Nearly half of working Canadians say that work is the most stressful part of their lives, and many find work is a source of depression and anxiety, a new study says.
The online survey of more than 1,000 working Canadians was conducted last month by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Ottawa-based Partners for Mental Health, a not-for-profit organization which aims to improve how Canadians deal with mental health issues.
Likely the other half of Canadians would say their personal lives are the most stressful part. For this group, work may be a refuge.
"The AquaTop consists of a display projected onto the surface of water, controlled by interacting with the liquid ... Demonstrated at the Laval Virtual conference in France earlier this year – where it won the Interface and Materials Award, as well as the Grand Prix – the interface was developed by researchers at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo. The AquaTop uses cloudy water to act as a projection surface and – similar to the Intera – detects gestures with a Kinect. The creators engineered the system to use the water surface as an integral part of its control – for example, one action is carried out when users dip their fingertips to interact with a screen object, and another when they approach the item from underneath the water. On-screen items also react to the movement of the water, meaning that they can be moved or changed by simply disrupting the surface with a splash, or scooping up the water and placing it elsewhere. The system has currently been rigged up primarily as a platform for games – with an underwater speaker included to create ripples when a goal is achieved – although the researchers have also demonstrated how it could be used to interact with computer files such as images and video."
Mathematician Stephen Wolfram has posted a lengthy and interesting dissection of Facebook user data collected through a free tool his company. Wolfram Alpha offers that analyses and visualizes your friend network. Wolfram is most interested in looking for signals about how a person and their life changes over time, and Facebook data provides plenty. (Although Wolfram talks about “trajectories,” his data doesn’t track individuals, so snapshots of different age groups seem a reasonable substitute.)
"* On a metaphysical level, wabi-sabi is a beauty at the edge of nothingness. That is, a beauty that occurs as things devolve into, or evolve out of, nothingness. Consequently, things wabi-sabi are subtle and nuanced.
* The beauty of wabi-sabi is an "event," a turn of mind, not an intrinsic property of things. In other words, the beauty of wabi-sabi "happens," it does not reside in objects and/or environments. By analogy, if you fall in love with someone or something—say a physically unattractive person, place, or thing—thereafter you will perceive this someone or something as beautiful (at least some of the time), even if the rest of the world doesn't.
* Wabi-sabi has a compelling pedagogic dimension. Because things wabi-sabi reveal "honest" natural processes such as aging, blemishing, deterioration, etc., they graphically mirror our own mortal journeys through existence. Accordingly, interacting with wabi-sabi objects and environments surely inclines us towards a more graceful acceptance of our existential fate.
* Wabi-sabi is, at root, an aestheticization of poverty—albeit an elegantly rendered poverty. As such, wabi-sabi is a democratic beauty available equally to rich and poor alike.
* Wabi-sabi is the antithesis of the Classical Western idea of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and/or monumental. In other words, wabi-sabi is the exact opposite of what slick, seamless, massively marketed objects, like the latest handheld wireless digital devices, aesthetically represent."
"It could make us more willing to express how we feel. Or you could say it over-simplifes our complex moods and lives. But today the Facebook status update box began offering the option to “share how you’re feeling or what you’re doing” through a drop-down menu of emoticons and media. We’re entering a more structured era of communication, where both friends and big data know exactly how we tick.
... Then there’s the fuzzy side. Emotions. Sharing how we feel. To some it comes easy, with exclamation points, colorful language, or typed-in emoticons. For them, mood sharing could let them do it fast, and with a bonus little graphic that could draw people’s eyes. But to others, saying how they feel is tough. You might fear you can’t boil down emotions like anguish or dumbfounded excitement. That you’ll lose something in translation. And you might be right.
... But the option to select and share a pre-constructed emotion could make some people more open than they usually are. And that’s whole point of Facebook."
“The principle of give and take; that is diplomacy— give one and take ten,” Mark Twain famously smirked. But for every such cynicism, there’s a heartening meditation on the art of asking andthe beautiful osmosis of altruism. “The world is just,” Amelia Barr admonished in her rules for success, “it may, it does, patronize quacks; but it never puts them on a level with true men.” After all, it pays to be nice because, as Austin Kleon put it, “the world is a small town,” right?
Well, maybe — maybe not. Just as the world may be, how givers and takers fare in matters of success proves to be more complicated. So argues organizational psychology wunderkindAdam Grant (remember him?), the youngest-tenured and highest-rated Wharton professor at my alma mater, in Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success
Grant’s extensive research has shed light on a crucial element of success, debunking some enduring tenets of cultural mythology:
According to conventional wisdom, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. If we want to succeed, we need a combination of hard work, talent, and luck. [But there is] a fourth ingredient, one that’s critical but often neglected: success depends heavily on how we approach our interactions with other people. Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?"
"Scientists have found a way to read people's dreams using brain scans, a new study suggests.
... Researchers in Japan used MRI scans to reveal the images that people were seeing as they entered into an early stage of sleep. Writing in the journal Science, they reported that they could do this with 60% accuracy.
The team now wants to see if brain activity can be used to decipher other aspects of dreaming, such as the emotions experienced during sleep. Professor Yukiyasu Kamitani, from the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, in Kyoto, said: "I had a strong belief that dream decoding should be possible at least for particular aspects of dreaming... I was not very surprised by the results, but excited.""
"Less gray hair sharply reduces an organization’s innovation potential, which over the long term can greatly outweigh short-term gains.
... But there is another reason to keep innovators around longer: the time it takes between the birth of an idea and when its implications are broadly understood and acted upon. This education process is typically driven by the innovators themselves.
... For Nobel Prize winners, this process usually takes about 20 years — meaning that someone who is 38 at the time of discovery will most likely be nearly 60 when he or she receives the prize. For most eventual laureates, that interval is spent attending and making presentations at conferences, networking with colleagues, writing additional papers, editing academic journals and talking with the press.
... Let’s assume that with company resources, it will take a corporate innovator 10 years instead of 20 to educate others about the nature, implications and applications of a new idea. If that’s true, a reasonable target retention age for attaining an average level of innovation would be at least 50.
... YET despite the overall aging of the work force, many organizations are heading in the opposite direction. One executive at a major investment bank remarked with concern that the average age at his firm was 32. This phenomenon is not unique to corporations. Many medical institutions and universities have also shifted to younger workforces. But according to research by Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University, a 55-year-old and even a 65-year-old have significantly more innovation potential than a 25-year-old.
... If an organization wants innovation to flourish, the conversation needs to change from severance packages to retention bonuses. Instead of managing the average age downward, companies should be managing it upward."
Thanks to an Kinect depth camera and some ingenious computer vision algorithms, a machine exists that can really, accurately diagnose whether you’re depressed or not with 90% accuracy. The system, called SimSensei, uses an interactive digital avatar to conduct a verbal interview with the person being screened for depression
"Our brain’s Reticular Activation System (RAS), Psycho-Cybernetic Mechanism (PCM) and Amygdala work jointly in the pursuit of our safety, comfort and doing things the same old familiar way. The RAS mission is to filter out anything that does not match our internal self image. The Amygdala is constantly on the lookout for any real or PERCEIVED danger. Our PCM ensures we stay in our comfort zone and current subconscious programming.
Whenever this changes the amygdala “hijacks” our consciousness making it difficult to concentrate as our focus shifts to what is troubling us. During these attacks the amygdala floods our body with the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) as we go into “fight, flight or freeze” mode. When this happens we unconsciously revert to our existing habits, attitudes and beliefs. This often causes us to overreact in ways we later regret. These hijacks can last for seconds, minutes, hours, days or even weeks.
In these challenging economic times many people are currently operating day-to-day in what amounts to a chronic, low grade amygdala hijack. Awareness is the first step in dealing with these attacks. If we do not notice that we are in the midst of a hijack we have no chance of getting back to emotional balance until the hijack has run its course.
Unfortunately, we see examples and experience the personal and organizational reality of these amygdala hijacks every day. Without a “hardware update” we will be swept away by the tsunami of change headed our way.
...The development of our Emotional Intelligence is essential for us to be able to manage our amygdales fear responses. We live in a time of rapid and accelerating change. The individuals and organizations that are thriving today have a high degree of Authentic Leadership and emotional intelligence. They have the new economic currency."
"Creation spaces focus on integrating learning benefits at two key levels. The first revolves around team effectiveness, and involves facilitating deep and sustained interactions within teams or local work groups. The second level seeks to foster a broader set of platforms to help spread learning across teams by granting them access to rich knowledge repositories and discussion forums. These two elements reconcile a key tension that has prevented scaling of learning in the past: First, deep trust-based relationships are required to access tacit knowledge (hence the importance of teams in creation spaces), yet these relationships are challenging to scale. Second, large and diverse resource platforms are required to access explicit knowledge to support learning; however, in the absence of deep trust-based relationships, these platforms have limited value."
Institutions that can drive accelerated learning will be the most likely to thrive in today’s environment of exponential technology change and market uncertainty. Institutional innovation can allow organizations to rearchitect themselves to scale learning and generate richer innovations at other levels, including products, services, business models, and management.
According to a new survey of 800 large and mid-size employers by the human resource consultancy arm of Aon:
83% offer employees incentives in wellness programs. Almost all offer incentives in the form of a reward
5% offer incentives in the form of a “consequence” (read penalty)
16% offer both
56% require employees to actively participate in health programs, comply with medications or participate in activities like health coaching.
24% offer incentives for progress toward or attainment of acceptable ranges for biometric measures such as blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar and cholesterol. More than two-thirds say they are considering this approach in the next three to five years.
58% plan to impose consequences on participants who do not take appropriate actions for improving their health.
34% are interested in tying incentives to program designs that require a focus on health 365 days a year. For example, they may offer incentives for completing a progressive physical activity program that increases minutes each quarter, ultimately achieving the recommended cardiovascular physical activity of 150 minutes per week.
22% are interested in using game theories and concepts to improve existing programs or ideas.
20% are interested in rewarding employees at specific work locations who meet predetermined criteria.
Research by Hay Group, culled from its 17,000-person behavioral competency database in 2012,finds that when it comes to empathy, influence, and the ability to manage conflicts in the executive level, women show more skill than men. Specifically, women are more likely to show empathy as a strength, demonstrate strong ability in conflict management, show skills in influence, and have a sense of self-awareness.
"In education, Negroponte explained, there’s a fundamental distinction between “instructionism” and “constructionism.” “Constructionism is learning by discovery, by doing, by making. Instructionism is learning by being told.” Negroponte’s lifelong friend Seymour Papert noted early on that debugging computer code is a form of “learning about learning” and taught it to young children.
Thus in 2000 when Negroponte left the Media Lab he had founded in 1985, he set out upon the ultimate constructionist project, called “One Laptop per Child.” His target is the world’s 100 million kids who are not in school because no school is available. Three million of his laptops and tablets are now loose in the world. One experiment in an Ethiopian village showed that illiterate kids can take unexplained tablets, figure them out on their own, and begin to learn to read and even program.
In the “markets versus mission” perspective, Negroponte praised working through nonprofits because they are clearer and it is easier to partner widely with people and other organizations. He added that “start-up businesses are sucking people out of big thinking. So many minds that used to think big are now thinking small because their VCs tell them to ‘focus.’”
As the world goes digital, Negroponte noted, you see pathologies of left over “atoms thinking.” Thus newspapers imagine that paper is part of their essence, telecoms imagine that distance should cost more, and nations imagine that their physical boundaries matter. “Nationalism is the biggest disease on the planet,” Negroponte said. “Nations have the wrong granularity. They’re too small to be global and too big to be local, and all they can think about is competing.” He predicted that the world is well on the way to having one language, English.
"There is strong empirical evidence to support the fact that many learners, employees and graduates are not sufficiently developing their broader skills and attitudes to ensure employability and to maximise economic returns for the individual, employer or country. The time is right to address these issues and develop new content and assessment approaches to ensure the barriers to competitive potential are clearly identified, understood and addressed.
... More attention needs to be paid to instilling learners at all levels of the education system with the skills demanded by modern workplaces, such as 21st Century Skills, which include initiative and self-direction; leadership; negotiation; planning and organisation; problem solving and resourcefulness and adaptability. And these skills need to be taught from the beginning of a child's education.
... While great gains are being made in improving education systems, if we are truly to address this pressing skills gap issue, we need to start embedding 21st Century skills into curricula from the earliest levels of schooling, when children enter the education system, typically at age five."
Happiness levels caputred by Tweets rise logarithmically with distance from our average location, say computer scientists studying Twitter sentiment ... This kind of analysis clearly gives sociologists an unprecedented new window into the human psyche.
Coaches can be incredibly positive influences on athletes’ lives, and most are, but too many can also be temperamental and explosive, verbally abusive and misogynistic.
... According to a 2009 study by researchers at the University of Northern Iowa: “Male high school athletes in particular report higher levels of alcohol consumption, drunk driving, sexist and homophobic social attitudes, gender related violent activity, and same sex violence (fighting).”
... A program begun in 2001 by Futures Without Violence (formerly the Family Violence Prevention Fund) called Coaching Boys Into Men is based on that maxim. The program “seeks to reduce dating violence and sexual assault, is effective in discouraging teen dating violence and abusive behaviors” by providing coaches with training kits that “illustrate ways to model respect and promote healthy relationships and choices.."
"Two ventures... are offering tools for accurately tracking mood over time.
... EI Technologies hopes to launch Xpression – an app that uses some of the native features of smartphones to detect when their owners are feeling happy or stressed – to the public once it has trialled it in healthcare settings. It records the speech of users as they go about their day, analyzing the acoustic patterns and looking for attributes – such as pitch, intensity and frequency – that match those commonly found when various emotions are present. Therapists or GPs can then use this information to determine the wellbeing of patients. The recordings can be sent to remote machines that extract the useful data and then delete the files, ensuring privacy.
... At the same time, Soma Analytics has developed its own app aimed at business managers looking to ensure workforce morale is maintained. It uses similar speech emotion-detecting technology as Xpression, which is activated when an employee makes a phone call. Additionally, typing is monitored for speed and errors – a high rate of each could indicate stress. Finally, the smartphone’s accelerometer is used to detect movement at nighttime to determine if workers are getting enough sleep.
... By quantifying emotions, patients and workers alike have access to data about their mood patterns and could be able to work out what events trigger negative feelings. Soma suggests that stress in particular plays a factor in over 60% of all illnesses, and finding the root may improve quality of life, as well as productivity."
"Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.... The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with A.D.H.D. but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis."
Visionary artist Alex Grey began his career as a medical illustrator at Harvard Medical School, but is best known for paintings that present the physical and subtle anatomy of an individual in the context of cosmic, biological and technological evolution. His work has been featured in Time and Newsweek, on the Discovery Channel, and as album art for TOOL, the Beastie Boys and Nirvana.
"As China becomes richer, is it destined to pass the United States as the world’s most inventive nation?
... Why are East Asian scientists and engineers generally typecast as underachievers? Part of the explanation is that there are different kinds of technological creativity. Fundamental breakthroughs generate headlines and win Nobel Prizes, but as Ralph Gomory pointed out, it is the more mundane task of turning breakthroughs into affordable products that matters economically. East Asian corporations tend to focus on this second task, and though the details of their “continuous improvement” in production technology are rarely noted in the press, their success has been a driver of the region’s spectacular enrichment in the last 60 years.