Happiness is a skill, not something that might just happen

Tuesday, 24 February, 2015

To be happy, you have to work at being happy, you have to become skilled in being happy, this from gaming website Polygon:

I’ve often heard that happiness is a skill, not a feeling, and I realized how little time I was spending working on the skill of happiness, while waiting passively for the feeling to reach me.

And then there’s this:

If you have a large family or simply many obligations in life – and this is just about everyone – setting concrete, workable goals for what games you want to play or books you want to read and chipping away at the list in an organized manner may make a huge difference in how you approach your free time. These things became fun again, instead of feeling like obligations that waited for me at the end of every day.

Listing out everything you need to do, and almost rationing time to action said objectives, may not result in a life that’s particularly spontaneous, but it is about the only way to do everything. But don’t worry about that lack of spontaneity, we live in far too chaotic a universe for there to be a great many dull moments.

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Failure is not an option, inaction however is

Monday, 23 February, 2015

Working toward any goal can, on occasion, feel like taking one step forward, two steps back, and that’s on a good day. Two steps ahead, one in reverse, is always preferable, but it’s useful to remember that things don’t always work that way, all of the time:

Failure is one of those funny words. Everyone talks about it. Everyone runs from it. As it turns out, what really matters is how you look at it, how you define it. In our own simple definition, “failing” means “not trying”. In other words, a failure is not a product of an action, but the lack of it.

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If you want to look 20 years younger in 20 years, stop smiling now

Friday, 20 February, 2015

As a ten year old year old girl, so the story goes, Tess Christian decided to stop smiling. She thought that doing so would maintain her youthful looks.

Aside from the difficulty in making a conscious effort not to smile, no matter how overwhelming the temptation may be, as a way of maintaining one’s youthful looks, there just might be something in such a strategy. What do you think?

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All things in moderation, including anxiety

Thursday, 19 February, 2015

As if we could avoid it… anxiety, however, or a certain, limited I would think, amount of it, can be beneficial, it seems:

This picture of anxiety as a dark and pernicious force certainly has illustrious supporters. Even so, I believe that it is mistaken. It goes against the grain to say this, but anxiety can be a good thing. Indeed, I hope to persuade you that it is central to our ability to successfully navigate moral and social life. I won’t go as far as to say that we need more of it, but we should cultivate it. Worry is important; we should get it right.

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Here’s one way to score a walk-on role in a superhero comic story

Thursday, 12 February, 2015

Do you have an above average interest in a particular science fiction franchise, or a comic-book series? Do you ever give any thought as to where that fixation might eventually lead you, other than of course to Comic Con, or the like?

For US psychologist Andrea Letamendi, it was onto the pages of a Batgirl comic-book story, as a psychologist treating Batgirls’ alter-ego Barbara Gordon, following her debilitating run in with the Joker.

The cameo came about after Gail Simone, writer of the Batgirl comics, contacted Letamendi, asking her advice on how a visit to a psychologist’s office would play out in the real world.

“You were shot; your life has changed. Don’t you think you could maybe use a little help negotiating that, Ms. Gordon?” Letamendi’s character (also named after her) asked, sipping a steaming cup of tea, laptop open on her desk. Gordon, shot when she was a civilian, sat in a wheelchair talking about her dreams of choking the Joker to death. “I kill the Joker with my bare hands. Sometimes I feel guilty,” she said. “And sometimes I wake up crying that it was only a dream.” Letamendi wrote in her notebook: “Progress remains painfully slow. Patient is exhibiting signs of fatalism and depression.”

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For best results always ask for the most expensive placebo

Thursday, 5 February, 2015

Not all placebos are created equal… when patients were administered what they believed to be two different drugs, with one being considerably more expensive than the other, they found the dearer medication to be more effective than the cheaper.

What everyone got, though, was saline. There was no drug. Both placebo doses improved motor function, which was expected: the placebo effect has been documented in Parkinson’s patients before. But when patients were told that the first dose was the expensive one, the effect was greater than when they were told that the first dose was the cheap one. The belief is that that placebo effect is so noticeable in Parkinson’s (and in pain relief and in depression) because the reward and expectation system in the brain has a large dopamine signaling component, which matches well with these conditions.

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Expressive writing may be the key to a happier life story

Monday, 2 February, 2015

If you one, enjoy writing, and two, aren’t totally happy with the way things are, you could try re-writing your life story, adding a more positive slant in the process.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health. It may sound like self-help nonsense, but research suggests the effects are real.

There appears to be some… method to this method, might this be another way of applying some positive thinking?

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Déjà vu and other things that might be, or were

Monday, 2 February, 2015

A British man appears to be so afflicted by what might be called persistent déjà vu, he avoids watching TV, listening to the radio, or keeping up with the news, because he feels he has already seen and heard it all before.

Interestingly, his condition has prompted some medical professionals to speculate that there may be a link between feelings of déjà vu and anxiety. But déjà vu is not the only instance of feeling something that may not be something.

  • Jamais vu: when something familiar, such as a word, seems alien, or unknown
  • Presque vu: the sense of almost, but not actually, recalling a memory
  • Déjà entendu: the feeling of having heard part of a conversation before

I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered déjà entendu, in addition to déjà vu of course, but not often.

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The best workplace teams talk to each other, and also mind read

Thursday, 29 January, 2015

Communication, a clear perception of how others are feeling, and the presence of more women than men, could be the keys to building effective workplace teams.

First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group. Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible. Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not “diversity” (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at “mindreading” than men.

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Why I do look the fairest of them all in the bathroom mirror?

Wednesday, 28 January, 2015

Ever wondered why you seem to look different, that is to say, better, when looking at your reflection in a bathroom mirror, as opposed to other reflective surfaces, and even photographs? It could be that hand basins, or vanity counters, have rather a lot to do with it.

This may go someway to explaining why many selfies are taken in bathrooms.

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