by Megan McDonough

The words we speak, the actions we take, and the intentions we hold in our heart either lift or diminish—both ourselves and others.

This past weekend, I was with a group of CiPP students and alumni, and one person from the New York City area shared how much she felt the Pope’s presence in the Northeast had affected the overall atmosphere. There was a sense of lift in the air, as more attention was paid to kindness and compassion. She noticed that, in the past few days, many more people were stopping to give money to a homeless man who stands at the same stop light every day. She had never seen so many people giving to him over all her years of commuting along this route.

Clearly, in her eyes, the Pope had a lifting affect of positive change far beyond the scope of those able to participate firsthand in his visit.

According to researchers Robert and Ryan Quinn, authors of Lift: Becoming a Positive Force in Any Situation, we can have a “lifting attitude” when we are in a psychological state that is:

Purpose centered: living with a sense of meaning, a bigger vision of the “why” behind the “what” of actions
Internally directed: feeling a sense of control as you live your values, closing the gap between beliefs and action
Other focused: having a collaborative outlook that allows you to see the validity of another’s thoughts and feelings
Externally open: able to hear feedback, change course, and expand creative perspective as we interact with others.

Join Dr. Robert Quinn as he discusses the concept of lift in our next Authentic Leadership webinar on Monday, October 26, at 7:00 pm EST.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into the concept and practice of becoming a positive force of lift, find out more about the Certificate in Positive Psychology program, our yearlong foundational course on the science of human flourishing, which begins in just a couple of weeks.

May each action you take today aim high—toward the lift we are all capable of being and creating for ourselves and others.


Megan McDonough is CEO of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest.

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