GRANTED: Highlights from this year
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and 2014 is no exception. Let's take a look back at some of this year's best articles on work and psychology:
1. Find Your Passion With These 8 Thought-Provoking Questions
We know we're supposed to follow our dreams, but that's not terribly helpful advice for those figuring out what those dreams, uh, are. Whether you're at an early stage in your career or you're considering a transition, these simple, powerful questions gathered by Warren Berger may provide some clarity.
2. Masters of Love
Of every ten couples who say "I do," only three end up with happy, healthy marriages. To find out why some couples stay in love, psychologists have spent three decades in the Love Lab. Emily Esfahani Smith explains how everyday acts of kindness and generosity may be the secret ingredients for happily ever after.
3. Interestingness vs. Truth
Oliver Burkeman shares some surprising—and ultimately troubling—facts. "Most people aren't motivated by the truth. What they want, above all, is not to be bored." (And just like that, I second-guess this newsletter's content. Next month: unicycling bears!)
4. Spite Is Good
In this nuanced analysis of the oft-overlooked subject of spite, Natalie Angier gives us a surprising glimpse into cooperation, cheating, and punishment, drawing examples from performance-enhancing athletes, bitter divorces, and even the Mafia.
5. How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall? Talent
"Scientists have long argued over the relative contributions of practice and native talent to the development of elite performance." Might want to at least skim this one from Benedict Carey before irreversibly committing yourself to 10,000 hours of practicing polyphonic overtones or trying to beatbox like this guy.
6. Gained in Translation
Speaking a second language has all sorts of proven benefits, but this article from The Economist touches on a previously unknown potential side effect: a tendency toward cold, utilitarian judgment. Subjects presented with a moral dilemma in a foreign language made more calculated—even violent—decisions than did those dealing in their native tongue. ¡Que increíble!
7. The 7 Emails You Need to Know How to Write
A handy cheat-sheet from Teju Ravilochan for your most common email quandaries: requesting a meeting, making an introduction, and even (politely) pestering someone who hasn't gotten back to you. A good resource to keep on hand for the next time you're staring at a blank "Compose" canvas.
8. Think You're An Introvert? You're Probably Wrong
Introversion is having its moment in the sun, but frankly, there's still a lot of misinformation floating around. Scott Barry Kaufman does an excellent job examining and correcting some common misconceptions. Whatever your personality, you may understand yourself a bit better after reading this.
9. Why Cliques Form at Some High Schools and Not Others
This article starts, as all should, with a quote from The Breakfast Club. But don't let the fist-pump freeze frame fool you; Derek Thompson also imparts some intriguing insights: "The way high schools are designed—their size, their level of diversity, and the way they treat students—can either drive students to segregate... or force them to build relationships."
10. The Cult of Busy
What does it mean when we answer the question of "How are you?" with "busy"? By cleverly reframing "busy" as "lazy," Dina Kaplan seeks to end the glorification of busyness, and offers some practical steps for joining her in this goal. If you think you're too busy to read this article, you need to read it now.
From My Desk:
When Talking About Bias Backfires
A frustrating new hurdle on the path to greater equality: making people aware of gender biases can actually lead them to discriminate more rather than less. Oof. I was honored to partner with Sheryl Sandberg on this new op-ed about why this happens, and the sentence that might start to fix it.
8 Ways to Say No Without Hurting Your Image
Saying no does not come naturally to me, but after writing a book on helping with no strings attached, I found myself flooded by more requests than I could handle. Here are the eight strategies I eventually developed to make sure I'm free to say yes when it matters the most.
The Most Influential Books of the Past Decade
Every once in a while, we read a book that doesn’t just transform the way we see the world. It also changes how we live our lives. For the past ten years, I’ve been asking business leaders and students which evidence-based book has most influenced their actions. Here are the top picks from 2004 to present, and how they’ve made a difference.
PODCAST: Office Hours with Daniel Pink
I had a great time discussing giving, eating like a five-year-old, and dung beetles (sure, why not?) with the inimitable Dan Pink. If only all interviews were this fun.
Thank you for reading—I hope you found something you enjoyed. The first newsletter of 2015 will gracefully unicycle into your inbox in about a month. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.