In This Issue
1. On Dan Gilbert
1. On Dan Gilbert
Dear Coaching Toward Happiness Readers,
On June 6th we had an 80-minute question-and-answer call with Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness. He is brilliant. His work is fascinating and counterintuitive. He was one of the most engaging and articulate guests we've ever had. If you missed it, you can now hear his interview by phone at 405-244-4000, box #190. Or listen to it online.
Gilbert's work is relevant to coaching and other helping relationships. He says, among many other things, that we inevitably choose goals in order to feel valued emotional payoffs in the future.
We want to be happy and imagine that getting tenure in our University
will bring this about. In fact, over time it does not. And we unerringly,
systematically, make sugnificant mistakes in choosing these goals and
in other cognitive activities.
In July 2005, we reviewed research in the area of "affective forecasting" by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert. Affective forecasting, as you may recall, is our ability to predict (or forecast) the emotional impact of a future event. Now Dan Gilberts recently published book on the topic, Stumbling on Happiness, is getting raves everywhere from Time Magazine to the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times.
Why the media excitement? The topic is fascinating. As Gilbert observes, we humans spend much of our time working toward an imagined future. He presents research that demonstrates key systematic errors that we all make when we imagine how we'll feel about some event in the future. And he makes it clear that some of these errors are avoidable.
This is one point of a thousand he makes in the book.
Although Gilbert reviews an amazing amount of research, this book is a quick read. His writing style is very down-to-earth and funny. While reading, I found myself dog-earing pages and underlining up a storm. Below is my own Top 10 List of intriguing quotes from the book. Read them, and you may be hooked.
Until next month,
2. The Top 10 Intriguing Quotes From Stumbling on Happiness
2. Reality Distortion. "Distorted views of reality are made possible by the fact that experiences are ambiguous, that is, they can be credibly viewed in many ways, some of which are more positive than others. To ensure that our views are credible, our brain accepts what our eye sees. To ensure that our views are positive, our eye looks for what our brain wants. The conspiracy between these two servants allows us to live at the fulcrum of stark reality and comforting illusion. So what does all of this have to do with forecasting our emotional futures? As we are about to see, we may live at the fulcrum of reality and illusion, but most of us don't know our own address" (p. 171).
3. Living Now for the Future. "We treat our future selves as though they were our children, spending most of the hours of most of our days constructing tomorrows that we hope will make them happy" (p. xiii).
4. The Hedonic Treadmill. "When we have an experience -- hearing a particular sonata, making love with a particular person, watching the sun set from a particular window of a particular room -- on successive occasions, we quickly begin to adapt to it, and the experience yields less pleasure each time. Psychologists call this habituation, economists call it declining marginal utility, and the rest of us call it marriage" (p. 130).
5. Staying Present. "Not to think about the future requires that we convince our frontal lobe to do what it was designed to do, and like a heart that is told not to beat, it naturally resists that suggestion" (p. 16).
6. The Psychological Immune System. "A healthy psychological immune system strikes a balance that allows us to feel good enough to cope with our situation but bad enough to do something about it. We need to be defended -- not defenseless or defensive -- and thus our minds naturally look for the best view of things while simultaneously insisting that those views stick reasonably closely to the facts" (p. 162).
7. We're All Above Average. "...If you are like most people, then like most people, you don't know you're like most people. Science has given us a lot of facts about the average person, and one of the most reliable of these facts is that the average person doesn't see herself as average" (p. 229).
8. The Price. "The price we pay for our irresponsible explanatory urge is that we often spoil our most pleasant experiences by making good sense of them" (p. 191).
9. Learning from the Past. "To learn from experience, we must remember it, and for a variety of reasons, memory is a faithless friend" (p. 233).
10. Predicting the Future. "Imagination is the poor mans wormhole. We can't do what we'd really like to do -- namely, travel through time, pay a visit to our future selves, and see how happy those selves are -- and so we imagine the future instead of actually going there. But if we cannot travel in the dimension of time, we can travel in the dimensions of space, and the chances are pretty good that somewhere in those other three dimensions there is another human being who is actually experiencing the event that we are merely thinking about" (p. 223).
3. CTH Interviews with Dan Gilbert and Jon Haidt
Here are some additional links to related interviews and articles:
Article on Jon Haidt's new book.
Article on Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence.
Here's one on Self-Regulation
that was put together when I was in London.
4. Five Questions on Positive Psychology and Coaching
Regarding Positive Psychology and Coaching -- Looking for Your Input
A. Positive Psychology Coaching Clients
Please send us an e-mail that includes your contact information and your time zone, and tell us whether or not we might share your story with others. Send your e-mail insights to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, and label the subject line in all caps, SUBJ: PP CLIENT.
B. Criticisms of Positive Psychology
If you are basically pro-positive psychology, do you have any reservations or questions? Please e-mail us your critical comments, along with your contact info (including your time zone). Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, and label the subject line in all caps, SUBJ: PP CRITICISMS/QUIBBLES.
C. Positive Psychology in Organizations
D. Positive Psychology in Life Coaching
Could you send a short paragraph giving one or two concrete examples of your work? Please e-mail us your examples, along with your contact information (including your time zone). Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, and label the subject line in all caps, SUBJ: PP IN PERSONAL OR LIFE COACHING.
E. Positive Psychology in Other Arenas
Could you send a short paragraph giving one or two concrete examples of your use of Positive Psychology? Please e-mail us your examples, along with your contact information (including your time zone). Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, and label the subject line in all caps, SUBJ: PP IN OTHER ARENAS.
5. Training and Workshops
MentorCoach Coach Training Programs
Our 4 Summer MCP Program and Launching:
MCP 92 Thursdays
MCP 93 Fridays
MCP 94 Tuesdays
MCP 95 Wednesdays
Upcoming Coaching Workshops
Ben will be speaking on coaching and positive psychology in:
Columbus, OH (7/14/06)
For detailed information on these workshops please, click here.
Copyright 2006. Coaching Toward Happiness. All rights reserved.
All content © 2006 Ben Dean, Ph.D., MCC,
Editor, "Coaching Toward Happiness" eNewsletter
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