What is happiness?

Because I’m working with a financial services client, I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of success. In America, successful accomplishments of personal goals are often tied to happiness and fulfillment. But as a recent study shows, this is not a universal concept.

Researchers found that while Americans link happiness to personal achievement, Japanese link happiness to social harmony. The same dichotomy occurs when talking about unhappiness — Americans cope through anger and aggression while Japanese cope through self-improvement.

It’s interesting to me that this one concept, happiness, is a result of two different stimuli in two different countries, and I wonder whether the expression of happiness differs as well. While working on oral care, I’d always hear that a smile is a universal symbol of happiness. Is that really true? Or does that also differ?

(via Mindhacks)

1% inspiration, 99% perspiration

When it comes to success, a high IQ is not the biggest determining factor — it’s grit.

The latest challenge for social scientists, who have spent decades developing hard research on intelligence, is understanding this vaguely defined characteristic centered around tenacity and perseverance called grit. Although IQ is somewhat correlated with achievement, not letting setbacks discourage you is what will help get you ahead.

What implications does it have when it comes to education? While the liberal arts teach us to be well-rounded individuals, achievement seems to requires single-minded goals and pursuits. Those who choose goals and stay with them fare better than those who constantly try new pursuits.

“I’d bet that there isn’t a single highly successful person who hasn’t depended on grit,” says Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who helped pioneer the study of grit. “Nobody is talented enough to not have to work hard, and that’s what grit allows you to do.”


A professor has figured out that it doesn’t really matter what you say, it’s how you say it:

The research, by Don Moore of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows that we prefer advice from a confident source, even to the point that we are willing to forgive a poor track record. Moore argues that in competitive situations, this can drive those offering advice to increasingly exaggerate how sure they are. And it spells bad news for scientists who try to be honest about gaps in their knowledge.

Which explains how some people ever get to where they are in life.

(via daring fireball)

New media vs. Old psychology


A Canadian doctor posted all ten (public domain) Rorschach plates on Wikipedia, sparking a storm of criticism from angry psychologists. Said one, “The more test materials are promulgated widely, the more possibility there is to game it.” (via NYTimes)

Ever since Watchmen was released, I think of the movie every time I hear Rorschach. Am I the only one?