strive for strong, supportive relationships—people need to love and be loved. Material sufficiency—be satisfied with the possessions you have and avoid materialism or happiness becomes elusive. Cultivate spiritual emotions—developing a sense of gratitude and compassion for people and things around us makes a huge difference in how we view the world. Temperament—while we do inherit a level of happiness, we also control a large amount ourselves (40%). AIM your mind: What you pay attention to, how you interpret what happens to you, and how you remember a life event make the difference in positive vs. negative mindsets.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happiness: Post #6 - Take A.I.M.

AIM—Attention, Interpretation, and Memory: The Dieners’ formula for developing a positive mindset is AIM: Pay attention to the blessings around you, be open to positive interpretation of events, and savor the good memories. Avoid ruminating about bad memories. Rather, savor the good ones to find your way toward happiness. Attention: often we suffer from “change blindness”—when we’re focused on bad things we miss the good ones. The opposite is fortunately true as well. Interpretation is about how we see the world. Do we see it full of threats or opportunities? Such views determine our attitude toward life. Some thinking pitfalls of pessimists: Awfulizing (worst case view); distress intolerance (avoiding distress); learned helplessness (why bother); perfectionism (make small things big); rejection goggles (seeing rejection everywhere). Memory is about recognizing, focusing and reminiscing or savoring the past positive experiences in your life. Just as ruminating about negative events can plague you, savoring can provide regular injections of happiness.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Happiness: Post #5 - Money

Happiness and Money: While there’s been research to suggest that money makes little difference if you’re a middle class earner, Diener reports a German study that shows that happiness seems to increase with more money but with some important caveats. Your attitude toward money makes the difference. Rich folks spending beyond their means actually can feel poor.  And less affluent people staying in a budget often feel well off. Materialists are far less satisfied than people who value friendships, love and worthy pursuits. Some theorists suggest that spending money on experiences (memorable vacations with the family) rather than on  “things” like expensive cars or clothes will lead to better feelings of happiness. Finally, I quote the authors: “It’s important not only to spend money wisely but also to earn it wisely as well.” Great advice.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Happiness: Post#4 - At Work

Happiness at Work: Yale researcher Amy Wrzesniewski found that people view their work three distinctly different ways. First, some people view their work as a job: Leisure time is more important to them; money is a strong motivator; they watch the clock and look forward to the end of the workday; they would not recommend their job to another; and, they work to the rule—do what they’re told. Second, others view their work as a career: They look at the calendar, not the clock—plotting out their career path; they may enjoy their work; they are motivated by advancement; they try to impress their bosses; and they may recommend their company to others. Third, others (about 1/3 of the workers) see their work as a “calling”—that is, important work that makes a difference in the world. These folks love their work; think about work when not at work; would recommend their company to a friend; work hard because the job is rewarding; and don’t really see their work as a task. “Job Crafting” is a characteristic of “calling” folks…they take initiative to change their jobs, even in small ways, to suit their strengths and values. Finally, you may be a CEO working at a “job” or working as a janitor in a “calling”…it’s all in your attitude toward your work.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happiness: Post #3 - Love

Love: We all need the love and support of family, friends, and colleagues. In a decades-long Harvard Man Study, George Vaillant proved that men who were in loving relationships lived longer and were happier. Other interesting data shows that falling in love and getting married can boost happiness for a couple of years, then it tapers off. If you have children, the first child makes women happier, not men. Additional children lower the happiness of both parents. And marital satisfaction and happiness hit a low during the teenage years of their children. No surprise from anyone who ever has been on that teenager sleigh ride! Note: Having family and social relationships beats the alternative of being lonely—a state that produces many unhealthy results.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happiness: Post #2 - Psychological Wealth

Psychological wealth: The authors explain it as: “Life satisfaction and happiness; spirituality and meaning in life; positive attitudes and emotions; loving social relationships; engaging activities and work; values and life goals to achieve them; physical and mental health; and material sufficiency to meet our needs.” Happiness is not a destination but the journey, a way of approaching life. And we want to go on that journey because happiness research reveals that happy people live longer, marry and stay married longer, have less illness, commit fewer crimes, work harder and smarter, are more creative and make more money—to mention only a few in a long list. In a now famous “nun study,” researcher Deborah Danner and her team discovered the biographies written when now aged nuns were new recruits (novitiates) to the order. Qualitative content analysis studies of those bios proved most instructive. For example, of the nuns in the study considered to be the “least happy” nuns, only 18% were still alive at 93.  Whereas, of the nuns considered to be the “most happy,” fully 52% were still happy and praying at 93! Nuns who wrote happier bios MANY years before lived longer, happier lives.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happiness: Post #1--Overview

Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth by Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener (Blackwell, 2008). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., July 2012.

 Overview: Beginning in 1998, the study of positive psychology is a relatively new phenomenon in the annals of psychology. Ed Diener remains a leader in this field of study and specifically happiness, and his son Robert appears to be part of a happiness research succession plan! Ed and Robert explore the current happiness research, which at times contradicts earlier research in the field—which is why research is a constant pursuit. Their insights are powerful and instructive. For example, they posit their AIM theory (Attention-Interpretation-Memory), which provides a simple but powerful lesson in positivity and happiness augmentation. The authors present a simple recipe for happiness: A life full of love—with others, friends and colleagues; with work, being engaged in what you love to do every day; and, with experiences, activities, and life in general.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

No Asshole Rule: Post# 8 - Final Words of Wisdom

Final words about jerks. First, Jerks R Us…before pointing the finger around you, point it at yourself. Where, when and how have you bullied, intimidated or otherwise been a jerk? Probably far more than you know. The author provides some documentation about this delusion. If you’re a jerk, people don’t tell you what they really think. This robs you of reality. They only bring you news you can handle. This robs you of truth. Good people avoid working for you and the good ones who do work for you leave first. This robs you of the capacity to prosper. As your enemies grow in number, you’re robbed of your influence, no matter how smart or capable you are. If you’re a jerk, the way your story ends is ultimately one of delusion, loneliness and sadness. Not exactly the “happy ending” most of us want in life.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

No Asshole Rule: Post# 7 - Surviving Them

More on surviving jerks: Reframing how things appear to us changes the effect that jerks have on us. In other words, reframing reduces the negative effects of these people. More specifically, when we practice what psychologist Martin Linsky calls “learned optimism,” we’re better equipped to cope with bad things like jerks at work. According to Linsky, if we’re optimistic, we learn how to view setbacks as temporary and recovery as within our control. But pessimists see setbacks as permanent. Instead of blaming yourself, understand that it’s not your fault if someone’s a jerk. Keeping expectations of jerks low also helps you from expecting more than they can ever deliver. When you work for a jerk, limit your exposure to them, detach emotionally from them, and don’t expect to get psychic income from your interactions. Take up a great hobby or do whatever you can to avoid the jerk and the conditions s/he’s created for you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

No Asshole Rule: Post #6 - Avoiding Them

How to Avoid Jerk Poisoning: Best advice is to not join organizations or relationships with jerks in the first place. Sutton quotes Leonardo da Vinci: “It’s easier to resist in the beginning than at the end”—sound social science. In fact, when people invest a lot of time and energy, it gets harder to leave even an abusive relationship. Tough to rationalize, but true. Before taking a new job, do a job shadowing as a way to catch the culture. If you see signs of jerkdom, stay away. Avoid seeing coworkers as competitors or enemies, lest you set up a poisonous dynamic between you and them. Finally, just stay away from meeting with them, asking them questions or otherwise engaging with them. Note: See the Self-Test to see if you are a jerk on pp. 121-3…as funny as it is telling!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

No Asshole Rule: Post #5 - Self Control

Self Control…Taming your Inner Jerk: All of us are temporary jerks at one time or another, especially under time and task pressure. The key is to recognize it and respond to it and to realize that anger, anxiety, depression, and contempt are highly contagious in the workplace. If you view your contempt, as an example, as a contagious disease, it might help you regulate your behavior. Experiments show that people who join such toxic organizations start to act like their jerk bosses. The Arabic proverb applies: “A wise man associating with the vicious becomes an idiot.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

No Asshole Rule: Post #4 - How to Fight Back

Teach people how to fight: In no jerk workplaces, companies teach their folks how to fight fairly. Called “constructive confrontation” at Intel, people are taught how to fight back rather than simply accepting abuse from loudmouth jerks. Sutton instructs that we should focus on gathering data, listening to others, and even when we disagree, committing to find agreement. Here’s some great advice from U. of Michigan professor Karl Weik: “Fight as if you’re right; listen as if you are wrong.” On the other hand, he quotes Intel’s doctrine: “The only thing worse than too much confrontation is no confrontation at all.” Destructive confrontation is emotional, personal and relationship focused. Constructive confrontation focuses on the issue, even the argument’s logic…but never the person or her/his character. Read the Top Ten Steps for enforcing the no “jerk” rule: pp. 87-89.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

No Asshole Rule: Post#3 -Enforcement

Enforcing the “No Asshole Rule.” Every organization can be susceptible to jerks. Sports teams are certainly no exception. Former basketball coach Bobby Knight and football player Terrell Owens are perfect examples of what jerks in sports look like. Amazing talent that gets trumped by bad behavior. I like Google’s cardinal rule: “Don’t be evil.” Now, there are temporary as well as certified jerks. Temporary jerks recognize when they’ve done wrong, correct it, and apologize. Certified jerks either seem to revel in or are oblivious to the effect of their behaviors. Thus, the author suggests a no-jerk workplace and a no-jerk hiring policy. He uses IDEO as a model…using 360 interviews, keeping jerks off of the hiring panel, and moving jerks out of the organization ASAP.

Friday, July 6, 2012

No Asshole Rule: Post#2 -Abuse at Work

Mistreatment and abuse in the workplace is commonplace and rampant. As an example of abuse, consider the following: 90% of nurses claim abuse by doctors; 27% of Michigan residents claim abuse at work, and at the Veterans Administration, 36% of employees complained of abuse by coworkers or managers. Moreover, 73% of witnesses of such bullying and mistreatment suffer stress themselves. The telltale hallmarks of teams and organizations led by jerks are fear, loathing, and retaliation. Not exactly a work setting conducive to productivity, as opposed to one that is “psychologically safe.”  The total cost of increased absenteeism, lack of productivity and employee turnover is astronomical. For example, 25% of abused or bullied employees exit companies, and 20% of witnesses of bullying leave. See p. 48-50 for the true impact of jerks in your organization.

Monday, July 2, 2012

No Asshole Rule: Post#1 - Overview

The No Asshole Rule (Business Plus, 2007) by Robert Sutton, Ph.D., and reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D. in June 2012--Watch for postings over the next two weeks.

Overview: We’ve all experienced domineering bosses, obnoxious peers and even direct reports who we enjoyed far more when they were on vacation or sick leave! Bob Sutton of Stanford calls them assholes, which I refer to as “jerks,” despite acknowledging the preciseness of Bob’s description. Jerks cause lower productivity, infighting, humiliation, stonewalling, and defensiveness. They can dominate some cultures, and if you let them in your house, batten down the hatches because they bring in drama and pain. Sutton provides a self-test to assess whether or not you’re a “jerk,” which can be instructive and at the same time humbling—at least when you think about things you may have done in the past—even as a temporary jerk, let alone a certified one! This book is well worth the read if it can simply help you from hiring a single jerk or help you push one out the door.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Investor's B.D. Top Ten: # 10

Investor’s Business Daily has spent years analyzing leaders and successful people
in all walks of life. Most have 10 traits that when combined, can turn dreams into reality.

10.BE HONEST AND DEPENDABLE; TAKE RESPONSIBILITY:Otherwise, Numbers 1-9 won’t matter.

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