You can’t truly be optimistic unless you are also a tad pessimistic

Monday, 17 August, 2015

I’m all for being positive, or trying to be, but really I don’t think anyone can be truly focused unless they also consider the downsides to any given situation, proposal, or idea. Consider this point that Brett Terpstra makes, on the topic:

If a glass is half full, you’re celebrating the abundance of what the glass still contains, which leads to a more carefree approach to savoring the remaining contents. If you see it as half empty, you might savor it even more, being conscious of the fact that no matter how much is left, it’s less than you started with. I sometimes envy that realistic view.

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Do not underestimate the utility of boredom

Wednesday, 12 August, 2015

Thankfully, I don’t experience too much boredom. At the moment anyway. I’m not sure why this is, given the amount of routine, or what looks like routine, that envelopes my schedules.

Maybe I’ve the right balance between productivity and procrastination, or it could my ability to snap into a daydream at a minute’s notice, that shields me from the grips of boredom. Still, tedium has its place. In that it signals that we need to be in another place:

Think of boredom as an internal alarm. When it goes off, it is telling us something. It signals the presence of an unfulfilling situation. But it is an alarm equipped with a shock. The negative and aversive experience of boredom motivates us – one might even say, pushes us – to pursue a different situation, one that seems more meaningful or interesting, just as a sharp pain motivates us not to put pins into our bodies.

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The benefits of talking to yourself, that’s right, the benefits

Monday, 10 August, 2015

Ok, so doing things – such as going to the movies – alone, is to be encouraged, we should, from time to time, do more by ourselves. It has its upsides, and accordingly we should have little regard for others might think.

Now here’s another situation to apply your stigma breaking chops to… talking to yourself. Out loud. Doing so, like going it alone at the opera, also has benefits, quite a few it seems:

What helps me the most when I talk to myself is that I’m able to organize the countless wild thoughts running rampant through my brain. Hearing my issues vocalized calms my nerves. I’m being my own therapist: Outer-voice me is helping inner-brain me through my problems. According to psychologist Linda Sapadin, talking out loud to yourself helps you validate important and difficult decisions. “It helps you clarify your thoughts, tend to what’s important and firm up any decisions you’re contemplating.” Everyone knows the best way to solve a problem is to talk it out. Since it’s your problem, why not do it with yourself?

Now all we have to do is find somewhere to talk thus, without being seen or heard by anyone else.

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It’s not what is the best sunscreen, but the best way to apply it

Tuesday, 21 July, 2015

As someone – fair skin red head – who wears sunscreen every day, to some extent, even with all this wintery… Antarctic vortex weather we’re experiencing, I still took time out to read this in-depth sunscreen study. And seriously now is the time, the warm, sunny, weather will be back before you know it.

I’m not familiar with the specific products reviewed, but some of the points made about the use of sunscreen bear mentioning, namely most of us probably aren’t applying it in the correct quantity, and, more should be applied after swimming, or sweating, even if the product label says this isn’t necessary.

It still washes off quite easily. Better to be safe than sorry. Better still, become semi-nocturnal like me, and not have to worry about being in the Sun at all.

After spending 25 hours on research and interviews, and many more wearing sunscreen on our bodies, we’ve determined that the best sunscreen for everyday use is the one you’ll use correctly. But most people are doing it wrong – which means you probably are, too.

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Sometimes the best way to fit in is to not at first fit in

Thursday, 28 May, 2015

Talk about turning a weakness into a strength… being an outsider, an outcast, one who has been ostracised from a social group for whatever reason, has certain advantages, namely the ability to manipulate, or wield a significant degree of influence over the emotions of others:

Throughout human history, note Northwestern University psychologists Elaine Cheung and Wendi Gardner, ostracization has been personally painful, and sometimes life-threatening. Finding a way back into the safety of one’s tribe (or, perhaps, a way to attach yourself to a different social unit) is imperative. Their research, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests this desperate need somehow activates our latent ability to display a key component of emotional intelligence. In short, it enhances our ability to make people like us.

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Would an instruction manual make better sleepers of us all?

Monday, 25 May, 2015

Instructions for falling asleep, because sometimes I think we all need a refresher on the topic. So, no smartphones or tablets after lights out, that’s one step for ensuring a good night’s sleep.

Not a big problem for me though. What I really need is to shut off the flow of thoughts and ideas that churn through my mind. But moving on.

Here’s one for people who feel they fall into the insomnia category, don’t sweat the potential loss of sleep, just lie back, relax, and let sleep happen. Probably easier to say than do, but perhaps there’s something in it:

But sleeping better is not just about those presleep moments, the “falling” part. It requires a certain degree of daylong mental and physical discipline. Above all, beware the psychology of insomnia, which Winter describes as a self-­perception problem of this sort: “Ed from accounting is the tall guy, Joanne is the cute girl, and I’m the one who does not sleep.” Sleep is not a bus stop; if your 10 p.m. bedtime passes by and you’re still awake, don’t fret. Trust that sleep – an innate physiological need, like hunger and thirst – will come. No one, especially children, should be given the impression that they are “bad sleepers,” Winter says.

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Most people are not mind readers. Most people forget this

Thursday, 7 May, 2015

Frequently we fail to articulate our thoughts fully enough, or sometimes even just merely outline them, in the belief that others already know what we’re thinking, or what we want. How’s that meant to work anyway?

It’s something called the “the transparency illusion”, and it means many of us do not realise we are not making ourselves as understood as we thought we were, says US psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson.

Most of the time, Halvorson says, people don’t realize they are not coming across the way they think they are. “If I ask you,” Halvorson told me, “about how you see yourself – what traits you would say describe you – and I ask someone who knows you well to list your traits, the correlation between what you say and what your friend says will be somewhere between 0.2 and 0.5. There’s a big gap between how other people see us and how we see ourselves.” This gap arises, as Halvorson explains in her book, from some quirks of human psychology. First, most people suffer from what psychologists call “the transparency illusion” – the belief that what they feel, desire, and intend is crystal clear to others, even though they have done very little to communicate clearly what is going on inside their minds.

Over do the communication is one solution. At least others will understand you far better that way. And people who communicate clearly tend to be generally happier as a result.

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I don’t want your bling, I just want some of your time

Monday, 4 May, 2015

Turning up, or being here, or more precisely, taking the time to turn up, or be there, is giving someone far more than you could possibly imagine, after all, what else is scarcer than time?

Simply turning up, ringing up, listening and being there is now the biggest compliment you can ever pay anyone. I remember one guest famously saying when asked whether he had bought a present for a celebrity’s birthday, “I’m here, that’s enough isn’t it?” It is. The next time someone turns up on your doorstep give them a big hug and say “Thanks”. Time. The most valuable asset on earth and the most generous of gifts. Give it, waste it, use it or lose it.

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People are generally happier in cooler countries, is that a surprise?

Friday, 1 May, 2015

Sunshine and warm temperatures. Two vital elements, together with a job paying a salary of seventy thousand dollars, for a happy life?

Don’t be so sure, says this year’s World Happiness Report, people resident in places with cooler climes, seem to be more content than those in warmer regions.

According to its ranking, the 10 happiest countries are Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, and Australia. Except for war-torn Syria and Afghanistan, the 10 unhappiest countries are all in Saharan or sub-Saharan Africa.

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You might just live happily ever after if you win big in the lottery

Friday, 3 April, 2015

It has always been said that those who win big lottery prizes tend to end up miserable. I’ve always had trouble making that compute though. If you struck it lucky, and sought sound financial advice, surely you’d end up far better off than you might have been before?

Now it turns out these sorts of pessimistic conclusions were based on incomplete research, often carried over a relatively short period of time. A large windfall can in fact make a positive difference to your life, as you’d surely expect it to.

The curse of the lottery was further debunked in a survey of more than 400 Swedish lottery winners by Anna Hedenus, a sociologist at the University of Gothenburg. She found that most winners refrained from splurging, preferring to save or invest the prize money, and that most reported being quite content. “The story about the unhappy, squandering winner primarily functions as a cautionary tale,” Dr. Hedenus says. “But this is not the common reaction to the lottery windfall.”

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