Project U. Blog

A Positive Outlook Offers Real Benefits

Posted by Catherine Saar on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 @ 02:33 PM

It's not hogwash.  There is proof that a positive outlook pays off.  To that end, I loved this list of documented positivity benefits by Jon Gordon, author and coach from his latest newsletter. Find out more about Jon and  his many offerings (including a free tele-seminar) at his site

11 Benefits of Being Positive

By Jon Gordon

Over the years I've done a lot of research on the positive effects of being positive and the negative effects of being negative. The research is clear. It really does pay to be positive and the benefits include enhanced health and longevity, happiness, career advancement, athletic performance, team building and financial success. Being positive is not just a nice way to live. It’s the way to live. In this spirit, here are 11 benefits of being positive.

1. Positive People Live Longer - In a study of nuns, those that regularly expressed positive emotions lived on average 10 years longer. (The Nun Study)

2. Positive work environments outperform negative work environments. (Daniel Goleman)

3. Positive, optimistic sales people sell more than pessimistic sales people. (Martin Seligman)

4. Positive leaders are able to make better decisions under pressure. (

5. Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions whereas when the ratio approaches 1 to 1, marriages are more likely to end in divorce. (John Gottman)

6. Positive people who regularly express positive emotions are more resilient when facing stress, challenges and adversity. (Several Studies)

7. Positive people are able to maintain a broader perspective and see the big picture which helps them identify solutions where as negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems. (Barbara Fredrickson)

8. Positive thoughts and emotions counter the negative effects of stress. For example, you can't be thankful and stressed at the same time. (Several Studies)

9. Positive emotions such as gratitude and appreciation help athletes perform at a higher level. (

10. Positive people have more friends which is a key factor of happiness and longevity. (Robert D. Putnam)

11. Positive and popular leaders are more likely to garner the support of others and receive pay raises and promotions and achieve greater success in the workplace. (Tim Sanders)

Visit Jon's site for more insights and goodies.  BTW, I found item 8, "Positive thoughts and emotions counter the negative effects of stress", the most useful reminder for mastering everyday living.  What resonated for you?

Tags: career, Jon Gordon, appreciation, optimistic, gratitude, longevity, better decisions, athletic performance, coach, stress, postitive thoughts, leaders, work environments, success in the workplace, benefits, happiness

The Secret to Having Enough Time

Posted by Catherine Saar on Mon, Apr 02, 2012 @ 11:06 PM

stopwatchiStock 000013901118XSmallTime crunched?  I love the solution reported by columnist Gareth Cook in a Boston Globe article called "Getting It All Done."  Check it out - I pasted it here in its entirety for your reading convenience:

America has a time problem. About half of us tell pollsters that we don’t have enough time to do what we want. Another survey found that most people would prefer two more weeks of vacation than two more weeks of pay. And every new “labor-saving’’ technology - e-mail, smart phones - seems to make things worse, not better.

Books for the time-starved and productivity-challenged would fill a small library. Beyond the books, there are the seminars, videos, apps, and “methods’’ (like “Getting Things Done’’) - which feature books, videos, seminars, and apps.

Yet for all the advice that has been offered, I doubt anyone has come up with the bit of wisdom on offer from a professor at Harvard Business School: Spend more time doing things for other people.

This is, of course, completely absurd. How could taking on another task possibly help?

The answer has to do with the important distinction between time - that thing that can be measured with atomic clocks, that marches on, merciless - and subjective time, our experience of the flow of events. And this is why the advice, the product of recent scientific study, is both unexpected and wise.

“It is not so much how much time you have,’’ says Harvard Business School’s Michael Norton, “as how you feel about what you can get done in the time that you do have.’’

Norton, working with Cassie Mogilner at the University of Pennsylvania and Zoe Chance at Yale, arrived at this conclusion through a series of investigations into our perception of time. Students were asked to either give time away (writing an encouraging note to a gravely ill child) or waste time (counting instances of the letter “e’’ in a Latin text). Afterwards, the letter writers felt that they had more time, according to a survey.

But maybe, the researchers reasoned, doing the time-wasting task was simply unpleasant, and this bad mood made people feel they had less time. So they did another experiment, asking students on a Saturday morning to do something they hadn’t planned to, either for themselves or for someone else. They found that the people who did a good turn for another felt like they had more time.

Finally, they did an experiment that got right to the heart of the matter. They told a class that, at the end of a lab session they would be helping at-risk students from a local high school by editing an essay they were working on. When the time came, half were given the essays to work on, and the other half of the class was told that there were no more essays to work on, and they could leave early.

Here, then, the researchers were comparing the effect of doing something for someone else, and having a sudden, unexpected windfall of time. As they report in the journal Psychological Science, the people who helped with the essays said that they felt they had more time to take care of their work than the people who’d been given free time.

Allow this strange fact to sink in: The best solution for not having enough time is not being given more time.

It turns out that people are extraordinarily bad at estimating how much time a task will take to complete; this is known in psychology as “the planning fallacy.’’

“One of the things that can happen when you are overbooked or overstressed is that even the tiniest thing that comes up can feel insurmountable,’’ says Norton. “We have all had the experience of getting that one more email and feeling like, ‘Oh, I am doomed.’ ’’

The planning fallacy means that we have a poor sense of how much effort it will take to complete that to-do list we carry around with us. And this, in turn, means that the stress we all feel - How can I get it all done? - is only loosely connected to reality.

Norton argues that doing something for someone else provides a tremendous boost in our confidence that we can get things done. It makes us feel in control of our lives - effective. The future feels more open.

There is certainly an upper limit to this effect, a point at which the hours of helping others become an additional stress. And, clearly, improving one’s time-management skills is bound to help.

Yet the research solves a central paradox: Americans feel daunting time pressures, and yet, by any historical measure, they have a tremendous amount of leisure time. We are all busy, yes. But we also labor under potent illusions, and isn’t it a wondrous thing that we can help ourselves see through them by lending a hand to someone else?

Gareth Cook can be reached at

Thanks Gareth, for reporting on that awesome insight!

Tags: boost in confidence, Gareth Cook, more time, time-starved, overstressed, effective, Boston Globe, stress, Harvard Business School, insurmountable, time-management skills, Michael Norton, leisure time, pressures