Dr Tal Ben-Shahar – Harvard Open Courses 1504 – Positive Psychology 14

This session continues the topic of “stress” and how to learn toward happiness.

Successful people know “focus” in one thing at one time. In “recovery”, they understand (1) quantity affects quality. Too much of a good thing will affect us to enjoy each of the thing. (2) things that are meaningful do not always pleasurable.

To cope with procrastination, Tal gave an example of how he put himself into action. Just do it whatever you like it or not! Commit to yourself to do the things you need to do.

About perfectionism, Tal shared his own experience about seeking to understand himself. “All or nothing” is a common view in perfectionism. Like Tal, I pursued the goals that I thought would bring me a lot of happiness, and actually I started to wonder what’s meaning of the pursue, and why it seems not make me happier when I achieved it. This is again linking back to the “Rat Race”.

Courage is not about not having fear; it’s about having fear and going ahead anyway. 

Learn to fail or fail to learn, there is no other way! Tal has said it many many times in the course. He highlighted the point of “the joy of learning”. When we grow up, we forget how we learnt for instance to walk from thousand times of falling down. The worst scenario is it hurts, but I learnt and grow.

Interesting research findings:

  • 70% college students complain about their own procrastination.
  • The most successful scientists and artists have also failed the most.

People and their work:

  • Daniel Kahneman – understanding the most effective things of women during the day. Research results show that they don’t enjoy the time with their children. – to show that quantity affects quality.
  • Susan and Clyde Hendrick – stress and relationship
  • University of London – The IQ of those who try to juggle message at work fell by 10 points, the equivalent to missing a whole night’s sleep and more than double 4.4 fall after smoking marijuana. I tried to search this study in 2005 but can’t find the report. I found the resources:

Abuse of technology can reduce UK workers’ intelligence by HP
Emails ‘pose threat to IQ’ by John M. Grohol

  • Tim Kasser – time affluence and well-being
  • The procrastination research done by University of Carleton in Canada – overcoming procrastination using 5 minutes take-off. I found their website. I found the resources: Study: Procrastination makes us fat and unhappy; we won’t put off putting off and the conference 
  • Elbert Hubbard – The greatest mistake a man can make is to be afraid of making one.
  • George Elliot – no perfectionism – just do it, just act, prepare to fail.
  • Michael Jordan – failed time and time again, which is why he succeeds.
  • Amy Edmondson’s research – groups (Hackman conditions) and medical errors in hospital, learning organisations.
  • Jane Klam’s research on people who are on dieting or exercises – people who are able to persist are people who have failed on average 5 times before.

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