Science of Happiness Poster

Tips from the leading edge of positive psychology

by Scott Crabtree

I’m excited to share some of the amazing things I learned at the International Positive Psychology Association World Congress in Los Angeles. I presented a poster titled “Hacking Into Happiness: Habits for the Workplace.” Please click the preview image on the left to request a copy, and stay tuned for my upcoming book with a similar theme.

I felt so fortunate to be meeting and listening to some of the giants of positive psychology–the study of human flourishing. It was a dream come true for this science-of-happiness geek!

Some of the most important ideas include the following. With so much great science, I’ll only be able to very briefly summarize a few key points. For more information, I encourage you to read more by these great scholars, or contact me.

I tweeted some of these ideas from the conference. If you want to get bite-size tips on a regular basis, please follow me on Twitter. Please note that these are not quotes, but my own words summarizing what others said. Also note that some of the research and people here were mentioned by others at the conference.

  • The more someone thinks about future or past, the more meaning and less happiness they typically have. –Roy Baumeister
  • Positive emotions broaden awareness and build resources. They open and nurture our minds. They help us focus on others. –Barbara Frederickson
  • Smiles grab attention more than any other facial expression–even anger. – D. Vaughan Becker.
  • Eye contact causes facial mimicry, which builds neural synchrony. –Barbara Frederickson
  • The more positive emotion you feel, the more connected you feel to others and the better your heart health. – Barbara Frederickson
  • When people recover & refresh from work stress, they are more energetic, helpful, and perform better. –Sabine Sonnentag
  • The refreshing effects of vacation fade in less than a month, making daily recovery important. Exercise & socializing work well. –Sabine Sonnentag
  • Those who psychologically detach from work in off hours are less exhausted, happier and more satisfied with life. –Sabine Sonnentag
  • In order to stay happy, highly engaged employees need psychological detachment from work more than the average worker. –Sabine Sonnentag
  • Virtuous, positive practices in organizations positively affect turnover, customer satisfaction, & profitability. – Kim Cameron
  • Daily hassles diminish well-being more than major life events. Self affirmations based on values can help our well-being & stress response. – Allen D. Kanner
  • The future of humanity increasingly relies on our choices. –Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi
  • Those who practice gratitude end up getting more physical exercise. –Robert A Emmons

Overall, the main theme that emerged for me is that happiness can be part of a virtuous cycle. That is, happiness results in our brains working better. It leads to us connecting better to other people. It results in us taking better care of our bodies. All of which results in us being happier. I’ll take that virtuous cycle any day!

What do you think? What’s the most interesting finding to you? What would you like these brilliant scientists to study next? Please comment below or on the Happy Brain Science Facebook page.

Scott Crabtree

As the Founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happy Brain Science, Scott Crabtree empowers individuals and organizations to apply findings from cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology to boost productivity and happiness at work.

5 thoughts on “Tips from the leading edge of positive psychology

  1. Hi Scott,

    Thanks for all the great links/resources. Selfishly, I’d love these scientists to help us study the effects of passive mobile monitoring on happiness and well-being that we’re focusing on with The H(app)athon Project. I think we’ll be able to go a long way to eliminate/mitigate survey bias with the new tools/sensors available as part of mobile phones.

    John C. Havens
    Founder, The H(app)athon Project

    1. Hey John,

      Thanks for the very interesting comment. I think there’s tremendous potential in the awesome work you are doing in the H(app)athon Project and I look forward to following it.

      I’m working with others to establish an Organizations division of the International Positive Psychology Association, so I can pass along your interest when the time is right.

      All that said, I think survey bias isn’t that big a problem; see Harvard Prof. Daniel Gilbert’s work/comments on this issue for example. But still, getting data from the devices many of us are carrying can only help complete the picture.

      I look forward to staying in touch and following your progress. Thanks again.

  2. Hi Scott. Thanks for the tasty tit bits summary! I have a question that’s been troubling me and wonder if you can clarify…….in the risk tit bit from Roy B’s presentation you say that the more someone thinks about the past or future the more meaning and less happiness they experience. Usually more meaning is a fundamental partner to happiness., eg Meaning + Connection = Happiness. They aren’t usually thought of as mutually exclusive. So it has me really curious that one can be elevated and the other lowered at the same time. Can you say a little more about it please? Oh, by the way, thinking about your PPND article on The Inner CEO and Mindfulness today, I toy with the idea that living a lot of the time in the past or future takes you away from being present and mindful, thus missing out on the treats of the moment and the connection with others in the present. In itself that could lead, in time, along with other factors, to a lowering of happiness. But perhaps the reflection and making sense of the past along with planning for the future would increase Meaning. So, I’m trying to get behind Roy’s research and understand it……am I getting close? With many thanks,

    1. Hi Jo,

      Thanks for the interesting comment. This has intrigued me the most as well.

      My 2 cents: meaning is an important component of life satisfaction or “subjective well-being”. So it contributes to feeling happy. But meaning is not sufficient for happiness.

      So the guideline might be: generally focus on the present moment for increased happiness in your life. If you are feeling a lack of meaning, think about the past a future a bit more.

      I don’t claim any of the above is science, but my speculations based on science. I’d love to hear your thoughts and those from anyone else reading. I’d love to dig into Roy’s research more, but haven’t had time yet…

      (By the way, I think you mean to say “tid bits” :).

      Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate it!

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