College of Missouri

From left, Ken Sheldon and his two sons, Tristan Sheldon and Cam Sheldon, are pictured on high of Wind River Peak in Wyoming. Photograph courtesy Ken Sheldon.

Feb. 13, 2023

Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346,

Creativity is what makes Ken Sheldon tick and retains him joyful.

A Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Psychology on the College of Missouri, Sheldon is an element tutorial, half rockhound, half musician, half photographer — and extra lately, he’s a author, too.

“I worth creativity most in life,” he mentioned. “I like the joy of creating new connections and creating issues. I’ve this form of stressed power, so I wish to make issues and do issues and write issues. It feels nearly pretty much as good as something.”

His rockhounding days began years in the past when he and his spouse had been in grad college. They’d take summers off and hit the street.

Tristan Sheldon, certainly one of Ken Sheldon’s sons, holds up a rock known as a Carnelian agate whereas on the west coast of the USA in Oregon. Photograph courtesy Ken Sheldon.

A glass piece made out of uncommon rocks known as agates that was designed by Ken Sheldon. Photograph courtesy Ken Sheldon.

“We’ve all the time taken our children with us wherever we go,” Sheldon mentioned. “We do a whole lot of backpacking journeys up within the mountains. That is often the place I can discover the uncommon rocks.”

He’s particularly keen on uncommon rocks like agates, which he has used to design gorgeous stained-glass home windows in his dwelling.

“I can take this rock known as an agate, slice it, and put them collectively to make stained glass. When mild comes by way of it, it seems actually cool with a number of colours and patterns,” Sheldon mentioned. “I assume it began once I was little; I keep in mind I had a rock assortment once I was 8 or 9 years previous.”

When Sheldon isn’t touring together with his household or educating as a professor, he will be discovered enjoying tennis, photographing nature or making music.

“I’m additionally a keyboard participant and composer,” Sheldon mentioned. “For the final 10 years, I used to be in a band right here in Columbia known as the Hellbenders primarily based on the endangered Ozark salamander.”

The Hellbenders performed eclectic music with folks influences throughout Columbia, however Sheldon’s spectacular musical expertise didn’t come as a shock. He accomplished his senior honors thesis on melodic notion.

Sheldon has studied quite a few psychological ideas together with enlightenment, happiness and intrinsic motivation, and a big a part of his analysis covers the pursuit of happiness. For example, in his new guide Freely decided: What the brand new psychology of the self teaches us about tips on how to reside, he focuses on the idea of free will interlaced with self-determination.

Ken Sheldon stands among the many mountains of the Wind River Vary in Wyoming. Photograph courtesy Ken Sheldon.

“Rising up, my stepdad, despite the fact that he was a regulation professor, challenged me on the free will query, which is a part of how I received into the subject of this guide,” Sheldon mentioned. “He and I had a whole lot of mental debate, going forwards and backwards. So, throughout the pandemic I simply began writing about free will.”

Sheldon has written eight tutorial books previously, however his latest guide is completely different.

“The primary half of the guide is all about why free will could be actual and determinism could be false,” he mentioned. “The second half of the guide covers self-concordance. We actually do select and choose our objectives, however can we do it properly? The ultimate a part of the guide talks about what happiness is and the way do you get it?”

A glass piece made out of uncommon rocks known as agates that was designed by Ken Sheldon. Photograph courtesy Ken Sheldon.

After attending seminar coaching, workshops and researching the idea of happiness for a number of a long time, Sheldon has seen a central theme emerge alongside the way in which.

“I all the time assume again to the phrase within the Declaration of Independence that we must always have the ‘proper to pursue happiness’ as a elementary American proper,” Sheldon mentioned. “I feel that’s extremely good recommendation, as a result of life is an experiment and we’re attempting to determine what makes us joyful and what doesn’t. It is so vital to have the ability to pursue that and study out of your errors. That’s certainly one of my largest findings in spite of everything my years of analysis.”

Story written by Erin O’Connell