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Inquiry and naming~Practices to dispel the trance:Tara Brach

Inquiry and naming~Practices to dispel the trance:Tara Brach | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Sometimes, when our carefully constructed lives seem to be falling apart – when we get a divorce, lose a business, or are laid off, for example – we can torure and berate ourselves with stories about how we’re failures, what we could have done better, how no one cares about us. Yet, this response of course only digs us deeper into what I call “the trance of unworthiness.”

 

Distracted by our judgments, we are unable to recognize the raw pain of our emotions. In order to begin the process of waking up, we need to deepen our attention and touch our real experience.

 

One tool of mindfulness that can cut through our numbing trance is inquiry. As we ask ourselves questions about our experience, our attention gets engaged. We might begin by scanning our body, noticing what we are feeling, especially in the throat, chest, abdomen and stomach, and then asking “What wants my attention right now?” or “What is asking for acceptance?” Then we attend with genuine interest and care, listening to our heart, body and mind.

 

Inquiry is not a kind of analytic digging—we are not trying to figure out “Why do I feel this sadness?” This would only stir up more thoughts. In contrast to the approach of Western psychology, in which we might delve into further stories in order to understand what caused a current situation, the intention of inquiry is to awaken to our experience exactly as it is in this present moment. While inquiry may expose judgments and thoughts about what we feel is wrong, it focuses on our immediate feelings and sensations.


It’s important to approach inquiry with a genuine attitude of unconditional friendliness. If I were to ask myself what wants attention with even the slightest aversion, I would only deepen my self-judgment. It may take some practice to learn how to question ourselves with the same kindness and care we would show to a troubled friend.

 

Naming or noting is another tool of traditional mindfulness practice that we can apply when we’re lost. Mental noting, like inquiry, helps us recognize with care and gentleness the passing flow of thoughts, feelings and sensations. If I am feeling anxious and disconnected before giving a talk, for example, I often pause, ask myself what is happening or what wants my attention. With a soft mental whisper I’ll name what I’m aware of: “afraid, afraid, tight, tight.” If I notice myself anxiously assuming that my talk will be boring and fall flat, I simply continue naming: “story about blowing it, fear of rejection,” then, “judging, judging.” If instead of noting I try to ignore this undercurrent of fear, I carry it into my talk and end up speaking in an unnatural and insincere way. The simple action of having named the anxiety building before my talk opens my awareness. Anxiety may still be present, but the care and wakefulness I cultivate through noting allows me to feel more at home with myself.

 

Like inquiry, noting is an opportunity to communicate unconditional friendliness to our inner life. If fear arises and we pounce on it with a name, “Fear! Gotcha!” we’re only creating more tension. Naming an experience is not an attempt to nail a unpleasant experience or make it go away. Rather, it is a soft and gentle way of saying, “I see you, fear, anger, etc.” This attitude of Radical Acceptance makes it safe for the frightened and vulnerable parts of our being to let themselves be known.

 

The practices of inquiry and noting are actually ways to wake us up to the fact that we are suffering. Caught up in our stories, we can effectively deny the truth of our experience. I sometimes spend days being impatient and judgmental towards myself before I stop and pay attention to the feelings and beliefs that have been disconnecting me from my heart. When I do pause and look at what’s happening, I realize that I’ve been caught up in the suffering of anxiety and self-doubt.

 

I have worked with many clients and students who reach a critical gateway when they finally register just how much pain they are in. This juncture is very different from feeling self-pity or complaining about our lives. It is different from focusing on how many problems we have. Rather, seeing and feeling the degree of suffering we are living with reconnects us to our heart.

 

Recognizing that we are suffering is freeing—self-judgment falls away and we can regard ourselves with kindness. When we offer to ourselves the same quality of unconditional friendliness that we would offer to a friend, we stop denying our suffering. And, most importantly, as we figuratively sit beside ourselves and inquire, listen and name our experience, we can begin to open our heart in tenderness for the suffering before us.

From Radical Acceptance (2003)

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Research finds practicing retrieval is best tool for learning

Research finds practicing retrieval is best tool for learning | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
The time students invest in rereading or reviewing their notes would be better spent practicing retrieval to ensure better learning, according to new research from Purdue University.
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What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life? - Eric Barker

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life? - Eric Barker | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

1) Get out in nature:

You probably seriously underestimate how important this is. (Actually, there's research that says you do.) Being in nature reduces stress, makes you more creative, improves your memory and may even make you a better person.

2) Exercise:

We all know how important this is, but few people do it consistently. Other than health benefits too numerous to mention, exercise makes you smarter, happier, improves sleep, increases libido and makes you feel better about your body. A Harvard study that has tracked a group of men for more than 70 years identified it as one of the secrets to a good life.

3) Spend time with friends and family:

Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert identified this as one of the biggest sources of happiness in our lives. Relationships are worth more than you think (approximately an extra $131,232 a year.) Not feeling socially connected can make you stupider and kill you. Loneliness can lead to heart attack, stroke and diabetes. The longest lived people on the planet all place a strong emphasis on social engagement and good relationships are more important to a long life than even exercise. Friends are key to improving your life. Share good news and enthusiatically respond when others share good news with you to improve your relationships. Want to instantly be happier? Do something kind for them.

4) Express gratitude:

It will make you happier.

It will improve your relationships.

It can make you a better person.

It can make life better for everyone around you.

5) Meditate:

Meditation can increase happiness, meaning in life, social support and attention span whie reducing anger, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Along similar lines, prayer can make you feel better -- even if you're not religious.

6) Get enough sleep:

You can't cheat yourself on sleep and not have it affect you. Being tired actually makes it harder to be happy. Lack of sleep = more likely to get sick. "Sleeping on it" does improve decision making. Lack of sleep can make you more likely to behave unethically. There is such a thing as beauty sleep.

Naps are great too. Naps increase alertness and performance on the job, enhance learning ability and purge negative emotions while enhancing positive ones. Here's how to improve your naps.

7) Challenge yourself:

Learning another language can keep your mind sharp. Music lessons increase intelligence. Challenging your beliefs strengthens your mind. Increasing willpower just takes a little effort each day and it's more responsible for your success than IQ. Not getting an education or taking advantage of opportunities are two of the things people look back on their lives and regret the most.

8) Laugh:

People who use humor to cope with stress have better immune systems, reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, experience less pain during dental work and live longer. Laughter should be like a daily vitamin. Just reminiscing about funny moments can improve your relationship. Humor has many benefits.

9) Touch someone:

Touching can reduce stress, improve team performance, and help you be persuasive. Hugs make you happier. Sex may help prevent heart attacks and cancer, improve your immune system and extend your life.

10) Be optimistic:

Optimism can make you healthier, happier and extend your life. The Army teaches it in order to increase mental toughness in soldiers. Being overconfident improves performance.

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Constant Complaining: Does It Serve Us Well? | Toni Bernhard, J.D.

Constant Complaining: Does It Serve Us Well? | Toni Bernhard, J.D. | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Our everyday complaints add stress and dissatisfaction to our lives.

 

“Complaint” is a good word to describe those circumstances of our lives that we wish were different, whether we’re dissatisfied about the small stuff (can’t find the sock in the dryer) or the more important stuff (how someone treats us). Even if a complaint is justified (the neighbor’s dog barks too much), it’s still a complaint, meaning that it qualifies as yet another item of dissatisfaction in our lives. The purpose of becoming aware of our complaints is to help us recognize the dissatisfaction that is present.

 

Try this exploration process for yourself:

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-straw-gold/201206/constant-complaining-does-it-serve-us-well

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Studying the Brain Can Help Us Understand Our Unscientific Beliefs

Studying the Brain Can Help Us Understand Our Unscientific Beliefs | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Last week, Gallup announced the results of their latest survey on Americans and evolution. The numbers were a stark blow to high-school science teachers everywhere: forty-six per cent of adults said they believed that “God created humans in their...

 

...present form within the last 10,000 years.” Only fifteen per cent agreed with the statement that humans had evolved without the guidance of a divine power.


What’s most remarkable about these numbers is their stability: these percentages have remained virtually unchanged since Gallup began asking the question, thirty years ago. In 1982, forty-four per cent of Americans held strictly creationist views, a statistically insignificant difference from 2012. Furthermore, the percentage of Americans that believe in biological evolution has only increased by four percentage points over the last twenty years.


Such poll data begs the question: Why are some scientific ideas hard to believe in? What makes the human mind so resistant to certain kinds of facts, even when these facts are buttressed by vast amounts of evidence?


A new study in Cognition, led by Andrew Shtulman at Occidental College, helps explain the stubbornness of our ignorance. As Shtulman notes, people are not blank slates, eager to assimilate the latest experiments into their world view. Rather, we come equipped with all sorts of naïve intuitions about the world, many of which are untrue. For instance, people naturally believe that heat is a kind of substance, and that the sun revolves around the earth. And then there’s the irony of evolution: our views about our own development don’t seem to be evolving.

 

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/frontal-cortex/2012/06/brain-experiments-why-we-dont-believe-science.html#ixzz1xEa3qBtI

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What Captures Your Attention Controls Your Life: Kare Anderson

What Captures Your Attention Controls Your Life: Kare Anderson | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
A few years ago, DisneyWorld executives were wondering what most captured the attention of toddlers and infants at their theme park and hotels in Orlando, Florida.

 

So they hired me and a cultural anthropologist to observe them as they passed by all the costumed cast members, animated creatures, twirling rides, sweet-smelling snacks, and colorful toys. But after a couple of hours of close observation, we realized that what most captured the young children's attention wasn't Disney-conjured magic. Instead it was their parents' cell phones, especially when the parents were using them.

 

Those kids clearly understood what held their parents' attention — and they wanted it too. Cell phones were enticing action centers of their world as they observed it. When parents were using their phones, they were not paying complete attention to their children.

 

Giving undivided attention is the first and most basic ingredient in any relationship. It is impossible to communicate, much less bond, with someone who can't or won't focus on you. At the same time, we often fail to realize how what we focus on comes to control our thoughts, our actions, and indeed, our very lives...

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Expand Your Personality, Shrink Your Waistline | Ben Fisher

Expand Your Personality, Shrink Your Waistline | Ben Fisher | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
There can hardly be a simpler equation for maintaining a healthy weight. Burn up more calories than you consume, right? But if it’s that simple we have to question why we in the Western world are in the midst of a huge obesity crisis.

 

Years ago I had the most startling revelation of my academic career:

 

I discovered that a person’s weight is also related to their behavioural traits.

 

Yes, the calories in-calories out equation holds true. But it’s not that simple. A few years ago we unearthed something about people’s behaviour that is also critical to whether or not they are overweight. When doing research in my lab that involved measuring a person’s behavioural flexibility we found it correlated negatively with their body mass index (BMI).

 

That’s right.

 

People with higher behavioural flexibility had a lower BMI.

 

So what is behavioural flexibility?

 

People with low behavioural flexibility

• tend to stick more to routines

• go to the same places

• have strict schedules

• hang around with the same people repeatedly.

On the other hand behaviourally flexible people

• can act differently in different situations

• are willing to try new things

• readily buck routines

• don’t fall back on habits.

And greater flexibility means lower BMI.

 

Having discovered this we went on to ask the next logical question:

 

Can a person lose weight by raising their behavioural flexibility?

 

We investigated this question empirically in a study published recently and the results were staggering. Fifty-five people did something different every day for a month. They broke their normal routines in simple ways. Or went a little out of their way to experiment with something new. Things like going to a live sports game, or writing something for 15 minutes, or not watching the TV for a day. They also experimented with behaving in a way that wasn’t their usual character. So, extroverts tried out a bit of introverted behaviour. Lively characters undertook to be a little more laid back for a day. And so on. Everyone on the trials found it fun. And, although no one had told them what to eat or what to avoid, they all lost weight. And their weight loss was at a healthy level you don’t get with fad diets. And, what’s more, they kept it off for months after the trial had finished.

 

The power of this approach was that it tackled the habits that had led to people over-eating. It also loaded up their character repertoire with lots of new behaviours, so life got easier. They all ended up less stressed and also less likely to ‘comfort eat’ or turn to the biscuit tin out of habit. Their weight loss was closely linked to their behavioural flexibility, in that the more a person increased their flexibility, the more weight they lost – a classic dose relationship that underlined the power of this method.

 

We know that when people go on a diet they subject themselves to a period of deprivation and misery. Their willpower eventually becomes exhausted and the weight they lose often goes straight back on after they stop dieting. Yet with the Do Something Different method people told us they didn’t feel deprived at all. On the contrary, they were leading happier and healthier lives. The method targeted their broader habits, not just eating and exercise. But because of the domino effect they zapped their unhealthy habits effortlessly. That’s because our habits are all interconnected. They exist in chains. Sitting on the sofa and watching TV and snacking all go together. Trying NOT to snack while sitting on the sofa and watching TV is extremely difficult. The brain has been conditioned to expect a snack as soon as you grab the remote and your seat hits the sofa. But change the situation (phone an old friend, sit somewhere different, turn off the TV and play a board game) and the need for a snack disappears. We called these proximal habits (the ones you want to change, like over-eating or not exercising) and distal habits (the other daily routines and general behaviours), and found that shifting the distal habits is far more effective than trying to zap the proximal ones. It not only helps people lose weight, it reduces their stress and anxiety too.

 

You can see more about the programme in one of my books The No Diet Diet- Do Something Different.

 

Most encouragingly, the weight stays off once people have lost weight with Do Something Different. In one of our ongoing community projects for weight loss that takes place outside the lab and away from the prying eyes of researchers, groups of people achieved impressive rates of weight loss with Do Something Different. Over six weeks weight decreased by a healthy average of 5.4lbs and the pounds kept dropping of for six months after the program had finished. In addition people increased how often they exercised, from 1.5 to 4.1 days per week, and increased their healthy eating patterns. People felt they have regained control of their eating habits and have the knowledge and tools to sustain these changes.

So, if you are struggling with a weight problem, focus less on your food and exercise habits. Take a step back and look at all your daily habits and ask yourself, what can I do differently today?

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Solving Happiness – The New Inquiry

Solving Happiness – The New Inquiry | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

The most important Manhattan Projects of the future will be vast government-sponsored enquiries into what the politicians and the participating scientists will call “the problem of happiness.”

— Aldous Huxley, preface to Brave New World

 

A new type of politics has appeared in the last decade: the politics of well-being. It’s a fusion of ancient Greek and Buddhist philosophy, cognitive psychology, and public policy. At its heart is the idea that governments can increase their citizens’ happiness and flourishing using the science of well-being, and for such an idealistic project, it has won a surprising amount of support.

 

The politics of happiness have led to mass psychological interventions in hospitals, schools, prisons, armies and corporations, costing billions of dollars, and paved the way for governments to measure “national well-being.” In the past three years, the UK, France, Germany, and China have all launched national well-being measurements. Their national statistics departments now go from door-to-door asking people, “How happy do you feel on a scale of one to ten?” then aggregating the data to discover what policies raise the national happiness level. The U.S. is considering following suit, and the United Nations unanimously approved a resolution last year to broaden economic indicators to include well-being.

 

Nothing better indicates the evangelical faith that policymakers have in this new politics of well-being than the Christmas gift that the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, sent out last year. As the euro zone crumbled, Van Rompuy sent out a book on positive psychology to 200 world leaders, urging them to “make well-being our priority in 2012.” He declared, “Positive thinking is no longer something for drifters, dreamers and the perpetually naive. Positive Psychology concerns itself in a scientific way with the quality of life. It is time to make this knowledge available to the man and woman in the street.”

 

The Science of Well-Being

 

The happiness formula governments have discovered is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which was invented in the 1950s by two American psychologists, Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, and is now the dominant treatment in western psychotherapy. CBT has helped millions of people to overcome depression, anxiety and other emotional disorders — including me. That’s how I started writing about this area; CBT helped me overcome depression in my early 20s.

 

I was interested in where the therapy came from, so I went to interview Ellis and Beck. They both told me that CBT was directly inspired by ancient Greek philosophy, and the idea in Socrates and the Stoics that we can make ourselves happier and more fulfilled by becoming aware of how our emotions follow our beliefs. We can learn to Socratically examine our beliefs and change those beliefs and actions that are unwise or toxic. Through the Socratic exercise of self-knowledge and self-control, we can become masters of ourselves rather than the slaves of our passions and compulsions. CBT essentially took ideas and techniques from ancient Greek philosophy, dropped any references to virtue or Zeus, and incorporated them into a highly effective evidence-based short-term therapy. Where ancient philosophy offered people a philosophy for life, CBT offered the emotionally sick some simple techniques to overcome their disorders, without trying to teach them the meaning of life.

 

In the 1990s, a younger colleague of Aaron Beck’s at the University of Pennsylvania, Martin Seligman, saw the success of CBT and wondered if its mission could be expanded. Why not use CBT not just for the negative aim of helping people overcome sicknesses but also for the positive aim of helping all people achieve flourishing? Seligman called this new field positive psychology, and again, it was inspired by ancient Greek philosophy. It would be “the social science equivalent of virtue ethics,” as its “director of virtues” Christopher Peterson put it. Virtue ethics always claimed that goodness leads to eudemonia. Now social science could finally prove it. Positive psychology would create an objective science of flourishing, empirically testing out the well-being techniques of ancient and modern wisdom.

 

This, of course, was a much more ambitious project than CBT. It’s one thing to measure if a person suffers from suicidal thoughts or panic attacks, quite another to measure to what extent they are flourishing. But positive psychology, which launched in 1998, immediately attracted huge amounts of funding and media attention. It tapped into a wave of TED-esque optimism in the power of social science to measure and improve everything — even the twisted heart of man. Positive psychologists excitedly claimed to have discovered the “happiness hypothesis” or the “how of happiness” (as two popular books of the past decade put it). And Seligman insisted that governments should make the secret widely available to their citizens. Last year, Seligman announced that governments are at a “Florentine moment,” in which they could roll out positive psychology to their citizens, just as the Medici had rolled out Platonic philosophy to Renaissance Florence. Seligman outlined a “moon shot” for the world to aim for: By 2051, get 51 percent of the world’s population flourishing (using his own method of measurement and therapy, naturally).

 

How ever could this grand target be achieved? It would involve rolling out CBT and positive psychology in every conceivable public outlet. We’re not quite there yet, but the movement is certainly spreading. The British government has put around $1 billion into making CBT more available in the National Health Service. It’s now available in job centers, as the British government tries to reduce the number of people claiming incapacity benefits because of mental illness. It’s also taught in British and American prisons as part of anger-management courses. Other countries are following Britain’s example: Canada unveiled a $4 billion “national mental health strategy“ this month, with CBT at its heart. And positive psychology has exported CBT into education policy: Many schools now include positive psychology in their curriculum, including KIPP charter schools in the U.S. and several academies in the UK...

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Does Self-Compassion or Self-Criticism Motivate Self-Improvement? | Kelly McGonigal

Does Self-Compassion or Self-Criticism Motivate Self-Improvement? | Kelly McGonigal | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

New research finds that forgiving yourself works best!

 

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know where I stand on this issue. Self-compassion beats self-criticism any day, and in every way. But I had to share the latest set of studies showing how important self-compassion is for motivating change.

 

The research was led by Juliana Breines at the University of California, Berkeley, and published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The effect of self-compassion was tested in four different experiments (each using different participants, including college students and a broader sample of adults in the U.S.)

 

All four experiments asked participants to think about something that would typically elicit self-criticism. In two studies, participants were asked to identify what they considered to be their biggest weakness or shortcoming. In another study, participants recalled a recent time when they did something they felt was wrong and experienced guilt, remorse, and regret. Finally, in one study, participants took a very difficult test, choosen to induce a sense of struggle and frustration.

 

In each experiment, researchers then gave some participants a self-compassion induction. For the first three studies, participants wrote for 3 minutes in response to the instructions: "Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this [weakness/action] from a compassionate and understanding perspective. What would you say?"

 

For the difficult test study, the experimenter shared a self-compassion message after participants struggled with the test: "If you had difficulty with the test you just took, you’re not alone. It’s common for students to have difficulty with tests like this. If you feel bad about how you did, try not to be too hard on yourself."

 

In each experiement, participants who practiced a self-compassionate mindset showed greater willingness to learn from and improve on their self-perceived weakness, mistake, or failure. For example, they were more interested in studying to improve performance on the difficult test, and they were more likely to want to take action to reduce the harm of their previous misdeeds. They also had greater optimism that their personal weakness could be changed.

 

The good news of this study is not just that self-compassion supports self-improvement. It's how easy it can be to shift from a self-critical or self-enhancing mindset to a self-compassionate mindset. Writing for 3 minutes? That's something all of us can do when we need a little encouragement and motivation. These studies suggest that you can choose a self-compassionate point of view, and this will help you recover from setbacks and pursue positive change.

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Does a wandering mind make you more creative - and more unhappy?: Eric Barker

Does a wandering mind make you more creative - and more unhappy?: Eric Barker | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

People whose minds wander a lot might be more creative and better problem solvers.

Mind-wandering allows one part of the brain to focus on the task at hand, and another part of the brain to keep a higher goal in mind. Christoff (2009) at the University of California, Santa Barbara has evidence that people whose minds wander a lot are more creative and better problem solvers. Their brains have them working on the task at hand but simultaneously processing other information and making connections.


You spend up to 8 minutes of every hour daydreaming. Your mind will probably wander for 13% of the time it takes you to read this post. Some of us spend 30-40% of our time daydreaming.


Do you remember what the previous paragraph was about? It’s OK, I’m not offended. Chances are that your mind will wander for up to eight minutes for every hour that you spend reading this book. About 13 percent of the time that people spend reading is spent not reading, but daydreaming or mind-wandering. But reading, by comparison to other things we do, isn’t so badly affected by daydreaming. Some estimates put the average amount of time spent daydreaming at 30 to 40 percent.


In fact, it may be our default state:
This overlap between mind-wandering and the default state of the brain has led researchers to speculate that “mind-wandering constitutes a psychological baseline from which people depart when attention is required elsewhere and to which they return when tasks no longer require conscious supervision.”


So why do we do it? It may be a form of problem-solving:
...the content of people’s daydreams reflected the kinds of coping strategies that they typically employed to solve problems. This suggests that the wandering mind might actually be off searching for ways to cope with the stresses of everyday life. You may not know exactly how to deal with your man troubles, but your wandering mind is working on it. Daily troubles aren’t the only problems that mind-wandering might help us solve. Allowing the mind to amble in slothful bliss may actually improve performance on other kinds of tasks as well. One of the most interesting things about this slothful pastime is that it involves the same brain regions that are active when people are solving insight puzzles.


This doesn't mean daydreaming is necessarily good. As Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, explained in the Harvard Gazette, a wandering mind is not a happy mind:
People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy. So says a study that used an iPhone Web app to gather 250,000 data points on subjects’ thoughts, feelings, and actions as they went about their lives.


And:
Killingsworth and Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, found that people were happiest when making love, exercising, or engaging in conversation. They were least happy when resting, working, or using a home computer.
“Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness,” Killingsworth says. “In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”


The researchers estimated that only 4.6 percent of a person’s happiness in a given moment was attributable to the specific activity he or she was doing, whereas a person’s mind-wandering status accounted for about 10.8 percent of his or her happiness.


Time-lag analyses conducted by the researchers suggested that their subjects’ mind-wandering was generally the cause, not the consequence, of their unhappiness.

 

 

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How Talking to Yourself Makes You Smarter: Rin Mitchell

How Talking to Yourself Makes You Smarter: Rin Mitchell | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

What’s the Latest Development?

 

Mental and vocal monologues are essential in learning and performing better in life. Researchers have identified that talking to yourself is insanely great for the brain. The better you are at self-talk the better off you will be. When you give yourself mental messages whether out loud or in the mind, it enhances your attention span—allowing you to concentrate despite distractions. It helps to regulate your decision-making capabilities, and to control how you respond to your brain's emotional and cognitive processes. According to researchers, the most beneficial forms of self-talk are with instructional and thought and action. Instructional self-talk is when you tell yourself each step you need to take in order to complete something while in the process, such as driving a car. Thought and action is the act of setting a goal for yourself and a strategy as to how to accomplish the goal before taking action.

 

What’s the Big Idea?

 

Start talking to yourself to increase the performance and function of your brain. It is crazy not to talk to yourself because you would miss out on the benefits that come with self-talk. The key is to practice doing it until it becomes natural. You can use specific “cue words” in your self-talk to help you in whatever goal or task you would like to complete. Eventually, you will learn how to self-talk in a way that benefits you the most in every situation.

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Positive Words: The Glue To Social Interaction

Positive Words: The Glue To Social Interaction | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Scientists at ETH Zurich have studied the use of language, finding that words with a positive emotional content are more frequently used in written communication.

 

This result supports the theory that social relations are enhanced by a positive bias in human communication. The study by David Garcia and his colleagues from the Chair of Systems Design is published in the first issue of the new SpringerOpen journal EPJ Data Science, and is freely available to the general public as an Open Access article.

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5 Attitudes Wired in Happy and Successful Brains: Steven Handel

5 Attitudes Wired in Happy and Successful Brains: Steven Handel | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Many happy and successful people share similar attitudes and beliefs about life. These attitudes are big contributor to their success, and by modeling these attitudes in our own lives we can become happy and successful too.

 

1. Failure is a part of learning.

 

2. Focus on solutions, not just problems.

 

3. Be grateful for what you have.

 

4. See the bigger picture.

5. Learn from other happy and successful brains.

 

Details and some great quotes after the link...

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» 10 Steps to Infuse Your Goals (Brain) With Momentum-Inspiring Passion - Neuroscience and Relationships

» 10 Steps to Infuse Your Goals (Brain) With Momentum-Inspiring Passion - Neuroscience and Relationships | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Speaking of goals, studies shows people who have written goals, or better yet S.M.A.R.T. goals, are more likely to realize them. It makes sense, considering that, when you take time to write something down, you automatically engage your brain in deeper processes of focused attention.

 

Unless you’ve achieved mastery in focusing your attention, it’s preferable to select one or maximum two goals, from your personal list of goals, to work on to complete the ten step exercise below. If you have not yet put together your own personal list, here are two lists of goals (personal and relational) to give you some ideas, from which to choose one or two goals most important to you.

 

Click through for a ten step process to try...

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Will we succeed? The science of self-motivation

Can you help you? Recent research by University of Illinois Professor Dolores Albarracin and Visiting Assistant Professor Ibrahim Senay, along with Kenji Noguchi, Assistant Professor at Southern Mississippi University, has shown that those who ask themselves whether they will perform a task generally do better than those who tell themselves that they will.

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Are your friends the easiest route to self-improvement and a long, healthy life? - Eric Barker

Are your friends the easiest route to self-improvement and a long, healthy life? - Eric Barker | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

I'm seeing this again and again:

The Longevity Project, which studied over 1000 people from youth to death had this to say:
The groups you associate with often determine the type of person you become. For people who want improved health, association with other healthy people is usually the strongest and most direct path of change.

 

In The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha talk about how the best way to improve particular qualities in yourself is to spend more time with people who are already like that.


In Charles Duhigg's excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:
In a 1994 Harvard study that examined people who had radically changed their lives, for instance, researchers found that some people had remade their habits after a personal tragedy, such as a divorce or a life-threatening illness. Others changed after they saw a friend go through something awful, the same way that Dungy’s players watched him struggle.

 

Just as frequently, however, there was no tragedy that preceded people’s transformations. Rather, they changed because they were embedded in social groups that made change easier... When people join groups where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real.

In fact, for most, friend selection may be the only method of sustainable change.

 

I've posted about how manipulating context is the most powerful method of change and who we spend time with -- who influences us on a daily basis -- may be the most powerful form of manipulating context.

 

Checklists require effort and people often fail at anything that requires sustained effort. The Longevity Project explains:

 

The second core error about health, which we’ve described in our research above, is the idea that we can make a major difference in health and longevity by giving people lists of health recommendations. We often hear physicians say, “Of course eat right, stop smoking, lose weight, sleep more, exercise, etc., etc., etc., should be the first choice in staying healthy but most of my patients can’t do this, so it is a great thing that we have these effective medications.” Such sentiments are perfectly natural, because if you hand most patients a list of life-altering changes, they will not make them.

 

Peer pressure, more often than not, is a very good thing. Just pick the right peers and make sure the pressure is working for you, not against you.

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MIND Reviews: The Emotional Life of Your Brain : Scientific American

MIND Reviews: The Emotional Life of Your Brain : Scientific American | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--And How You Can Change Them
by Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley.

 

Not so long ago scientists downplayed emotions as cognitive flotsam, the product of primitive brain structures that derail logic and reasoning in more evolutionarily sophisticated regions of the cortex. Dramatic advances in brain imaging, however, are challenging that perspective. As psychologist Davidson argues in his new book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain, emotions are crucial to how the mind works.

 

According to Davidson, just as exercise can turn a flabby stomach into a six-pack, mental training such as meditation can fine-tune the brain and, consequently, your emotional style>, which he defines as the consistent way of responding to the experiences of our lives. With science journalist Begley, Davidson maps the six dimensions of emotional style--resilience, outlook, social intuition, self-awareness, sensitivity to context, and attention. The authors also provide user-friendly questionnaires for readers to assess where they fall on those scales...

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=mind-reviews-the-emotional-life-of

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Hindsight Bias — PsyBlog

Hindsight Bias — PsyBlog | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
How to correct for a bias that stop us learning from our mistakes.

 

Research into entrepreneurs demonstrates a widespread bias in human thought. The hindsight bias is our tendency towards thinking that things must have turned out the way they actually have.

 

We display this bias across many different areas of life. The things that happen to us seem more like they were meant to happen. This is partly because of our drive to make sense of the world; it's comforting to feel we can predict what is happening to us and why.

 

Under some circumstances, the hindsight bias is particularly strong:

1. The impression of inevitability. The hindsight bias is stronger when you can easily identify a possible cause of the event. For example, your bag was stolen because you're a tourist.
2. The impression of foreseeability. The hindsight bias is stronger when you are you less surprised by what happened.

 

The hindsight bias can be a problem when it stops us learning from our mistakes. If the entrepreneurs knew how biased their estimates of success were, would they have done things differently? If trainee doctors think a diagnosis was obvious all along, how will they learn to consider alternatives?

 

So psychologists have looked at ways in which we can correct for the hindsight bias. The main one is forcing people to justify their judgements and think about alternative ways in which things could have turned out. This normally makes people see that things could easily have turned out differently.

Of course, now you know about the hindsight bias, and how it can be corrected, it seems pretty obvious, doesn't it?

 

 

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Why Daydreaming Makes You Smarter and More Creative : The New Yorker

Why Daydreaming Makes You Smarter and More Creative : The New Yorker | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Humans are a daydreaming species. According to a recent study led by the Harvard psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Matthew A. Killingsworth, people let their minds wander forty-seven per cent of the time they are awake. (The scientists demonstrated this by developing an iPhone app that contacted twenty-two hundred and fifty volunteers at random intervals during the day.) In fact, the only activity during which we report that our minds are not constantly wandering is “love making.” We’re able to focus for that.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/frontal-cortex/2012/06/the-virtues-of-daydreaming.html?printable=true#ixzz1x2zRxZsH

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The Cognitive Behavioral Miracle: Veronica Pamoukaghlian, MA

The Cognitive Behavioral Miracle: Veronica Pamoukaghlian, MA | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Personally, I don’t think there has been a more profound revolution in the study of human psychology as the cognitive behavioral revolution...

 

In a nutshell


The principles of CBT are based on a very simple idea: we feel according to what we think, in other words, our thoughts and cognitive constructions are at the root of our emotions and behavior patterns. CBT is based on three fundamental propositions:
1. Cognitive activity affects behavior;
2. Cognitive activity may be monitored and altered; and
3. Desired behavior change may be effected through cognitive change...

 

According to the Beck Institute, over 500 scientific studies have proven that CBT has had significantly better results than any other therapeutic approach for a growing number of disorders and problems. These include obsessive compulsive disorder, general anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bulimia, drug and alcohol abuse, social phobias and dissociative disorders, among many others.

 

CBT is a fundamentally empowering approach, in that it has successfully identified certain ways of thinking that can make the difference between sanity and insanity, between happiness and unhappiness, and it has developed a variety of techniques to teach patients to substitute these dysfunctional patterns of thinking, which are often at the root of their problems...

 

 

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Brain power: why using it helps stop losing it: Michael Valenzuela

Brain power: why using it helps stop losing it: Michael Valenzuela | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
“Use it or lose it” is a catch-cry that applies to the brain as well as the body.

 

...Our research suggests that there could be a number of different pathways in the brain by which an active cognitive lifestyle leads to reduced dementia risk.

 

In men, a degree of protection against microscopic vascular disease in the brain is implicated. In both men and women, there’s evidence of neuroplastic changes in the frontal lobe – greater mental activity over time seems to be associated with either growing more brain cells, or losing fewer cells, and perhaps with more connections between brain cells. Together these kinds of changes translate to an increase in brain volume in this very particular part of the brain.

 

Like any good research, this study stimulates many more questions about the links between cognitive lifestyle, the brain, and dementia that will need further investigation. But it does emphasise the potentially powerful effects that mental habits have on brain structure and function.

 

In the context of an ageing society with truly alarming dementia predictions over the next decades, our research adds yet more hard evidence to the idea we should be promoting and providing opportunities for challenging, rich and engaging cognitive lifestyle activities for our older citizens as a way of maintaining optimum brain health and minimising dementia risk.

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Celebrate What's Right With the World: Dewitt Jones

Celebrate What's Right With the World: Dewitt Jones | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

“Celebrate What’s Right with the World” is a film I made to help folks approach life with confidence, grace and celebration.

 

The stories and lessons it includes came from my years as a photographer with National Geographic. Those years gave me a perspective that changed my life and other lives as well.

 

It turns out that Celebrate has become one of the most successful training films ever produced. That’s not me, folks, that’s the message. That’s just a lot of people knowing in their hearts that there’s a better, more positive way of looking at the world. That celebration really can be a way of life. So, please, enjoy the film. Then go out and celebrate what’s right with the world!

 

Click on the headline to see the film, right now!

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Guilty, but not responsible?: Rosalind English

Guilty, but not responsible?:  Rosalind English | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Monsters are born, not made: the latest round in the debate about criminal responsibility questions the very existence of intuitive morality...

 

The US neuroscientist Sam Harris claims in a new book that free will is such a misleading illusion that we need to rethink our criminal justice system on the basis of discoveries coming from the neurological wards and MRI scans of the human brain in action.

 

The physiologist Benjamin Libet famously demonstrated in the 1980s that activity in the brain's motor regions can be detected some 300 milliseconds before a person feels that he has decided to move. Subjects were hooked up to an EEG machine and were asked to move their left or right hand at a time of their choosing. They watched a specially designed clock to notice what time it was when they were finally committed to moving their left or right hand. Libet measured the electrical potentials of their brains and discovered that nearly half a second before they were aware of what they were going to do, he was aware of their intentions. Libet's findings have been borne out more recently in direct recordings of the cortex from neurological patients. With contemporary brain scanning technology, other scientists in 2008 were able to predict with 60% accuracy whether subjects would press a button with their left or right hand up to 10 seconds before the subject became aware of having made that choice (long before the preparatory motor activity detected by Libet).

 

Clearly, findings of this kind are difficult to reconcile with the sense that one is the conscious source of one's actions. The discovery that humans possess a determined will has profound implications for moral responsibility. Indeed, Harris is even critical of the idea that free will is "intuitive": he says careful introspection can cast doubt on free will. In an earlier book on morality, Harris argues, "Thoughts simply arise in the brain. What else could they do? The truth about us is even stranger than we may suppose: The illusion of free will is itself an illusion (The Moral Landscape)"

 

But a belief in free will forms the foundation and underpinning of our enduring commitment to retributive justice. The US supreme court has called free will a "universal and persistent" foundation for our entire system of law.

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A How-To Guide for Boosting Your Mind-Reading Powers | By Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.

A How-To Guide for Boosting Your Mind-Reading Powers | By Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Psychologists make a living out of predicting what people will do. By mastering the science of behavioral predictions, we can help everyone from advertisers to therapists anticipate how people will respond in a given situation. Unlike the evil villains of sci-fi movies, psychologists are obligated to use this information for ethical purposes. We are trained to use the scientific method to make our predictions. We develop our powers to predict behavior through observation, training, and experimentation.

 

For the average individual, the goals of predicting people’s behavior are far more practical. You want to know whether to take a risk and invite someone you’ve just met to join you for a meal or perhaps just a cup of coffee. Before you do that, you most likely would like to be fairly sure that your invitation will be met with an enthusiastic "yes" rather than a flat-out rejection. Perhaps it’s a work-related situation. Are you about to close a sale, land a new job, or want to be granted a day off? You’d like to know ahead of time whether the client, employer, or boss is inclined to go along with your wishes. Even in less clutch situations, it would be nice to predict the behavior of people you don’t know very well or will never meet again. Will the woman ahead of you in line at the checkout counter allow you to scoot ahead when you’re running late or will she call over the store manager and complain about your rudeness?

 

These are just a few of literally thousands of interactions we have in our daily lives in which we have to probe into the recesses of someone else’s mind and anticipate what he or she will do. From high-stakes situations to the relatively mundane, having mind-reading powers would certainly seem like a worthwhile ability to possess.

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Praising Intelligence: Costs to Children’s Self-Esteem and Motivation: Christine VanDeVelde

Praising Intelligence: Costs to Children’s Self-Esteem and Motivation: Christine VanDeVelde | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

“You’re such a great artist!”

“You’re so smart!”

 

Who would ever imagine that praising a child could be bad? After all, we love our children and want them to have high self-esteem. We want them to go out into the world thinking well of themselves, trusting their abilities, succeeding.

 

But it turns out even well-intended praise for children’s talents and abilities can backfire. In May, developmental and social psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck addressed the Bing community in the 2007 Distinguished Lecture to explain why and how praise can drain a child’s self-esteem and sap motivation.

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