Despite having to spend considerable time adjusting my curriculum and course schedules for five classes to fit the rare closure of our campus six days this wintery spring 2019 semester in Wisconsin, I still managed to discover some new lifelong learning gems this February. Here it goes…
My Favorite Book
On February 5, Dr. Cal Newport released Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, which follows up on his popular 2016 book (and another of my favorites), Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. In Digital Minimalism, Dr. Newport offers a “philosophy of technology use” rooted in personal values to help clarify the technology tools we should use and how and the technology tools we should ignore and why. He offers strong arguments to suggest that “intermittent positive reinforcement and the drive or social approval” leads to technology-related behavioral addictions that stifle our autonomy and “control more and more how we spend our time, how we feel, and how we behave.”
After defending the principles that guide the Digital Minimalism philosophy, Dr. Newport carefully delineates The Digital Declutter Process, which involves taking a purposeful 30-day break from optional technologies, exploring and rediscovering more “satisfying and meaningful” activities and behaviors, and then reintroducing only those optional technologies that fully serve our values with the least possible harm to our autonomy.
Dr. Newport’s three key practices – spend time alone, don’t click like, and reclaim leisure – certainly seem worth pondering. While I haven’t fully joined the “attention resistance,” I’m deleting apps from my smart phone, introducing more solitude into my day, trying to spend more time away from my phone, finding more opportunities for face-to-face conversation, pondering what technologies are truly optional, and reconsidering my deep values.
To learn more about Digital Minimalism, check out these articles and podcast episodes:
My Favorite Podcast
Bestselling author and @nytimes columnist Carl Zimmer (@carlzimmer) released a provocative eight-episode podcast series, What is Life?, to explore the nature of life. Each episode features an interview with leading thinkers on life, including:
Each interview offers deep insights into the (possible) nature of life and certainly inspires curiosity about the nature and purpose of life. Thankfully, Carl Zimmer includes a number of suggested links with each episode for further exploration and learning.
My Favorite MOOC
The Science of Happiness at Work
Thank you, University of California at Berkeley, for sharing the professional certificate program, The Science of Happiness at Work, on edX. The series includes three superb four-week online courses, including:
The series is a follow-up to the “first MOOC to teach positive psychology,” The Science of Happiness.
While the entire certificate program is currently just over $400, I am grateful that edX still allows students to audit the courses at no cost. Each course includes excellent video lectures and opportunities to explore key concepts by completing and reflecting on self-assessments. If you incorporate positive psychology into your curriculum whenever you can (which I do), you will find many gems in the course. In addition, the Happiness at Work series offers insights that are valuable in today’s high stress academic work environment.
My Favorite New Learning Resource
My favorite Greater Good Science Center website resource is the Greater Good in Action library, where you will find research-tested practices for building happiness, resilience, kindness, and connection. These practices can be easily incorporated into many psychology courses.
To fully explore each practice, consider listening to the Greater Good Science Center’s podcast, The Science of Happiness. Each episode features a person learning and then engaging in one of the practices with the guidance of social psychologist Dr. Dacher Keltner, Founding Director.
My Favorite Media