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The Upside of Your Dark Side

Why Being Your Whole Self – Not Just Your “Good” Self – Drives Success and Fulfillment

By Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener
16-minute read
Audio available
The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self – Not Just  Your “Good” Self – Drives Success and Fulfillment by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener

The Upside of Your Dark Side looks into the darkest depths of the human psyche, only to discover that the painful emotions that we often wish we could just make go away – anger, anxiety, guilt – are sometimes the key to our success. Backed by many fascinating scientific studies, The Upside of Your Dark Side makes it clear that psychological health means wholeness rather than happiness.

  • Anyone who’s fed up with the happiness-hype in popular psychology
  • Anyone who tries to bottle up his or her negative emotions
  • Anyone interested in psychology

Professor Todd Kashdan is a widely recognized expert on anxiety, self-regulation and well-being, who has published more than 150 scholarly articles. In addition to working as a public speaker, he has also won numerous academic awards and wrote the critically acclaimed book Curious.

Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener is a positive psychologist who has published numerous scholarly articles and conducted research all around the world. He is currently the managing director of Positive Acorn, and his book Happiness won the PROSE Award in 2008.

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The Upside of Your Dark Side

Why Being Your Whole Self – Not Just Your “Good” Self – Drives Success and Fulfillment

By Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self – Not Just  Your “Good” Self – Drives Success and Fulfillment by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener
Synopsis

The Upside of Your Dark Side looks into the darkest depths of the human psyche, only to discover that the painful emotions that we often wish we could just make go away – anger, anxiety, guilt – are sometimes the key to our success. Backed by many fascinating scientific studies, The Upside of Your Dark Side makes it clear that psychological health means wholeness rather than happiness.

Key idea 1 of 10

Your happiness can interfere with your performance and accuracy.

Nowadays, management goes by the mantra that an upbeat mood translates to business success. But while mirthful and content people do get better customer and supervisor evaluations, that doesn’t objectively mean that they are performing better.

For instance, while they might be likeable, happy people are less persuasive.

If you want to persuade others, then you have to communicate your message in a detailed and concrete way. However, happy people tend to focus on the big picture at the expense of the tiny details. Consequently, their arguments are less nuanced and concrete.

Indeed, this can be seen in a number of studies on the persuasiveness of upbeat people:

In these studies, “happy” and “unhappy” people were asked to create arguments about issues ranging from the allocation of tax dollars to the existence of soul mates. In all these studies, unhappy people’s reasoning was judged as 25-percent more convincing than those of happier participants.

What’s more, happy people are more easily deceived and more likely to “recall” false facts than others.

As we’ve already seen, people tend to be less interested in details when they’re happy. But if you want to spot deceit, then you’ll have to look for very subtle cues. This became obvious in one study in which participants were asked to identify liars and honest people in a series of videotapes:

The tapes showed people denying that they had stolen something, only half of whom were telling the truth. Happy participants were able to identify the liars only 49 percent of the time, while unhappy people detected 62 percent of the frauds.

In other experiments in which people had to recall facts or words they’d been presented with before, the happiest among them were the most prone to “recall” items they hadn’t even been shown!

Clearly, happy people are both less persuasive and more gullible. So, how happy do you want your lawyer to be?

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