Games People Play by Eric Berne, M.D.

Categories BehaviourPosted on

Whether consciously or not, people are constantly playing mind games with one another – it’s a natural, even if often undesirable, trait of human psychology.However, the negative impact of these games can be mitigated by learning to recognize, sidestep and counteract them. Games People Play gives you the tools for doing so, allowing you to forge deeper and more meaningful relationships with those around you.

Reclaim Your Brain by Joseph A. Annibali, M.D.

Categories BehaviourPosted on

Imbalances in our brains can give rise to such conditions as anxiety, depression and addiction, all of which are great hindrances to our success, not to mention significant sources of unhappiness in our lives. In Reclaim Your Brain, M.D. Joseph A. Annibali investigates the biological causes for such problems, coming up with effective strategies to prevent and combat them in order to keep one’s life on the right track.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman

Categories BehaviourPosted on

People speak different love languages. After many years of marriage counseling, Chapman’s conclusion is that there are five emotional love languages—five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.

Chapman believes that, once you identify and learn to speak your spouse’s primary love language, you will have discovered the key to a long-lasting, loving marriage.

The Five Big Ideas

Wehave been led to believe that if we are really in love, it will last forever.However, once the experience of falling in love has run it’s course, we return to the world of reality and begin to assert ourselves.

Some couples believe that the end of the “in-love” experience means they have only two options: a life of misery with their spouse or jump ship and try again.

However, there is a third and better alternative: We can recognize the in-love experience for what it was—a temporary emotional high—and now pursue “real love” with our spouse.

Your wife’s complaints are the most powerful indicators of her primary love language.

Thereis nothing more powerful that you can do than to love your wife even when she’s not responding positively.

The 5 Love Languages

  • Words of affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Receiving gifts
  • Acts of service
  • Physical touch

The 5 Love Languages Summary

Chapman is convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level is to an automobile.

When your spouse’s emotional love tank is full and they feel secure in your love, the whole world looks bright and your spouse will move out to reach their highest potential in life.

Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love.

Giving verbal compliments is one way to express words of affirmation to your spouse. Another dialect is encouraging words.

We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement.

Sometimes our words say one thing, but our tone of voice says another.

We can choose to live today free from the failures of yesterday.

When you make a request of your spouse, you are affirming his or her worth and abilities. You are introducing the element of choice. This is important because we cannot get emotional love by way of demand.

If your mate’s primary love language is quality time, your spouse simply wants you, being with them, spending time.

Spending time with your mate in a common pursuit communicates that you care about each other, that you enjoy being with each other, that you like to do things together.

One of the most common dialects is that of quality conversation. By quality conversation, Chapman mean sympathetic dialogue where two individuals are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context.

Words of affirmation focus on what we are saying, whereas quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing.

We must be willing to give advice but only when it is requested and never in a condescending manner.

Ask yourself, “What emotion is my spouse experiencing?” When you think you have the answer, confirm it. For example, “It sounds to me like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot.”

One way to learn new patterns is to establish a daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them. Chapman calls this the “Minimum Daily Requirement” for a healthy marriage.

The essential ingredients in a quality activity are:

At least one of you wants to do it

The other is willing to do it

Both of you know why you are doing it—to express love by being together.

A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.”

Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give if your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts.

By acts of service, Chapman mean doing things you know your spouse would like you to do.

Love is a choice and cannot be coerced.

Each of us must decide daily to love or not to love our spouses. If we choose to love, then expressing it in the way in which our spouse requests will make our love most effective emotionally.

People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that the touch that brings pleasure to you will also bring pleasure to her.

A common mistake many men make is assuming that physical touch is their primary love language because they desire sexual intercourse so intensely.

Most sexual problems in marriage have little to do with physical technique but everything to do with meeting emotional needs.

If your deepest pain is the critical, judgmental words of your spouse, then perhaps your love language is words of affirmation.

Chapman suggests three ways to discover your own primary love language:

What does your spouse do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply? The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language.

What have you most often requested of your spouse? The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.

In what way do you regularly express love to your spouse? Your method of expressing love may be an indication that that would also make you feel loved.

Almost never do two people fall in love on the same day, and almost never do they fall out of love on the same day. Chapman calls this “The disequilibrium of the ‘in-love’ experience.”

Love is not the answer to everything, but it creates a climate of security in which we can seek answers to those things that bother us.

Can emotional love be reborn in a marriage? You bet. The key is to learn the primary love language of your spouse and choose to speak it.


How does your spouse respond when you try to show affection?

On a scale of 0–10, how full is your love tank?

Can you pinpoint a time in your marriage when “reality” set in? How did this affect your relationship, for better or worse?

What would you most like to hear your spouse say to you?

What in your marriage detracts from spending quality time?

Reflect on ways to give gifts even if finances are tight.

Many acts of service will involve household chores, but not all. What are some non-chore ways of serving your mate?

Recall some non-sexual “touching times” that enhanced intimacy between the two of you.

Do you think by now you have a good sense of what your spouse’s love language is? How about them for you? What more could you do to explore this?

A key thought here is the idea of speaking our mate’s love language whether or not it is natural for us. Why is this so fundamental to a healthy marriage?

What does your spouse do to make you feel more “significant”? How about what you do for them?

Recommended Reading

If you like The 5 Love Languages, you may also enjoy the following books:

Awaken The Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny by Anthony Robbins

Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Buy this book

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The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Categories Behaviour, Mindfulness & HappinessPosted on

We become more successful when we are happier and more positive, not the other way around

Happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential

The Happiness Advantage is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it is the realization that we can

The Five Big Ideas

Happiness is not just a mood—it’s a work ethic

We can use our brain to change how we process the world, and that in turn changes how we react to it

Constantly scanning the world for the positive, allows us to experience happiness, gratitude, and optimism

When we reframe failure as an opportunity for growth, we are all the more likely to experience that growth (see: post-traumatic growth)

The most successful people, in work and in life, believe that their actions have a direct effect on their outcomes

The Happiness Advantage Summary

If you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you’ll be happy is a broken formula.

“The typical approach to understanding human behavior has always been to look for the average behavior or outcome.”

The first mistake traditional psychology makes is looking for the average behavior or outcome in order to understand human behavior. Tal Ben-Shahar calls this “the error of the average.”

“If we study merely what is average, we will remain merely average.”

The second mistake traditional psychology makes is focusing on those who fall only on one side of average—below it.

“If all you strive for is diminishing the bad, you’ll only attain the average and you’ll miss out entirely on the opportunity to exceed the average.”

“Countless studies have found that social relationships are the best guarantee of heightened well-being and lowered stress, both an antidote for depression and a prescription for high performance.”

“We become more successful when we are happier and more positive.”

“It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive.”

Because positive brains have a biological advantage over brains that are neutral or negative, The Happiness Advantage teaches us how to retrain our brains to capitalize on positivity and improve our productivity and performance.

How we experience the world, and our ability to succeed within it, constantly changes based on our mindset. The Fulcrum and the Lever teach us how we can adjust our mindset (our fulcrum) in a way that gives us the power (the lever) to be more fulfilled and successful.

When our brains get stuck in a pattern that focuses on stress, negativity, and failure, we set ourselves up to fail. The Tetris Effect teaches us how to retrain our brains to spot patterns of possibility, so we can see—and seize—opportunity wherever we look.

In the midst of defeat, stress, and crisis, our brains map different paths to help us cope. Falling Up is about finding the mental path that not only leads us up out of failure or suffering but teaches us to be happier and more successful because of it.

When challenges loom and we get overwhelmed, our rational brains can get hijacked by emotions. The Zorro Circle teaches us how to regain control by focusing first on small, manageable goals, and then gradually expanding our circle to achieve bigger and bigger ones.

Sustaining lasting change often feels impossible because our willpower is limited. And when willpower fails, we fall back on our old habits and succumb to the path of least resistance. The 20-Second Rule shows how, by making small energy adjustments, we can reroute the path of least resistance and replace bad habits with good ones.

In the midst of challenges and stress, some people choose to hunker down and retreat within themselves. But the most successful people invest in their friends, peers, and family members to propel themselves forward. Social Investment teaches us how to invest more in one of the greatest predictors of success and excellence—our social support network.

“Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it is the realization that we can.”

Principle #1: The Happiness Advantage

Martin Seligman, the pioneer in positive psychology, has broken happiness down into three, measurable components: pleasure, engagement, and meaning.

For Shawn Achor, happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential.

“Instead of narrowing our actions down to fight or flight as negative emotions do, positive ones broaden the amount of possibilities we process, making us more thoughtful, creative, and open to new ideas.”

“Positive emotions flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make us feel good but dial up the learning centers of our brains to higher levels. They help us organize new information, keep that information in the brain longer, and retrieve it faster later on. And they enable us to make and sustain more neural connections, which allows us to think more quickly and creatively, become more skilled at complex analysis and problem solving, and see and invent new ways of doing things.”

“People who put their heads down and wait for work to bring eventual happiness put themselves at a huge disadvantage, while those who capitalize on positivity every chance they get come out ahead.”

“Even the smallest shots of positivity can give someone a serious competitive edge.”

“Happiness is not just a mood—it’s a work ethic.”

How to Improve Your Mood and Raise Your Happiness Throughout the Day

1. Meditate

“Neuroscientists have found that monks who spend years meditating actually grow their left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most responsible for feeling happy.”

“Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness, lower stress, even improve immune function.”

2. Find Something to Look Forward To

“One study found people who just thought about watching their favorite movie actually raised their endorphin levels by 27 percent.”

“Anticipating future rewards can actually light up the pleasure centers in your brain much as the actual reward will.”

3. Commit Conscious Acts of Kindness

“A long line of empirical research, including one study of over 2,000 people, has shown that acts of altruism—giving to friends and strangers alike—decrease stress and strongly contribute to enhanced mental health.”

“Pick one day a week and make a point of committing five acts of kindness.”

4. Infuse Positivity Into Your Surroundings

“Our physical environment can have an enormous impact on our mindset and sense of well-being.”

“Studies have shown that the less negative TV we watch, specifically violent media, the happier we are.”

5. Exercise

“Physical activity can boost mood and enhance our work performance in a number of other ways as well, by improving motivation and feelings of mastery, reducing stress and anxiety, and helping us get into flow—that “locked in” feeling of total engagement that we usually get when we’re at our most productive.”

6. Spend Money (but Not on Stuff)

“In his book Luxury Fever, Robert Frank explains that while the positive feelings we get from material objects are frustratingly fleeting, spending money on experiences, especially ones with other people, produces positive emotions that are both more meaningful and more lasting.”

Spending money on other people is called ‘prosocial spending,’ and also boosts happiness.

“Draw two columns on a piece of paper (or take ten minutes at work to create a nifty spreadsheet) and track your purchases over the next month. Are you spending more on things or on experiences? At the end of the month, look back over each column and think about the pleasure each purchase brought you, and for how long.”

7. Exercise a Signature Strength

“Each time we use a skill, whatever it is, we experience a burst of positivity. If you find yourself in need of a happiness booster, revisit a talent you haven’t used in a while.”

“Even more fulfilling than using a skill, though, is exercising a strength of character, a trait that is deeply embedded in who we are.”

“Studies have shown that the more you use your signature strengths in daily life, the happier you become.”

Principle #2: The Fulcrum and the Lever

“While we, of course, can’t change reality through sheer force of will alone, we can use our brain to change how we process the world, and that in turn changes how we react to it.”

“Happiness is not about lying to ourselves, or turning a blind eye to the negative, but about adjusting our brain so that we see the ways to rise above our circumstances.”

“Our power to maximize our potential is based on two important things: (1) the length of our lever—how much potential power and possibility we believe we have, and (2) the position of our fulcrum—the mindset with which we generate the power to change.”

“By changing the fulcrum of our mindset and lengthening our lever of possibility, we change what is possible.”

“It’s not the weight of the world that determines what we can accomplish. It is our fulcrum and lever.”

“‘Reality’ is merely our brain’s relative understanding of the world based on where and how we are observing it.”

“So how exactly is it that our relative perception of what is happening, or what we think will happen, can actually affect what does happen? One answer is that the brain is organized to act on what we predict will happen next, something psychologists call ‘Expectancy Theory.’”

“The expectation of an event causes the same complex set of neurons to fire as though the event were actually taking place, triggering a cascade of events in the nervous system that leads to a whole host of real physical consequences.”

“The mental construction of our daily activities, more than the activity itself, defines our reality.”

“When we reconnect ourselves with the pleasure of the ‘means,’ as opposed to only focusing on the ‘ends,’ we adopt a mindset more conducive not only to enjoyment but to better results.”

“When faced with a difficult task or challenge, give yourself an immediate competitive advantage by focusing on all the reasons you will succeed, rather than fail. Remind yourself of the relevant skills you have, rather than those you lack. Think of a time you have been in a similar circumstance in the past and performed well.”

“When we believe there will be a positive payoff for our effort, we work harder instead of succumbing to helplessness.”

“By changing the way we perceive ourselves and our work, we can dramatically improve our results.”

After many years and hundreds of interviews with workers in every conceivable profession, Amy Wrzesniewski has found that employees have one of three “work orientations,” or mindsets about our work.

“We view our work as a Job, a Career, or a Calling. People with a ‘job’see work as a chore and their paycheck as the reward. They work because they have to and constantly look forward to the time they can spend away from their job. By contrast, people who view their work as a career work not only out of necessity but also to advance and succeed. They are invested in their work and want to do well. Finally, people with a calling view work as an end in itself; their work is fulfilling not because of external rewards but because they feel it contributes to the greater good, draws on their personal strengths, and gives them meaning and purpose.”

“People with a calling orientation not only find their work more rewarding but work harder and longer because of it. And as a result, these are the people who are generally more likely to get ahead.”

“Wrzesniewski’s most interesting finding is not just that people see their work in one of these three ways, but that it fundamentally doesn’t matter what type of job one has.”

“A calling orientation can have just as much to do with mindset as it does with the actual work being done.”

“Unhappy employees can find ways to improve their work life that doesn’t involve quitting, changing jobs or careers, or going off to find themselves. Organizational psychologists call this ‘job crafting,’ but in essence, it involves simply adjusting one’s mindset.”

“if you can’t make actual changes to your daily work, ask yourself what potential meaning and pleasure already exist in what you do.”

“Researchers have found that even the smallest tasks can be imbued with greater meaning when they are connected to personal goals and values.”

“Turn a piece of paper horizontally, and on the left-hand side write down a task you’re forced to perform at work that feels devoid of meaning. Then ask yourself: What is the purpose of this task? What will it accomplish? Draw an arrow to the right and write this answer down. If what you wrote still seems unimportant, ask yourself again: What does this result lead to? Draw another arrow and write this down. Keep going until you get to a result that is meaningful to you. In this way, you can connect every small thing you do to the larger picture, to a goal that keeps you motivated and energized.”

“You can have the best job in the world, but if you can’t find the meaning in it, you won’t enjoy it, whether you are a movie maker or an NFL playmaker.”

“What we expect from people (and from ourselves) manifests itself in the words we use, and those words can have a powerful effect on end results.”

“This phenomenon is called the Pygmalion Effect: when our belief in another person’s potential brings that potential to life.”

“The expectations we have about our children, co-workers, and spouses—whether or not they are ever voiced—can make that expectation a reality.”

“People act as we expect them to act, which means that a leader’s expectations about what he thinks will motivate his employees often end up coming true.”

“Every Monday, ask yourself these three questions: (1) Do I believe that the intelligence and skills of my employees are not fixed, but can be improved with effort?; (2) Do I believe that my employees want to make that effort, just as they want to find meaning and fulfillment in their jobs?; and (3) How am I conveying these beliefs in my daily words and actions?”

Principle #3: The Tetris Effect

“Constantly scanning the world for the negative comes with a great cost. It undercuts our creativity, raises our stress levels, and lowers our motivation and ability to accomplish goals.”

“Inattentional blindness”: our frequent inability to see what is often right in front of us if we’re not focusing directly on it.

“We tend to miss what we’re not looking for.”

“When our brains constantly scan for and focus on the positive, we profit from three of the most important tools available to us: happiness, gratitude, and optimism.”

“Psychologists call this “predictive encoding”: Priming yourself to expect a favorable outcome actually encodes your brain to recognize the outcome when it does in fact arise.”

“The best way to kick-start this is to start making a daily list of the good things in your job, your career, and your life.”

“When you write down a list of ‘three good things’ that happened that day, your brain will be forced to scan the last 24 hours for potential positives—things that brought small or large laughs, feelings of accomplishment at work, a strengthened connection with family, a glimmer of hope for the future.”

“A variation on the Three Good Things exercise is to write a short journal entry about a positive experience.”

“It’s not your age, or what you do for a living; it’s the training and consistency that count.”

Principle #4: Falling Up

“On every mental map after crisis or adversity, there are three mental paths. One that keeps circling around where you currently are (i.e., the negative event creates no change; you end where you start). Another mental path leads you toward further negative consequences (i.e., you are far worse off after the negative event; this path is why we are afraid of conflict and challenge). And one, which I call the Third Path, that leads us from failure or setback to a place where we are even stronger and more capable than before the fall.”

“Study after study shows that if we are able to conceive of a failure as an opportunity for growth, we are all the more likely to experience that growth.”

“By scanning our mental map for positive opportunities, and by rejecting the belief that every down in life leads us only further downward, we give ourselves the greatest power possible: the ability to move up not despite the setbacks, but because of them.”

“People’s ability to find the path up rests largely on how they conceive of the cards they have been dealt, so the strategies that most often lead to Adversarial Growth include positive reinterpretation of the situation or event, optimism, acceptance, and coping mechanisms that include focusing on the problem head-on (rather than trying to avoid or deny it).”

“The people who can most successfully get themselves up off the mat are those who define themselves not by what has happened to them, but by what they can make out of what has happened.”

“Things do not necessarily happen for the best, but some people are able to make the best out of things that happen.”—Tal Ben-Shahar

“When people feel helpless in one area of life, they not only give up in that one area; they often ‘overlearn’ the lesson and apply it to other situations. They become convinced that one dead-end path must be proof that all possible paths are dead ends.”

“A counterfact is an alternate scenario our brains create to help us evaluate and make sense of what really happened.”

Because counterfacts are invented, we actually have the power in any given situation to consciously select a counterfact that makes us feel fortunate rather than helpless. And choosing a positive counterfact, besides simply making us feel better, sets ourselves up for the whole host of benefits to motivation and performance we now know accompanies a positive mindset. On the other hand, choosing a counterfact that makes us more fearful of the adversity actually makes it loom larger than it really is.

“When we choose a counterfact that makes us feel worse, we are actually altering our reality, allowing the obstacle to exert far greater influence over us than it otherwise should.”

“Decades of subsequent study have since shown that explanatory style—how we choose to explain the nature of past events—has a crucial impact on our happiness and future success.”

“People with an optimistic explanatory style interpret adversity as being local and temporary (i.e., ‘It’s not that bad, and it will get better.’) while those with a pessimistic explanatory style see these events as more global and permanent (i.e., ‘It’s really bad, and it’s never going to change.’).”

“Virtually all avenues of success, we now know, are dictated by explanatory style.”

“One way to help ourselves see the path from adversity to opportunity is to practice the ABCD model of interpretation: Adversity, Belief, Consequence, and Disputation.”

“Adversity is the event we can’t change; it is what it is. Belief is our reaction to the event; why we thought it happened and what we think it means for the future. If we believe the former—that is if we see the adversity as short-term or as an opportunity for growth or appropriately confined to only part of our life—then we maximize the chance of a positive Consequence. But if the Belief has led us down a more pessimistic path, helplessness and inaction can bring negative Consequences. Disputation involves first telling ourselves that our belief is just that—a belief, not fact—and then challenging (or disputing) it.”

“Psychologists recommend that we externalize this voice (i.e., pretend it’s coming from someone else), so it’s like we’re actually arguing with another person.”

“When faced with a terrible prospect—for example, the end of a love affair or of a job—we overestimate how unhappy it will make us and for how long.”

“We fall victim to ‘immune neglect,’ which means we consistently forget how good our psychological immune system is at helping us get over adversity.”

“Adversities, no matter what they are, simply don’t hit us as hard as we think they will.”

Principle #5: The Zorro Circle

One of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance is feeling that we are in control and that we are masters of our own fate at work and at home.

“Psychologists have found that these kinds of gains in productivity, happiness, and health have less to do with how much control we actually have and more with how much control we think we have.”

“The most successful people, in work and in life, are those who have what psychologists call an ‘internal locus of control,’ the belief that their actions have a direct effect on their outcomes.”

“Experiments show that when people are primed to feel high levels of distress, the quickest to recover are those who can identify how they are feeling and put those feelings into words.”

“By tackling one small challenge at a time—a narrow circle that slowly expands outward—we can relearn that our actions do have a direct effect on our outcomes, that we are largely the masters of our own fates.”

“Small successes can add up to major achievements. All it takes is drawing that first circle in the sand.”

Principle #6 The 20-Second Rule

“Common sense is not common action.”

William James called creating good habits “daily strokes of effort.”

The reason so many of us have trouble sustaining change is because we try to rely on willpower.

The problem is, the more we use our willpower, the more worn-out it gets.

“This invisible pull toward the path of least resistance can dictate more of our lives than we realize, creating an impassible barrier to change and positive growth.”

“Studies show that these activities are enjoyable and engaging for only about 30 minutes, then they start sapping our energy, creating what psychologists call “psychic entropy”—that listless, apathetic feeling Cathy experienced.

“In physics, activation energy is the initial spark needed to catalyze a reaction. The same energy, both physical and mental, is needed of people to overcome inertia and kick-start a positive habit.”

“It’s not the sheer number and volume of distractions that gets us into trouble; it’s the ease of access to them.”

“Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.”

“By adding 20 seconds to my day, I gained back three hours.”

“The key to reducing choice is setting and following a few simple rules. Psychologists call these kinds of rules ‘second-order decisions,’ because they are essentially decisions about when to make decisions, like deciding ahead of time when, where, and how I was going to work out in the morning.”

“Rules are especially helpful during the first few days of a behavior-changing venture when it’s easier to stray off course. Gradually, as the desired action becomes more habitual, we can become more flexible.”

Principle #7 Social Investment

The more social support you have, the happier you are.

“When over a thousand highly successful professional men and women were interviewed as they approached retirement and asked what had motivated them the most, throughout their careers, overwhelmingly they placed work friendships above both financial gain and individual status.”

“Organizational psychologists have found that even brief encounters can form “high-quality connections,” which fuel openness, energy, and authenticity among coworkers, and in turn lead to a whole host of measurable, tangible gains in performance.”

“Shelly Gable, a leading psychologist at the University of California, has found that there are four different types of responses we can give to someone’s good news, and only one of them contributes positively to the relationship. The winning response is both active and constructive; it offers enthusiastic support, as well as specific comments and follow-up questions.”

“Interestingly, her research shows passive responses to good news (‘That’s nice.’) can be just as harmful to the relationship as blatantly negative ones (‘You got the promotion? I’m surprised they didn’t give it to Sally, she seems more suited to the job.’).

“Gable’s studies have shown that active-constructive responding enhances relationship commitment and satisfaction, and fuels the degree to which people feel understood, validated, and cared for during a discussion—all of which contribute to the Happiness Advantage.”

Recommended Reading

If you like The Happiness Advantage, you may also enjoy the following books:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins

Buy this book

Print | Hardcover | Audiobook

Think Like A Freak Summary

Categories BehaviourPosted on

Think Like A Freak teaches you how to reject conventional wisdom as often as possible, ask the right questions about everything and come up with your own, statistically validated answers, instead of relying on other peoples’ opinions or common sense.

Almost ten years after Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner came up with this. The original book was an expedition into the world of incentives, explaining how many of the most popular, sometimes global phenomena, have a hidden cause we don’t see at first sight.

With this book they dive deeper on how you can learn to think the way they did, when they came up with the original book’s material. Thinking like a freak is about seeing the world clearly, as it truly is, not as most of humanity perceives it to be.

Here are 3 lessons to teach you how to do just that:

  • If you want to be right, you have to be willing to be unpopular.
  • Observe how incentives drive human behavior in the real world to solve problems creatively.
  • Conventional wisdom is often wrong, so letting go of it will make you happier.

Want to be part of the Suicide Squad of thinkers? Of course you do, let’s get to work!

Lesson 1: Would you rather be right or run-after?

Let’s say I gave you a shot at winning the FIFA World Cup (soccer). All you have to do is make a penalty kick and score. One kick. All or nothing. Would you rather score a goal in a lame way and win or make a cool shot that your fans love, but lose?

You’ll probably say “Duh, Nik, of course I wanna win!” but the choice isn’t always as obvious.

Sometimes being right requires you to break with all conventions and that makes you unpopular. In order to think like a freak you have to accept that not everyone will like you, because you’re shaking up the world they know.

Sticking with the soccer example: If you do your homework and study the statistics of penalty kicks, you’ll see that goalkeepers jump to the kicker’s left side 57% of the time. Why? Because most soccer players are right-footed, which makes their kick to the left stronger. Goalkeepers only choose the right side 41% of the time.

But if you add up those numbers, this reveals something even more interesting. 57% + 41% = 98% – so what does the keeper do the other 2% of the time? He stays in the middle.

A kick in the middle is therefore always more likely to end in a goal. In fact, using Bayes’ Theorem you can calculate that it’s about 7% more likely to convert.

But a kick up the middle is one of the most boring, unsporting ways to make a penalty kick. It’s not spectacular, breaks the conventions and to some, feels like cheating. What’s more, if it doesn’t work, the goalkeeper will have caught the ball with zero effort – and the shooter’s fans will boo him.

Being right often means being disliked, but which one would you rather be – a disliked winner or a favored loser?

Lesson 2: To find better solutions to problems, observe how incentives actually impact human behavior in the real world.

Psychologist and marketing professor Robert Cialdini (who wrote Influence) once did an interesting experiment. He wanted to find out what gets people to conserve energy at home (electricity, water, heat, etc.). Naturally, he started with a survey, asking people to rank a few factors by how much they thought they influenced their use of energy.

The result:

Wanting to protect the environment.

Doing something that benefits society.

Saving money.

Doing it simply because other people do it too.

Aww, that’s nice, isn’t it? A whole bunch of environmentally aware people, who care about society. Actually, not so much.

To find out how these answers fared in real life, Cialdini and his team went around neighborhoods in California, from which they could track energy data, putting up five different posters, one for each stated reason and a neutral control poster. They all advertised using a fan instead of air conditioning in the summer to save energy, but used different incentives (like “help protect the environment” or “your neighbor does it, will you?” etc.).

When they measured how much more energy the houses in neighborhoods with the different placards saved over the summer compared to the neutral one, only one factor really made an impact: whether the neighbors saved energy too.

Even though people thought this would have the least impact on them, in reality the peer pressure of neighbors saving energy was the only thing that actually got them to reduce their energy consumption.

Naturally, this’d be the one to advertise with. What gets people to do things is rarely obvious, so be on the lookout for the actual incentives and you’ll find much better solutions to real-world problems.

Lesson 3: Letting go of conventional wisdom will likely make you happier, because it’s often wrong anyways.

How many people who do you know, who live their lives by the book, doing everything conventional wisdom says, yet are profoundly unhappy? Now contrast that with how many people you know that seem to be doing nothing society dictates, but are almost annoyingly happy.

Chances are you’ll know a lot more of the first kind than of the second, but that’s a good indicator that you should at least think a lot about conventional wisdom before accepting it.

The two Steves argue that in most cases, letting conventional wisdom go will make you happier.

Take the mantra “winners never quit and quitters never win,” for example. This is horrible advice. In fact, the only thing that helps you win is quitting – as long as you’re quitting strategically. But even when quitting is the obvious best choice, we often hesitate to do so, because there are plenty of biases preventing us from doing so, like:

Social pressure. Quitting makes us seem weak.

Sunk costs. The more time, money and energy we’ve already invested, the harder it gets to throw in the towel.

Opportunity cost. We constantly forget that doing one thing keeps us from doing another.

The authors did a study getting people to flip a virtual coin to make important quitting decisions. The result? Quitting often left people happier, especially when it came to quitting their job and ending bad relationships.

My personal take-aways

Totally ran out of space with this one. And as for Freakonomics, I could’ve written way more lessons. Great book, an absolute must-read!

Buy this book

The Upside Of Irrationality Summary

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1-Sentence-Summary: The Upside Of Irrationality shows you the many ways in which you act irrational, while thinking what you’re doing makes perfect sense, and how this irrational behavior can actually be beneficial, as long as you use it the right way.

Dan Ariely is like a bias-sniffing dog, uncovering psychological fallacies in our minds and then helping us understand them in plain language. Much of his research is based on how we can defeat or use our irrational behaviors in our favor, this book being no exception.

Sometimes being irrational has its advantages, for example when it comes to giving to charity or online dating, where logic doesn’t get us and our causes very far. In our optimized world trying to make 100% rational decisions all of the time seems tempting, and most people would probably adapt a robot-like decision-making ability in a heartbeat, if they could.

Dan argues that this isn’t the best solution, for much of what makes us irrational is also what makes us human and allows us to connect with one another.

Here are 3 lessons to show you being irrational ain’t so bad sometimes:

You overvalue whatever you create yourself.

Pictures and checklists aren’t enough to make online dating successful.

Self-herding could ruin your habits in the long run.

Are you ready to embrace your irrational side? If not, you’re about to!

Lesson 1: Creator’s bias makes you overvalue your work.

In the 1940s and 50s processed food was on the rise, thanks to color TV and clever marketing. One of the first products to hit the shelves was the Pillsbury cake mix. Baking a cake was now as easy as washing hands. Moms could just add water to the powder mix, pour it in a tray and pop it in the oven.

The only problem was that women weren’t telling their friends about this awesome time-saver and sales were flat at first. But why?

Baking a cake had become too easy. It wasn’t an achievement worth talking about. It felt almost like cheating, so women would rather not tell their friends. Until Pillsbury changed one thing: They removed the dried egg from the mix and told housewives to add one fresh egg themselves. Sales went through the roof.

All of a sudden, the cake felt enough like a creation of their own hands, so women could pass it as a veritable achievement in front of friends and family.

This is called creator’s bias and it shows how much you overvalue your own work, especially compared to others. Simply because of the effort you put into something you think it’s worth a lot, and usually a lot more than what other people do.

Note: This is the bias big brands play on when they let you customize your shoes, shot glasses or car. It only works when you can complete your efforts though. A girl or guy who teases you a little before agreeing to a date is sexy and desirable, but if she/he rejects you too much, you’ll lose interest.

Lesson 2: Online dating doesn’t work, because checklists aren’t how we evaluate partners.

Young people in my age group (I’m 25, let’s say the age group is 18-29) are more single than ever. In 2014, 64% of those young people confirmed that they’re single.


Well, given so many career options, most of us have become Da Vinci people, jumping from one thing to the next – whether that’s schools, jobs or just side projects – which often coincides with moving to another location. But if you never settle, it’s almost impossible to develop a solid circle of long-term friends and even harder to find the right partner in or next to that circle.

For example, I’ve lived in four different places in the past five years, and moved a total of nine times. Just spelling it out makes me think I’m insane.

The market for online dating is therefore bigger than ever. Young people are tech savvy and the platforms grow and grow. But their results suck. When Dan Ariely looked at the data, he saw that 90% of all time on online platforms is spent looking at profiles and messaging with potential partners – only 10% of it is actually spent face to face – you know, meeting people.

But checking boxes on hobbies, zodiac signs, annual incomes and profile pictures isn’t how we evaluate people. Love is the most irrational thing in the world. You’ll never feel that spark as she giggles and you see her dimples for the first time or the chills down your spine when he sits on your bed and sings for you without, well, meeting!

Note: When yours truly used Tinder last year, I installed a system to focus on meeting people rather than chit-chatting. If you’re using the app, here’s how to get quality matches and meet up.

Lesson 3: Avoid short-term outbursts now to steer clear of long-term bad habits later.

Do you curse a lot while driving? My sister does, it’s hilarious. Sadly, it might lead to a lot more cursing down the road (pun intended).

There is a phenomenon called self-herding, which indicates you look to your past self’s behavior in order to determine what to do in a particular situation.

Case in point: When the car in front of you cuts you off, your brain instinctively recalls how you reacted the last time this happened. If giving the finger is the answer, you’ll find your window rolled down faster than you can say “Jackass!”

What your brain forgets though, is how you felt after reacting the last time. Chances are you felt bad for flipping off a random person and didn’t want to do it again. But since it’s hard to remember how you felt yesterday at 2 PM, let alone the last time this happened in traffic, there’s nothing to prevent you from indulging in this bad behavior again.

Therefore, short-term emotional outbursts have a much bigger long-term effect than you think, so be aware of them and you’ll spare yourself plenty of bad habits.

My personal take-aways

I could’ve easily doubled all these lessons in length, simply because there are still so many examples and good points to cover. And I’m only touching on a small portion of the book in this summary. Just get it!

Buy this book

The Psychology Of Winning Summary

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The Psychology of Winning teaches you the 10 qualities of winners, which set them apart and help them win in every sphere of life: personally, professionally and spiritually.

You’ve heard it before: Winners focus on winning, losers focus on winners.

And it’s true. We read the stories of the world’s Mark Zuckerbergs, Bill Gates’s and Michael Jacksons and obsess about how they are different from us.

Maybe it’s time to focus on doing what’s necessary to win ourselves, don’t you think?

Originally released as an audio program by Denis Waitley in 1978 (!), this book has reached over 100 million people.

He’s written over 15 books, but his 10 traits of winners still stand out today.

Here are 3 lessons that’ll help you turn yourself into a winner:

  • Winning isn’t an action, it’s a lifestyle.
  • Losers let things happen, winners make things happen.
  • Winners win in every aspect of life.

Born to be a winner? I thought so!

Lesson 1: Winning isn’t an action, it’s a lifestyle.

First of all, let’s clarify what winning really means.

Waitley says it’s much more of a lifestyle, rather than an action.

Winners don’t always succeed, just like everybody else. But their attitude and mindset still make them come out on top eventually.

So really, being a winner is about having winning habits and a positive mindset, which helps not only you, but also the people around you.

For example, you can easily list a few habits you’d rather associate with losers, than with winners, like beating yourself up mentally, smoking, procrastinating, being lazy and wasteful with your time and always worried about the future.

To become a winner, strive to remove those habits and replace them with winning ones, like exercising regularly, managing your time well, taking up a side project, staying positive, enjoying your leisure time to the fullest and eating well.

This will make your own life a whole lot better and you’ll inspire others to become winners as well.

Lesson 2: Losers let things happen, winners make things happen.

“I guess I’ll just see what happens.”

How many times have you said that? Or heard a friend say it?

This little sentence is like a signed agreement to hand over the controls for your own life to someone else. The people who just “wait and see” end up letting things happen, as opposed to winners, who make things happen.

But when you let other people decide what happens for you, you’ll end up frustrated and bitter, because none of the things you wanted came true – because you didn’t implement them!

Winners have this crazy belief that they are in charge of their life.

Yes, there is always luck involved in everything we do.

Like Voltaire said:

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.

Stop being a bystander in your own life.

Instead of just attending events, organize them. Instead of watching TV, create your own show. Instead of looking at pics on Instagram, upload them.

Take the reigns of your life into your own hands and you’ll feel a sense of control, like a true winner.

Lesson 3: Winners win in every aspect of life.

The best part of being a winner?

You win everywhere.

Winners are total people, meaning winning ripples through their entire life.

They’re not independent from the world, and because they see the big picture, they win at home, at work, at hobbies, at church, and basically wherever they go.

That’s partly because winners create other winners.

A winner will always have a winning team, i.e. a family who’s full of winners as well. You’ll respect and love your family, and always look out for the people you do business with, to make sure they benefit from you doing business with them.

Winners are very aware of both themselves and time. They know how they tick and how fast time ticks away, so they’re usually very present in the moment.

Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, they learn from them and move on, so they can enjoy the happy moments in the present. They’re not worried about the future or their death, because they understand life is short and that they still must follow their own roadmap.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

My personal take-aways By default, these 3 lessons are way too little to convey the goodness of this book

Buy this book

The Paradox Of Choice Summary

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The Paradox Of Choice shows you how today’s vast amount of choice makes you frustrated, less likely to choose, more likely to mess up, and less happy overall, before giving you concrete strategies and tips to ease the burden of decision-making.

I think I watched Barry Schwartz’s TED talk 3 times already. It’s over 10 years old, but still mind-blowing. The blinks in Stumbling On Happiness yesterday touched on his topic, decision-making, so I thought I’d give the blinks a re-read.

Barry Schwartz is a professor at Swarthmore College, and he argues that the freedom to choose we so longed for 50 years ago is one of the main roots of our unhappiness today.

Here are 3 things I learned from his book on the subject, The Paradox Of Choice:

The more options you have, the harder it gets to decide, and to decide well.

The more options you have, the less happy you will be, no matter what you decide on.

Good enough is the best – become a satisficer.

Let’s take a closer look!

Lesson 1: The more options you have, the harder it gets to decide, and to decide well.

You can’t argue that we don’t have enough choice nowadays. Between 1975 and 2008, the average number of products in a supermarket has risen from under 9,000 to over 47,000.

When trying to combine speakers, a tuner, an amplifier, a CD player, and a bunch of other components into a stereo system, just one electronics store will give you a massive 6.5 million different combinations – to set up a stereo system!

We always claim we want freedom, but Barry Schwartz suggest it might have gotten a little too much. For 2 reasons:

Having so much choice makes it extremely hard to choose at all.

Having so much choice makes it extremely likely you’ll make a mistake.

The research necessary to buy a pair of shoes these days is mind-boggling and could easily be a full time job. While researching a lot might just be a waste of time for shoes, for health insurance or retirement plans, it’s necessary.

Some of our choices have big consequences, and sadly the government doesn’t make these choices for us any more. 50 years ago there was exactly one health insurance in the US, Blue Cross.

You got your electricity from one company, heat from another, and that’s it. The government pre-selected these for you.

But now, they don’t. The crushing burden of choosing the exact right one is now left to you, the individual.

Similarly, this study showed that when students have to choose from an array of snacks 3 weeks in advance, they’ll make wrong assumptions about the future, and therefore choose snacks they end up don’t liking.

Lesson 2: The more options you have, the less happy you will be, no matter what you decide on.

Okay, let’s say you do take on that shoe research internship and dive into the task, ready to find the perfect pair of running shoes.

But the more you research, the more you’ll come to the conclusion that:

It’s impossible to find the perfect pair.

You can never look at all options.

This is because as soon as you start comparing 2 pairs, you’ll probably notice one has benefits the other hasn’t and vice versa.

Instantly, you imagine a hypothetical pair, which has both good qualities, but none of the bad ones. But this pair doesn’t exist.

What adds to your stress is that just by looking at other pairs, you value the one you favor less.

A study by the University of Florida has shown that when consumers are told to put a dollar value on magazines, they’ll automatically value a magazine more, if they aren’t shown other magazines with it.

This is called opportunity cost, and just knowing you’ll have to miss out on other options will make you less happy.

And when you finally overcome that fact and make a decision, you’ll still wonder about all those other options, even the ones you never looked into.

You might even start blaming yourself, after all you should’ve found the perfect pair of running shoes, with so much choice to choose from, right?

Lesson 3: Good enough is the best – become a satisficer.

Wrong! Have you heard the saying: “Only the best is good enough?” This was LEGO’s slogan in the 1930’s. However, with modern day choice, it should actually be the other way around:

Only “good enough” is the best.

Why? Because trying to make the best choice will make you utterly miserable, due to the 2 points above.

Instead, try becoming what Schwartz calls a “satisficer“.

When you set out to buy new running shoes, come up with a list of criteria up front.

What qualities should your running shoes have? Which color? How much will you pay?

Once you have that, go out and start looking. Now you can put all potential choices in one of two buckets:

Fits your criteria.

Doesn’t fit your criteria.

The moment you find a pair that belongs into the first bucket, you buy it.

That’s it.

The only way to get rid of the terror of choice is to artificially limit it. Just like people with good habits limit themselves by deciding up front what they’ll have for breakfast, you too can limit your choice by setting some rules.

Trust me, you’ll be much happier for it.

My personal take-aways

This summary is great. There’s a common thread that weaves through the entire summary, which makes it read like a mini version of the book. I had to cut several parts here to make it fit, sadly, because it is just so packed with insights.

If you’re interested in all the studies and papers, go for the book, as it lists all the resources in one convenient place, and you won’t have to dig around as much. I think The Paradox Of Choice will help you become a happier person. More so than even some of the most popular books about happiness, because limiting yourself is one of the most freeing things you’ll ever do.

Buy this book

The Interpretation Of Dreams Summary

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The Interpretation Of Dreams is Sigmund Freud’s seminal work on scientifically analyzing the deeper meaning hidden inside each and every one of our human dreams, which will help you make more sense of your own psyche.

A lot of my dreams as a kid involved flying. I would fly through the air, free like a bird, and soar across tree tops, mountains and cities surrounding our home. Little will it surprise you that to this day, one of my craziest goals is to invent a device that lets humans fly like birds.

What will surprise you is that this dream is one millions of people have, all of the time and it’s no coincidence. When our parents throw us into the air and catch us as children, it’s that exhilaration we’re craving deep down when we dream of flying in later years. Fascinating, right?

Inception might be a bit of a stretch, but what you can learn about your dreams in the real world still holds lot of potential for getting to know and improving your own psyche. And who better to learn it from than the founder of psychoanalysis himself, Sigmund Freud?

Here are 3 lessons from one of his most important works, The Interpretation of Dreams:

All dreams serve to fulfill our wishes, but most of them obscure which wish it truly is.

There are three different sources for the “stuff that dreams are made of.”

Dreams are arranged through condensing, displacement and coherence.

I don’t know what you dream of, but whatever it is, after this you will know why. Here we go!

Lesson 1: Dreams always aim to fulfill our deepest desires, but they often hide which desire it is.

To be honest I can rarely remember my dreams. When I do, I’m almost disappointed when the dream is about something really obvious, like me suddenly becoming super rich or successful. These kinds of wishes aren’t special. Most people have them. There isn’t much to learn.

Another obvious desire your dreams want to fulfill for you is being lazy. If you dream about relaxing, lying in bed all day or living at the beach, free from worry, the innate human longing for lethargy is at play. However, quite often, our dreams successfully mask the deep and sometimes obscure desires in our hearts.

For example, one of Freud’s patients dreamed her youngest nephew Charles was lying dead in an open casket. When they analyzed her situation, it turned out the dream was about her suppressed love for a professor whose relationship with the family had gone awry. The last time she’d seen him was at the funeral of Charles’s older brother Otto, one of the rare events they both attended.

Her only way to see him again would have been if Charles had died – so that’s what her mind showed her. Crazy, right? That’s why reading dreams is a bit like reading between the lines in newspapers where journalists are censored. You have to look for what’s not obvious to find the truth.

Lesson 2: The content of your dreams originates from three different sources.

We often dream about what happened on the same day or the one before, but real-life events are just one of three sources of dream content:

Recent, real-life events. Anything that happened in the past 24 hours, or even the last week. If you bumped into Mr. Gartner, maybe he’ll show up. These often connect to other memories too, so you might dream about a garden you once visited, because Mr. Gartner’s name sounds similar.

Childhood memories. If we dream about it often enough, we might be able to identify definite, distant memories that ended up defining who we are. Freud’s dad told him he wouldn’t amount to anything when he was really young, so with each new success and award ceremony, dreams of embarrassing moments would come back.

Bodily stimuli. If you’ve ever had a wet dream, you’ve experienced this. But any physical influence on your body will transcend into your dreams while you’re asleep. For example, if you sleep on a plane and it starts shaking, you might get dizzy in your dream.

There are lots of places to find “the stuff that dreams are made of.” Now you know what it is. But how does your brain put it together?

Lesson 3: Your mind structures your dreams by condensing, displacing and coherently arranging their contents.

Maybe you’ve heard the expression of “weaving dreams.” Given the three types of “wool” used to create them and how your mind puts them together, that’s actually not too far off. Your dreams get their structure in three ways:

Condensing. Half a page of writing down your dream’s timeline might require six pages of written interpretation. That’s the power of compression. For example, if you see a new sports car you like and watched a spy movie three years ago, your dream might combine both and turn you into a racing super agent.

Displacement. Important matters are often represented in trivialities in dreams. You might be bored and unengaged at your job, but in your dream the only reference to that is that the license plate of your sports car reads “B0R1NG.”

Coherence. No matter how different the actual events and memories, your brain will always bring all your dreams’ elements into a logical sequence. It might feel strange to dream about a fellow racer riding on a lawnmower, but if those are the two elements, your mind will connect them in the most logical way.

When you look at where the elements of a dream come from and how they’re pieced together, you can now understand why dreams are often surreal and so hard to interpret. What will you do with this knowledge?

I guess I can only dream about that.

My personal take-aways

 The Interpretation of Dreams is a massive, highly complex, scientific, verbose book. We have only dipped our toe into the water you can now take a leap.

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty Summary

Categories BehaviourPosted on

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty reveals our motivation behind cheating, why it’s not entirely rational, and, based on many experiments, what we can do to lessen the conflict between wanting to get ahead and being good people.

Why do we cheat? What is it that causes us to write test answers on our hands, take our roommate’s Coke and lie about our age?

Dan Ariely really wants to know. He’s a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and he’s fascinated by the way we make decisions, especially in an economic context.

This is his third book on the subject of irrationality and how it influences our tendency to cheat.

Here are 3 good lessons to walk away with:

You don’t decide to cheat based on rational thinking.

  • You’re more likely to cheat when there’s a psychological distance between you and cheating.
  • Don’t wear fake designer clothes. Ever.
  • Ready to cheat a little less? Here we go!

Lesson 1: The decision to cheat is not a rational one.

When I ask you how you think people decide whether to cheat when they have a chance to, or not, you’ll probably say something like:

“Well, they consider how much they can get from cheating and then of course how likely it is for them to be caught. I guess the consequences will also play a role.”

Yup, that’s the picture we usually paint for ourselves – we’re so rational, right?

Actually, we’re not.

None of these things have as big an influence on cheating as you think.

Ariely did an experiment where people took a math test and were promised 50 cents for each correct answer. In one group, all answers were checked for correctness, in the other, they weren’t.

Of course, people in the second group cheated, they reported 6 solved problems on average, as opposed to 4 in the normal group.

However, even when the reward for each single answer went up to $10, people didn’t cheat more – the average remained 6 for the number of reported problems in the group without checking their results.

When he tweaked this experiment and allowed people in 3 different groups to shred either half or the entire sheet, plus eventually pay themselves from a big bowl of money, cheating remained the same on average as well.

Even though the likelihood to be caught was a lot less from each group to the next, this didn’t seem to influence how much people cheated at all.

So no, potential gains and likelihood of getting caught don’t really influence how much you cheat.

Then what does?

Lesson 2: You’re more likely to cheat when there’s a psychological distance between you and the deed.

It’s about who you’re cheating to and what for.

Whether you’re not correcting the waitress who gives you back too much cash or cheating on your spouse, now that makes a big difference!

You don’t know the waitress at all, and after all, it’s her mistake if she gives you back too much money. There’s a big psychological distance between you and cheating, and this makes it easier for you to accept it.

But when you’re about to cheat on the person you love the most and you know it’s entirely in your control and based on your own actions, justifying making the next move becomes a lot harder.

Ariely tested this by placing a six-pack of Coke in the fridge of a student dorm and six $1 bills in the fridge of another. In both cases the students knew these items were off limits.

While the $1 bills remained in the fridge safe and sound, ALL Cokes were stolen.


Because it’s much tougher to steal money than it is to steal something that was purchased with it.

There’s one more step between you and the deed and that makes it more likely for you to cheat.

Lesson 3: Stop wearing fake designer clothes. It’ll only make it worse.

Where’d you get those Gucci shades?

Hope you didn’t buy them in some tourist souvenir store or, even worse, from a guy on the street, because wearing them will make you more likely to cheat.


Because consciously performing some dishonest act, no matter how small, makes it more likely for others to follow.

Ariely proved this in the following experiment:

3 groups of participants were given designer sunglasses to wear during a Math test – well, maybe not during, but they could keep the glasses.

One group was told the glasses were authentic, one was told they’re fakes and the control group wasn’t told anything.

Each participant had the chance to cheat on the test. From the control group, 42% did, establishing that as the average (which is a shocking statistic in itself, if you ask me).

For the authentic group, this went down to 30% – knowing they had the real deal boosted their self-image.

But for the fakes group, cheating went up to 74%, meaning 3 in 4 people cheated!

Once you’ve justified doing something wrong, you’re more likely to justify it again or even take the next step, so yeah, you can throw out those fake sunglasses.

My personal take-aways

Maybe it was just the way this particular summary was written and Blinkist’s writers had an extra eye for detail here, but I’ve never read a summary on there that was so packed with experiments and studies.

This is really cool about Dan Ariely, he does all of his research himself. He’s not too much of a theorist, instead, he just goes out and does the experiments necessary to find out.

A good foray into this field of research. I suggest you read it and also watch one of Dan’s TED talks (I like this one) to see if these topics resonate with you.

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