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Overview of a Talk on Flourishing and Well-being

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch September 18, 2023

Post written by guest blogger Emily Grugan; Postbac IRTA fellow, OITE Summer Program Staff Assistant

On March 27, 2023, a keynote presentation was given at the Consortium of Emotional Well Being Networks’ Annual Investigator Meeting by Dr. Tyler J. VanderWeele on the subject of Flourishing and Emotional Well-Being. Dr. VanderWeele, from Harvard University, is the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Director of the Human Flourishing Program and Co-Director of the Initiative on Health, Spirituality, and Religion at Harvard University. He also writes a blog for Psychology Today about human flourishing.

During his talk, Dr. VanderWeele spoke in-depth about the concept of flourishing – what it is, how it can be measured, current research on the subject, and more. It is worth a watch. But in case you don’t have time, some of the main takeaways are outlined below:

Flourishing can be described as growing or developing in a healthy and vigorous way, or as a state in which all aspects of a person’s life are good. The word brings to mind the image of a healthy tree in full, springtime bloom. When we are flourishing, the goodness can be seen blossoming across all important domains of our lives. A more tangible definition of flourishing might include the following components:

  • Happiness and life satisfaction
  • Physical and mental health
  • Meaning and purpose
  • Character and virtue
  • Close social relationships

It can be worthwhile, as VanderWeele attests himself, to think about the areas in which flourishing is present, or could use improvement, in one’s own life. This can be done as something like an annual or semiannual personal check-up. Here are some questions/statements (a couple to address each of the domains listed above) that you could consider:

  1. How satisfied are you with life as a whole these days?
  2. In general, how happy or unhappy do you usually feel?
  3. In general, how would you rate your physical health?
  4. How would you rate your overall mental health?
  5. Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
  6. I understand my purpose in life.
  7. I always act to promote good in all circumstances, even in difficult challenging situations.
  8. I am always able to give up some happiness now for greater happiness later.
  9. I am content with my friendships and relationships.
  10. My relationships are as satisfying as I would like them to be.

VanderWeele elaborated on the distinction between flourishing and well-being. You can think of these as subsets of one another, where a person could have a good sense of general well-being, for example, but not necessarily be flourishing due to environmental or contextual factors:

  • Flourishing
  • Subset of flourishing: General Well-being
  • Subset of General Well-being: Mental Well-being
  • Subset of Mental Well-being: Emotional Well-being

As outlined above, there are many components of life that contribute to our ability to flourish. Each of these components is fluid; our emotional and mental well-being can fluctuate often (for better and for worse) in response to changes we face and interactions we have. This, in turn, impacts our general well-being and subsequently our capacity to flourish. Of course, this is life. There will be good times and bad. However, when we have the means by which to assess our current circumstance (like by using the questions above), we can better pinpoint gaps and room for improvement. We can use these tools when making important choices: How will this job offer affect the domains of flourishing in my life? Will accepting this work/social/personal opportunity help or hinder my ability to flourish? Will the career path I am currently pursuing continue to foster flourishing in the years ahead?

A final consideration is that one important component of well-being is growth. And growth often comes from times in which we feel we are not flourishing or are struggling in a particular domain. We can rest assured, then, that even periods of difficulty or low levels of flourishing can be a helpful and necessary part of getting to a point of greater flourishing in the future.


Using AI for Your Job Search Documents

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch September 11, 2023

AI has infiltrated the hiring process. As we noted in our blog post “The Resume Black Hole” most employers are using applicant tracking systems to scan your submitted documents. Job search platforms like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and Monster all use language-processing AI tools to filter applications. In fact, the CEO of ZipRecruiter estimated that AI algorithms process at least 75% of all resume applications in the United States.

One of the touted benefits is that AI is objective, and recruiters are subjective.  Using AI will help ensure that every application is analyzed.  However, this also means that straightforward, keyword-optimized applications are just as important as having the right qualifications.

What Should Job Seekers Do?
First and foremost, it is important for job seekers to understand the system.  Too often, we still hear that people are creating one general resume, CV, or cover letter and using it broadly.Take advantage of the AI tools available to help with your own search. Some of the main benefits to using AI is that it can help ensure you produce quality, well-tailored documents in a speedy fashion.Using these tools can also be a way to provide inspiration as you get started crafting your documents.

Tools like ChatGPT run on prompts for what it should write. You will need to provide enough background information for the prompt to run effectively. Provide context and be as specific as possible – ChatGPT is a very powerful tool and it can handle being given a lot of direction at once.

While we do not recommend using these tools to create a brand-new resume/CV, it can very effectively help you perfect the documents you have started.  Many of the AI tools create resumes with antiquated sections. It can create the structure of a new resume for you, but you will need to humanize it and make sure this document makes sense in real life.  As it stands now, these tools are not going to entirely replace writing your resume, which is good, because remember: you will also need to know your documents very well for the eventual interview.

AI tools are excellent though for finding inspiration and for polishing your text. With that in mind here are some suggested ChatGPT prompts you can use to improve your resume/CV.

  • (Copy and past job description) à Showcase the top five relevant skills I should highlight for this position. à Regenerate a few times to get new ideas
  • Tailor my resume for this job description à (Copy and paste resume and job description)
  • Write three resume bullet points for a scientist role that includes impact and metrics.
  • Write a 300-word qualifications summary that includes the keywords Python and R.
  • Please review my resume and suggest improvement for better clarity and impact.
  • Write a qualifications summary that is 100 words or less based on this resume. à Shift Enter: Copy & paste your resume
  • (Copy & paste a small section of bullet points) à Rewrite these bullet points for a Science Policy role.
  • Get inspired! Can you provide examples of powerful resume bullet point for “Program Manager” roles?
  • Create a resume summary based on my LinkedIn profile.  à Shift Enter: copy and paste your LI profile copy
  • ChatGPT can handle long, detailed prompts! Write a tailored resume for this ROLE at COMPANY. Don’t include an objective statement or references, but do include a professional summary, my past 12 years of work experience and at least five bullet points per role while incorporating the most important keywords from this job description. à (Copy & paste job description)
    • When asking ChatGPT to create a new resume from scratch, remember to review it carefully.  It will likely not be ready to hand in as is; you will need to use this framework as a starting point to make it your own.

Create a Thriving Workforce by Embracing Neurodiversity

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch September 25, 2023

Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in different ways. It has become an umbrella term often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and learning differences (dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, etc). Neurodiversity is a neurological concept, and it has become a social movement. It has  emerged as one of the final frontiers in diversity debates. Despite most companies’ increasing focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), neurodiversity has largely been overlooked in this realm until recently.  In the world of work, employers are increasingly recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusivity in all areas.

A recent report from the tech training agency Sparta Global highlights the benefit that neurodiverse staff bring to the workplace. One key finding was that neurodiverse teams showed higher adaptability levels and were able to problem solve and address complex issues quickly and efficiently.  In 2022, Deloitte released an article noting that “organizations that make an extra effort to recruit, retain, and nurture neurodivergent workers can gain a competitive edge from increased diversity in skills, ways of thinking, and approaches to problem-solving.

There is a wide spectrum of neurodiverse individuals – from those who cannot live/work independently to those who have reached the highest professional ranks. Many employees feel a lot of trepidation about disclosing a diagnosis. This is a sensitive issue, but many have also experienced the first-hand benefits of revealing neurodiversity in the workplace as shared in this article from the Financial Times.  One contributor felt extremely burnt out by work and didn’t realize how much of this was due to sensory overload, social interactions, and the effort involved in masking autistic traits. The Sparta Global report notes that historically, most people do not disclose to anyone at work.

Improving the Workplace for Neurodiverse Employees

According to the Deloitte article, there are a few key moves that senior leaders and managers should make – focusing on recruitment, training/mentoring, and workplace accommodations.

Recruit with inclusivity in mind –

When hiring, examine the recruitment screening tools and interviews. It might be more beneficial to give applicants tasks and questions that match the job qualifications rather than abstract questions. Some hiring managers even consider it a best practice to outline the structure and expectation of the interview, even going so far as providing the questions ahead of the interview.

Provide support and mentoring –

Creating a supportive network is crucial for professional growth and well-being. Allowing for different behaviors and traits helps employees feel confident about disclosing their diagnosis. Some companies offer mentoring programs or support groups that provide a platform for sharing experiences and seeking advice from colleagues.

Accommodate individual needs –

Workplace adjustments can include noise-canceling headphones, reducing the brightness of office lighting, and supporting work from home and flexible work schedules. Recognizing and adapting to these needs allows employees to perform at their best while fostering a culture of inclusivity and success.

Tailoring jobs to meet an individuals’ skills and interests, mentoring programs, and allowing for different ways of working and communicating improves outcomes from both neurodivergent and neurotypical employee, ultimately positively impacting the organization as a whole.