Judith Glück is a wisdom researcher and knows that life satisfaction can be increased
Judith Glück, born 1969, is a wisdom researcher. Since 2007 she has been working as a professor of developmental psychology at the Institute for Psychology at the Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt. Her research focuses on development in adulthood and the psychology of wisdom. The publishing house “Kösel Verlag” publishes her book "Wisdom. The 5 Principles of a Successful Life ".
>>There is an amazing variety of literature on happiness. You, too, have published a book about a successful life. Is there a particular longing for happiness?
Hm, of course most people would agree that they want to be happy. But in our real life this is simply not always possible. I think what there is above all is a longing to live a good life. For many people, this simply means finding out what is actually the right life for them personally. I perceive a very great interest of many people in topics such as wisdom - which is my primary research topic.
>>That's right, you're a wisdom researcher. Are wisdom researchers themselves wise? A little bit, anyway?
A little bit wiser than before, perhaps. One learns a lot from the wise people with whom one comes into contact through this research topic. But in the end, wisdom shows itself above all in the difficult situations of life, and there is a big difference between theoretical knowledge about how to deal with a situation and what you actually do when you are emotionally strongly involved. In this respect, I do not know how practical my knowledge of wisdom is.
>>Do you need difficult situations in life to gain wisdom? Or can wisdom also be gained theoretically? For example, by reading or by attending discussion events on this topic?
In our research work, we assume that real insights into life can only be gained if we are, at least to a certain extent, experientially involved. Then it can of course also be reading or a discussion event, which brings the knowledge. For example, if you are currently dealing intensively with the question of how to deal with a difficult problem in child education, something that someone on television or a stranger on a train trip says about this topic can change the perspective and perhaps the whole life. Someone who is not affected may find the statement interesting, but the statement does not change him. In this respect, we already believe that it is the difficult situations in life that can promote wisdom, but not through theoretical debate. Only what we have experienced can change our lives.
>>Is it possible to change a lot about life satisfaction? Or is it largely genetically determined?
There's a lot you can do about it. It's true that people have a certain temperament from birth - some babies are cheerful, friendly and content, receive correspondingly friendly reactions from their surroundings and typically remain nice people. Others have a harder time with themselves and the world, but it is precisely those who can develop far. Studies show that relatively simple measures can permanently change life satisfaction.
For example, to think about what you are grateful for in your life, to deliberately try to forgive someone or to exercise mindfulness. Psychotherapy has been proven to be effective. In our studies we see that wise people have intensively studied themselves and learned what they really need in life. By being at ease with themselves and living in harmony with their needs, they can also be unselfish for other people.
>>The name of a person is usually a coincidence, so you don't go into more detail when reporting. But I have to ask you: You are called “Glück” (German for happiness) and deal with happiness: Does one thing have something to do with the other?
On this question I usually say that I am a wisdom researcher, not a happiness researcher. However, I originally came to wisdom research by chance when Paul Baltes, then director of the Max Planck Institute for Research in Education in Berlin, offered me a job in 1998 and then assigned me to the wisdom topic - I never really knew exactly why, maybe he did it because of my name?
>>With the beginning of a new year, many people undertake to live happier and happier lives. What do you think of such intentions?
Unfortunately, they can rarely be implemented in the long term. This is also the problem that, on a purely rational level, we are well aware of what we need to change - smoking less, doing more sport, being less annoyed and so on. But what you don't want to do is usually not so rationally controlled. Changing one's behaviour in the long term can be very difficult. Nevertheless, the intentions are meaningful - at least making it clear how one wants to live is certainly a first step.
Interview: Ronald Meyer-Arlt
Source: Ronald Meyer-Arlt: This is Frau Glück. In Leipziger Volkszeitung of 09.01.2018, No. 7, page 7