Practical Tools for Purpose
In exploring the human experience of purpose, the NPP project has identified several core themes that are particularly significant, and which provide a useful framework for organizing our activities. This page displays the content from this website tagged for one of those themes: Practical Tools for Purpose.
With work on Practical Tools for Purpose, we acknowledge that although people routinely strive to achieve their intended goals and aspirations, they are not always as successful as they would like to be, and successful individual strategies for achieving intended goals are not readily translated to broader audiences. Accordingly, we ask: What tools would allow the benefits of purpose to be realized in policy, educational, medical, and organizational settings? What interventions—at the individual level, the group level, or the societal level—can best promote the adoption, pursuit, and achievement of purpose in human life? How can the impact of such interventions be quantified and sustained across time? See below for content related to our emerging insights.
Blog Posts See All Types »
A Green Way of Boosting Your Productivity
Many of us spend the majority of our waking hours in offices of one sort or another. Therefore, figuring out how to enhance workplace satisfaction and engagement would go a long way toward leading a purposeful life. A recent study by an international team of psychologists revealed that you can spice up your office life by simply sprucing up your office with a little greenery.
Too much of a good thing: Why more talent can hurt a team’s success
Many of our greatest accomplishments come from successful teamwork. Winning a baseball game, finishing a start-up’s first important project, or treating a friend to an amazing surprise birthday party would be impossible if not done in a team. Although intuition often leads us to believe that the key to a team’s success is having the most talented players, recent research suggests that idea of having too much talent may exist.
How to Win Friends by Giving Thanks
The surprising long reign of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People on the best-seller list undoubtedly attests to the importance of friendship and other social relations to a meaningful and successful life. This fact leads people to try many things to make friends. However, Is it possible that in our fervent quest for that sure-fire relation-building technique, we have lost sight of a simpler way to make friends? Recent research suggests that a cultural practice that we all seem to loathe is actually an effective way of winning friends.
Finding Happiness in Remembrances of Things Past
Who among us has not smiled and felt a sense of accomplishment and purpose when reminiscing about past triumphs? Of course, our past is not just a highlight reel and is filled with uneventful happenings hardly seem worthy of a place in our finite memory. However, is it possible that these often forgotten experiences could actually be a source of happiness and purpose too? Kim Zhang and colleagues' recent work suggests that we do indeed get joy from a Proustian rediscovery of lost time and undervalue the joy we get from such rediscovery.
How to make the first step less daunting: The importance of seeing the future as now
Taking the first step is of the utmost importance to the success of any endeavor. As the Greek sage Aristotle once said, “Well begun is half done”. We know that it is important to start our goals, yet we frequently ignore this wisdom in our daily lives, procrastinating rather than pursuing our purpose. Is there any way to rectify this situation? Recent research by Yanping Tu and Professor Dilip Soman suggests that simply altering your mental perspective could help nudge you toward taking the first step.
Bringing More Purpose to Your Commute
Human beings are an extremely social species, yet we tend to be hesitant about interacting with strangers. Trains and waiting rooms are often silent vaults filled with people fixated on small screens. Although this has become the norm, might these moments of solitude be robbing us of an opportunity to experience joy and purpose in our lives? New research from Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder suggests that talking to strangers is more fun and productive than you likely think is will be.
Inside the Science of Purpose: Professor David Rand
David Rand in an interview for our “Inside the Science of Purpose” series: “External incentives, like threats of punishment for selfish behavior or promises of reward for cooperative behavior, can be very effective at getting people to cooperate. But these external incentives often undermine intrinsic motivations – if you feel like you are being prosocial under duress, this prevents you from deriving a sense of purpose and meaning from your actions. Thus we are exploring ways to incentivize good behavior that are somewhat more subtle, and so may leave intrinsic motivations intact.”
Gratitude helps ward off temptation
Do our emotions always stand in the way to self-control? Recent research led by Professor David Desteno suggests that feeling grateful can actually help us resist temptations that can derail our pursuit of a meaningful life. Read the full post to understand why.
Inside the Science of Purpose: Yaacov Trope
Yaacov Trope in an interview for our “Inside the Science of Purpose” series: “I have learned that a sense of purpose comes from the ability to alternate between zooming in and zooming out of the immediate situation. Zooming out of the situation affords gaining a broad perspective, distinguishing between one’s primary purpose and secondary concerns, and setting clear priorities. Zooming in affords focusing on the prioritized course of action, unequivocally pursuing it, and ignoring distractors.”
Inside the Science of Purpose: Jenessa Shapiro
What can we do to help students from minority groups live up to their academic potential? Read our interview with NPP researcher Professor Jenessa Shapiro, in which she discusses this question, connecting purpose, stereotype threat, and college success.