Passages #34

Psychological Capital: one’s positive appraisal of circumstances and probability for success based on motivated effort and perseverance.

This is a remarkable definition. First, it claims that the amount of “reserves” we have at any given time is primarily a result of our perception (appraisal). This would imply that we can increase our psychological capital just by seeing things differently.

Second, it is not only our perception of “how things are going” (real circumstances) that matters, but our expectation of “how things will probably go” (probability of future success). As we saw previously, this expectation is represented in the mind by moods — when you’re in a bad mood, you expect everything to go terribly. When you’re in a good mood, you expect everything to be great.

What this means is that we don’t have to “convince” our rational minds that the future is rosier than we think. That is a futile undertaking anyway, since it is difficult to use the rational mind to convince the rational mind of anything. Instead, we can change our expectations of the future at a more fundamental level, by creating a series of unexpected rewards to prime more positive moods, essentially “faking” momentum until it becomes real.

Besides obvious methods like taking a break, getting some sleep, eating a good meal, or spending time with loved ones, how can we design our work to take advantage of this phenomenon?

Positive psychologist Csikszentmihalyi noted that psychological capital “is developed through a pattern of investment of psychic resources that results in obtaining experiential rewards from the present moment while also increasing the likelihood of future benefit.

In other words, we can create the perception of momentum by 1) structuring our work to produce experiential rewards now, and 2) completing our work in such a way that it increases the likelihood of benefit in the future.

This creates a positively sloping and exponential line, each day reaping the rewards of past work sessions, enjoying the present activity, and laying the groundwork for future activity. Source 

Basically ancient wisdom registered through the vocabulary of modern psychology. The rest of the article is good too.