Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley
The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society. The Greater Good Science Center is at the forefront of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior—the science of a meaningful life. The website includes access to a free online magazine, talks, articles, and practices all aimed at building the social and emotional well-being of people, communities and society.
Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania
The mission of the Positive Psychology Center is to promote research, training, education, and the dissemination of Positive Psychology. Positive psychology is the study of strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. The website provides overviews of research on positive psychology topics as links to other relevant websites and the opportunity to participate in their research.
The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), Stanford University School of Medicine
CCARE investigates methods for cultivating compassion and promoting altruism within individuals and society through rigorous research, scientific collaborations, and academic conferences. CCARE envisions a world in which the practice of compassion is understood to be as important for health as physical exercise and a healthful diet. The website provides research, articles, videos, and a blog that shares ideas to create more compassion in our lives.
Science of Happiness
The Science of Happiness podcast is put out by the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Topics vary greatly from week-to-week and focus on research-tested strategies for a happier and more meaningful life. The host is Keltner, Ph.D., who is the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
The Danger of A Single Story – Chimamanda Adichie
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie talks of the dangers of listening to only one story. Listening to only one story limits thinking and perspective. And in this way, stories can be dehumanizing and cause misunderstanding. But when we embrace that fact that there are many truths and that our lives consist of many overlapping stories, then stories can be used to empower and humanize.
The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown
Vulnerability is essential for humans to feel love, connection, and belonging. In this TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability, University of Houston research professor, Brené Brown talks about our fear of vulnerability and how it prevents humans from meeting their fundamental need for connection and belonging. Brown has spent more than a decade studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame. She is the author of numerous books and frequently speaks about her work to audiences around the world.
This is What Makes Employees Happy at Work – Michael C. Bush
In this TED Talk, Michael C. Bush shares his insights into what makes workers unhappy -- and how companies can benefit their bottom lines by fostering satisfaction. Since 2015, Bush has expanded Great Place to Work's global mission to build a better world by helping organizations create great places to work not just for some but for all. Under his leadership, the firm has developed a higher standard of excellence that accounts for fair and equitable treatment of employees across demographic groups, as well as executive leader effectiveness, innovation and financial sustainability.
How to Turn A Group of Strangers into a Team - Amy Edmonson
Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson studies "teaming," where people come together quickly (and often temporarily) to solve new, urgent or unusual problems. Recalling stories of teamwork on the fly, such as the incredible rescue of 33 miners trapped half a mile underground in Chile in 2010, Edmondson’s TED Talk shares the elements needed to turn a group of strangers into a quick-thinking team that can nimbly respond to challenges. The best teaming occurs when situational humility (a willingness to admit that you don’t have the answers) comes together with curiosity about others’ ideas and a willingness to take risks to learn fast (also known as psychological safety).
The World Needs All Kinds of Minds - Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin is an author, animal expert and an advocate for people with autism. Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, talks about the benefits of neurodiversity in innovation, problem-solving and attending to details. Grandin’s ability to “think in pictures” enabled her to radically improve the way animals are treated in slaughterhouses.
Popular Press articles
Ludema, J., & Johnson, A. (2018, February 14). Love At Work: Here’s How to Truly Show Love to Your Colleagues This Valentine’s Day. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amberjohnson-jimludema/2018/02/14/love-at-work-heres-how-to-truly-show-love-to-your-colleagues-this-valentines-day/#ac611913b0fa
Although this article was published on Valentine’s Day, the authors make it clear that love cannot be reserved for one day a year. Love at work shows up in three ways. First as intimacy, caring about your coworkers as people. Passion is the positive energy that we bring to our work and share with others. Commitment is a dedication to the well-being of others and to shared work.
Karyn Twaronite, K. (2019, February 28). The Surprising Power of Simply Asking Coworkers How They’re Doing. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2019/02/the-surprising-power-of-simply-asking-coworkers-how-theyre-doing
This article talks about the fundamental need of human beings to belong. Fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace requires finding a way for employees to connect with one another. This can be best accomplished by encouraging employees to check in with one another. Check-ins are a way to build relationships and offer support during difficult times.
McKee, A. (2019, April 29) Keep Your Company’s Toxic Culture from Infecting Your Team. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2019/04/keep-your-companys-toxic-culture-from-infecting-your-team?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=dailyalert_not_activesubs&referral=00563&deliveryName=DM35531
Culture is a powerful driver of human behavior, especially at work. Unhealthy workplace cultures are marked by competitiveness, the need to “cover” (hiding parts of our identities in order to fit in) and pressure to overwork. Managers have the power to positively affect workplace culture and protect their teams by taking care of themselves, building good relationships (repairing those that are damaged if necessary), and being intentional about culture work.
Newman, K. (2017, September 6) How Gratitude Can Transform Your Workplace. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_can_transform_your_workplace
Gratitude at work is great for people and teams! Among its benefits are decreased stress, fewer sick days, and higher job satisfaction. Research on gratitude at work suggests that it leads to better connections among coworkers and to the work itself. Gratitude may also be the “gateway” to other prosocial behaviors that improve workplace culture and employee experience.
Delizonna, L. (2017, August 24) High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety, Here’s How to Create It. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/08/high-performing-teams-need-psychological-safety-heres-how-to-create-it
Psychological safety, resulting in the ability to take risks, is essential for trust and high performance in teams. With this kind of trust, members of teams feel safe and as a result are more open-minded, motivated, resilient, and persistent. These conditions enable divergent thinking, essential for innovation. The article provides 6 practical tips for creating psychological safety in your workplace.
Peer Reviewed Research
Rudd, M., Vohs, K.D., & Aaker, J. (2012) Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being. Psychological Science, 23 (10), 1130-1136
Awe is “a response to things perceived as vast and overwhelming that alters the way you understand the world.” In several different studies, the authors determined that a feeling of awe expands one’s sense of time, giving the perception that there is more time available. As a result of this, study participants experienced less impatience and an increased willingness to be generous with their time by volunteering. In addition, the resulting feeling of having more time available led study participants to choose experiences (such as attending a music concert) over material goods (a watch). Click here for a link to the article.
Stellar, J.E., Piff, P.K., Gordon, A., Anderson, C.L., McNeil, G.D., Keltner, D. (2018) Awe and Humility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114 (2), 258-269.
When people experience awe, there is a feeling of vastness, of being part of something greater than themselves; they are subsequently more humble. The authors define humility as a diminished sense of self, one where a person has a more accurate view of themselves and acknowledges the value and contributions of others. The authors conducted five studies that resulted in their conclusion that awe promotes humility. An awe experience not only caused people to report that they felt more humble, it also resulted in their peers perceiving them as more humble. They concluded that awe--the opposite of pride, which inflates self-concept--shifts self-perception. People experiencing awe see themselves more accurately and appreciate the value of others more.
Emmons, R. A., & Stern, R. (2013) Gratitude as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session. 69 (8), 846-855.
There are many benefits that the practice of gratitude can have on a person’s life. Feelings of gratitude stem from an awareness of the good things in one’s life and the recognition that this goodness comes from sources outside of oneself. When a person feels gratitude over time, it improves physical health (lowering blood pressure and improving immune function), boosts happiness and well-being, and promotes prosocial behavior (acts of kindness and generosity). Gratitude also mitigates risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Given that gratitude can be cultivated through specific journaling and mindfulness practices, the authors conclude that it is an effective psychotherapy treatment that promotes healing and well-being.
Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410.
Researchers tested out five “positive interventions” and their effect on individual happiness. One intervention asked study participants to write a letter of gratitude to someone who had been kind to them, but whom they had never thanked. They were then asked to deliver the letter in person. Participants saw a large increase in feelings of happiness immediately after delivering the letter. Elevated feelings of happiness lasted for about a month after delivering the letter, suggesting that this practice should be repeated on a regular basis.
Mahembe B., Engelbrecht, A.S. (2014) The Relationship Between Servant Leadership, Organisational Citizenship Behaviour and Team Effectiveness. South African Journal of Industrial Psychology. 40 (1) 1-10.
This study, done in schools, determined that there is a positive relationship between servant leadership, organizational citizenship behavior and team effectiveness. Servant leaders lead from their values and view the development of their team as their top priority, rather than focusing on the leader’s own or the organization’s goals. Many who work for servant leaders feel empowered at work and report a positive work environment. The result of this work environment is increased team effectiveness which is measured by the attainment of common goals with higher results. Organizations led by servant leaders also saw an increase in organizational citizenship. Organizational citizenship consists of a variety of dimensions including altruism, conscientiousness, sportsmanship, courtesy and civic virtue.
Pendse, M., Ruikar, S. (2013) The Relation between Happiness, Resilience and Quality of Work Life and Effectiveness of a Web-Based Intervention at Workplace. Journal of Psychosocial Research, 8 (2), 189-197.
True happiness is an ongoing human quest. The authors’ review of prior research confirmed that feelings of happiness are associated with better outcomes in work and life, with increased success. A small study, conducted in India, demonstrated that happiness is positively correlated with quality of work life and resilience, with resilience defined as being prepared to face stress at work. They conclude that “organizations can benefit by enhancing employee happiness through simple, web-based interventions” and that “happy employees would make happy organizations.”
Seppala, E., Rossomando, T., & Doty, J. R. (2013) Social Connection and Compassion: Important Predictors of Health and Well-being. Journal of Social Research, 80 (2), 411-431
literature review discusses the clearly established links between social connection, compassion and well-being in all branches of psychology. Social connection, or close relationships with others, is a basic need throughout the human lifespan. Humans benefit most from social connection with certain affective (emotional) qualities such as empathy, intimacy, and close contact. As social connection increases well-being, this in turn results in a host of benefits including positive emotions, better self-esteem, and seeing others in a more positive light. It is also associated with prosocial activity such as volunteerism and doing good for others. Social connection buffers against life “stressors” and it helps with emotional regulation. The authors perceive social connection is declining in the world. To mitigate this, they suggest that social connection should be cultivated through compassion-building practices such as loving kindness meditations.