10 Ways the "Miracle Emotion" Can Help You Finish Your Dissertation | Issue 216



As Thanksgiving season approaches in the U.S., consider how you can parlay the sentiments into a more positive and productive dissertation experience. And for our Canadian friends, keep savoring your recent holiday as well.

"Gratitude is the new miracle emotion," asserts psychologist Jeremy Dean in PsyBlog.

His recent post shared 10 ways that gratitude can improve your life. How many of these proven benefits would make your dissertation experience more positive and productive?


  • It is one of the fastest and best ways to become happier. 

  • Grateful people feel more satisfied with their lives by enabling them to appreciate what they have rather than mourning what's missing.

  • Saying "thank you" motivates others to help you again because people appreciate being needed and valued.

  • Gratitude for what you have can combat materialism.

  • Feeling thankful can increase self-control by reducing impatience and selfishness.

  • Grateful children feel life has more meaning, get more satisfaction from life, are happier and experience less negative emotions. [Ed. Note: And that may be true for adults as well.]

  • Gratitude towards one's partner is key to solidifying relationships and benefits both the giver and the recipient.

  • Gratitude is linked to better social ties and facilitates forming and nurturing them.

  • Grateful people experience greater health, especially bet ter sleep, and lower stress levels.

  • A person with a grateful attitude has more resilience, i.e., can bounce back better from setbacks and challenges through active coping, seeking social support, and positive reframing.


Boost your gratitude, Dean advises, in various ways: contemplate your blessings, keep a gratitude journal, remember the bad times to appreciate the present, and use your senses to notice what is around you.



Join us for Ben Dean's question-and-answer call with Robert A. Emmons, PhD, the world's leading scientific expert on gratitude, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis and author of the new book, The Little Book of Gratitude.

DATE: Friday, December 2, 2016 
TIME: 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Eastern (New York time) 




If your overflowing email inbox provokes anxiety, take heart. In Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done, Jocelyn K. Glei urges forgetting about "inbox zero" and instead develop a process to tame the email dragon.

If you are typical, you are spending 28% of your work week on email, checking it 11 times an hour, and processing 122 messages daily, she notes. And you probably feel stressed and unproductive.

Overcome your email addiction by implementing her simple strategies, as shared in Salon:

Stop toggling between email and work. One study showed that could lowered people's IQ the equivalent of 10 points while giving you a false sense of productivity.

Read emails in batches. Do it outside of peak productivity times (usually in the morning from 9 - 11 or 10 - 12) which is when you should focus on your most important work. Data find "batchers" to be more productive, happier, and less stressed than the "reactors" who process messages as they come in.

Set expectations about replies. Train senders to stop expecting a reply in five minutes. If necessary, send a short note saying that you are tied up but that their message is important and you'll get back to them by the end of the day or tomorrow.

Leverage emotional intelligence in your own messages. Show empathy for their workload and understand that your email may not receive top priority. Express gratitude for "taking time to consider my request" (and never an order). Thank a person for replying—that one little gesture doubles the chances that they will help you in the future.

Pick up the phone for challenging conversations. A five-minute phone call can forestall a 20-email exchange and misunderstandings as emails are often interpreted more negatively than intended by the sender.



Can't focus when you need to? It could be your brain needs better maintenance. To keep it humming on all cylinders, tweak your meals and snacks to include more of these "smart foods" recommended by WebMD:

  1. Drink coffee for short-term alertness. Don't overdo it or you may get the jitters.

  2. Down a sweet drink in a pinch to boost your brain fuel, i.e., glucose. [Ed: But skip artificially sweetened drinks.]

  3. Researchers recommend a breakfast of high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Note: High-calorie meals appear to hinder concentration.

  4. Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids twice a week for long-term functioning. specially as we get older.

  5. Enjoy an ounce of chocolate and nuts as they provide powerful antioxidant properties. [Ed: Choose dark chocolate for maximum benefit and fewer sugar calories.]

  6. Adding avocados and whole grains enhances the blood flow needed for a healthy heart and brain. Savor that popcorn, too.

  7. Diets rich in blueberries reduce free radical damage and improve learning. Imagine the possibilities!




As academic job prospects dim, Duke University's humanities graduate programs plan to be on the forefront. With a recent three-year $350,000 grant from NEH, they will enhance curriculum and expand career opportunities.

"Getting the grant from the NEH is recognition of Duke's effort in preparing its Ph.D.'s in humanities for different career pathways," she said. "We don't call it 'alternative pathway.' Our view is that there are so many things that an individual can do with a Ph.D. in humanities, [and that] we just need to help them decide what they will do."

While many of Duke's humanities PhDs do find a tenure-track job, others are employed in academic administration, non-governmental organizations and academic publishing as the skills are very transferable.

Editor: We salute Duke for putting this on the radar screen there and assuring that their students have access to supportive professional guidance and career exploration and preparation opportunities.




An accomplished coach, workshop leader, keynote speaker, and educator, Gayle earned her doctorate in social psychology from the University of New Hampshire. Her deep expertise in positive psychology allows her to help clients build their personal strengths, positive habits, and confidence to overcome procrastination, self-doubts and other blocks in order to reach vital academic and personal goals. In addition to editing the ABD Survival Guide, she contributed two chapters to the positive psychology anthology, Women's Paths to Happiness. Contact her at gayle@essencecoaching.com for coaching, presentations, and workshops on thriving in graduate school and beyond, and find free resource www.essencecoaching.com 

BEN DEAN, Publisher, ABDSG
Ben holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He began writing the ABDSG in 1997. Over the years, the ABDSG has published hundreds of articles and provided thousands of hours of pro bono coaching and teleworkshops to ABDs all over the world. Ben is also the founder of MentorCoach (www.MentorCoach.com), a virtual university focused on training accomplished professionals to become part-time or full-time coaches. You may wish to subscribe to the Coaching Toward Happiness eNewsletter! It's on applying the science of Positive Psychology to your work and life (131,000 readers). Ben lives in suburban Maryland with his wife, Janice, their two children, and Dusty, their Norwegian dwarf bunny.



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