Tag Archives: researchers

Psychological Haikus (#Psyckus)

5 months back, in a poetic mood, I had penned a few Psychological Haikus that explain or comment on the major research themes of some researchers in positive psychology and allied fields. I had hoped that the #Psycku trend would have picked up, with others pitching in, or at least I myself would have continued creating them, but alas that didn’t happen.

On 25th May, I penned the first Psycku:


This was a reference to the book ‘The Happiness Hypothesis’ by Haidt in which one claim that is made is that happiness lies in neither external circumstances, nor in trying to modify ones internal mindset, but in the subtle interaction of the two. I wholeheartedly recommend the book.

Although regular readers of The Mouse Trap, will be familiar with much of the context for each of the Psyckus , for the layman’s benefit, I am providing some context with each of the Psycku:

Smiling more often, check in that tear, is it 3:1? #Psycku #BarabaraFredrickson

The above is a friendly jibe at Barb’s work with Losada on the Positivity ratio: that is their assertion that you need 5 positive emotions for each negative emotions for flourishing in life.

Partly inherited, a small part your state in life, your happiness your responsibility? #psycku #SonjaLyubomirsky

Sonja has been at the forefront of research that claims that %0 % of happiness is under genetic control, 10 % due to external circumstances like your SES while the rest 40 % is under the control of your daily habits, activties, mindset etc.

I, me, myself, my happiness my mantra, Other people matter. period. #psycku #ChristopherPeterson

Chris Peterson is one of the founding fathers of positive psychology and co author of VIA system of classification of character strengths. One of his famous quotable quotes is ‘ other people matter.’

Hopeless and made helpless, that catastrophic failure, keep it small, cut it short. #Psycku #MartinSeligman

Martin Seligman is the other coauthor of VIA and the father of positive psychology. His early work focused on learned pessimism that he turned around to learned optimism research. In a nutshell, if you fail at something, don’t make it permanent , pervasive or personal.

I’m not so smart, so I don’t work hard, You haven’t learned to grow yet! #psycku #CarolDweck

Dweck is the force behind the growth mindset theory which says that those who have a fixed mindset think that putting in hard work reflects bad on them; those with growth mindset on the other hand belive that they havent accomplished something yet,but with hard work and right strategies, can achieve it in future.

The freedom to choose, to hone my skill, not carrots and sticks. #psycku #DeciandRyan #DanPink

Dan Pink in his book ‘Drive’ references the SDT by Deci and Ryan which says that intrinsic motivators liek autonomy, relatedness and competence are stronger drivers than money or fame etc.

Balancing right, exercising all my strength, hasn’t time stopped still? #psycku #MihalyCsikszentmihalyi

The above is a reference to the Flow sate wherein time may stop still, skill levels are balanced with challenge and one is performing at ones’s best.

The ghosts of West Point or Spelling Bee, they don’t let you rest, life more a marathon than sprint?   #psycku #AngelaDuckworth

Angela , the grit queen, has been obsessed with with the construct of grit, validating that it leads to success in as diverse environments as west point or spelling bees. The above is a friendly jibe where the sprint and marathon analogy is played with; I more align with the statement that life is a marathon, but made of smaller sprints.

Orchids or Dandelions, are you sure you’ve got that right, let all flowers bloom.  #psycku #ScottBarryKaufman

One area of Scott’s research and advocacy has focused has focused on the notion of personal intelligence, which grants each person a right and opportunity to flower in his unique way. The reference to Orchid and Dandelions is to another theory by Jay Blesky et al that says that some children are quite sensitive like the orchid and require extra care but also give the best outcomes.

Down in the trenches, and on the highest rung too, givers beat takers. #psycku #AdamGrant

Adam Grant’s book ‘Give and take’ is another one of my favorites. The main premise and conclusion of the book is that Givers not only are found at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy (because they get taken advantage of)  but are also found at the top. (aside: Adam Grant actually liked this tweet:-)

Will asking the right questions, be the philosopher’s stone, lead to a positive core? #psycku #DavidCooperrider

David is the co-creator of Appreciative Inquiry method of leading change in organizations. The basic premise is that the questions you ask are very powerful and that intervention starts the moment you start asking questions.  One of the stages in AI involves finding the positive core of strengths and qualities from shared stories and best practices.

Expertise won hard, oh the lure of genius, another 10,000 hrs? #psycku #AndersEricsoon

10,000 hours of practice has been popularized by Gladwell, but the actual research is by Ericsson who has written a book too on the same titled ‘Peak’. Also important to note that subsequent research has found that 10,000 hours for initial expertise and another 10,000 hours (on average) to reach a genius level.

Resisting that cookie, I become depleted and worn out, glucose- my savior? #Psycku #RoyBaumeister

Baumeister is at the forefront on research on willpower and one of his research track shows that when people resist temptations (like not eating a cookie), their willpower on other unrelated tasks may get depleted and this is actually due to shortage of glucose in brain and can be reversed by drinking glucose!

Poems give solace, my body could use some bread, oh the tyranny of needs! #psycku #AbrahamMaslow

Maslow had famously come up with his hierarchy of needs that says that you need to fulfill lower level needs like the need to feed yourself before you can aspire to fulfill higher needs like that of self actualization.  Thsi Psycku reminds me of a hindi movie song: Ek Bagal main Chand hoga, Ek bagal main rotiya !

Stripped out of your last, what no one can take, is your attitude to life. #psycku #ViktorFrankl

Victor Frankl wrote ‘Man’s search for meaning’ a book about his experience in Auschwitz, and how he worked on his logo therapy during Holocaust.

Lego toys get me money, dismantle them later, don’t shred my meaning. #psycku #DanAriely

Dan Ariely conducted this famous experiment where people made Lego toys that were either dismantled right in front of them (a meaningless sysiphian condition) or dismantled later and found that when the activity became meaningless people did not want to do it, even in exchange for money. In a related experiment people filled a sheet with answers and the answers were either acknowledged, ignored or actively destroyed (shredded) : again ignoring or shredding caused a dip in motivation.

Indomitable will, a singular goal, multiple pathways. #psycku #CharlesSnyder

Snyder’s Hope theory talks about Agency and Pathways to achieve a clearly defined Goal. Its a very powerful theory and I use it in my work with students.

Focus on strengths, reap exponential dividends,  Achilles my foot! #psycku #MarcusBuckingham

Marcus is one of the very strong proponent of strength based development; he does caution that you need to manage your weaknesses, but anyway!

Defenses lowered, hysterical misery vents, into common unhappiness. #psycku #SigmundFreud

Freud’s famous statement that we can only hope to convert hysterical misery to common happiness (I actually meant common unhappiness only, but maybe by Freudian slip, mistyped in the tweet)

Pine for the moon, or put the sixpence in pocket, let your goals reflect you. #psycku #KenSheldon

Self-concordance between goals , as emphasized by among others, Sheldon.

Basic needs thwarted, consumption on rise, are depression and anxiety our fate? #psycku #TimKasser

Tirade against Materialism by Kasser who has shown that such striving is assocuted with worse outocmes. This is something we all need to understand. Content of our goals matters too.


Freedom terrifies, can you live up to the task, Man giving birth to himself. #psycku #ErichFromm

Fromm, on how we escape from freedom and what the main task of a person is.

Should I live this absurd life, the philosophical question par excellence, asks Sisyphus happily. #psycku #AlbertCamus

Camus and the Myth of Sisyphus.His treatise on the only philosophical question worth asking: way should I not commit suicide.

Bombastic and loud, they hog all the light, I usher a quiet revolution. #psycku #SusanCain

Susan and her powerful quiet revolution. Her book extols the differences and strengths of introverts.

Fight and make up, but don’t show contempt, and live happily ever after. #Psycku #JonGottman

Gottman lab has done some phenomenal work on predicting divorce from witnessing small slices of interactions between couples; if you want  a happily married life, have 5 positive interactions to every negative interaction and don’t show contempt.

Measuring the ebb and flow of emotions, you are given a simple choice, would you live this life again? #Psycku #EdDiener

Satisfaction with Life survey as created by Ed has one of the item as whether a person would chose to live the same life again.  Ed Diener pioneered the science of measuring happiness which he segmented as having positive affect, lack of negative affect and satisfaction with life.

Money does buy happiness, spend on experiences not things, better spent on others. #psycku #DunnandNorton

Dunn and Norton have written a book called ‘Happy Money’ that lists various tips and tricks to become happier by using money wisely.

What did I give, What did I receive, feeling thankful for Naikan. #Psycku #RobertEmmons

Bob Emmons is known for his work on gratitude. Naikan is a Japanese thankfulness mediation.

I got my dream job! Oh! Not another relocation!! that’s neither active nor constructive. #psycku #ShellyGable

Shelly had done a lot of work on active constructive responding which says that we shoudl not tke for granted how we respond to good news from our partners but should be more conscious and appreciative.

More creative and kind, want the doctor to treat you right, take some candy with you. #Psycku #AliceIsen

Isen, in clever experiments has shown that happiness increases creativity. as well as kindness. In one experiment, just gifting a candy to doctor before the patient visit , increased diagnosis accuracy.

Lowly toilet cleaner, or custodian of health, ain’t I called to work? #psycku #AmyWrzesniewski

Amys’s work has showed that you can craft your work and derive meaning out of even ordinary work. Her distinctions between job orientation, career orientation and calling orientation to work are very powerful.

My earnings, my grades, my future, my dates, oh the forsaken Marshmallow! #Psycku #WalterMischel

Mischel’s famous marshmallow experiment showed that a lot of adult life outcome scan be predicted by whether and fir how long a child of 4 years of age resisted eating one marshmallow in the expectancy of getting two if he waited.

Take a copy of that Monet, The fine print says you cant return, you’re much happy for it!

Gilbert, who is famous for his book ‘Stumbling on happiness’ tells about experiments that show endowment effect,  that is when you own something , you value it more, and so you are more happier with having it instead of an equivalent item.

Six choices are fine, twenty-four too many, isn’t it a jam?

Sometime too many choices also lead to sub-optimal happiness. In a famous experiment conducted regarding taste sampling fo ether 6 jams or 24, 6 jams were correlated with better user experience and buying behavior.

Gather all the data you can, analyze carefully the pros and cons, but for happiness – just satisfice!

Barry Schwartz has written about the paradox of choice and how some of us are maximizers, trying to find the optimum solution or product,  while others satisfied and go with the first alternative that satisfies their requirements.


These are all the #Psyckus I had written then, but I promise to write more and I hope you will join me and be co-conspirators in this Pscyku movement!