The Backfire Effect: The Psychology of Why We Have a Hard Time Changing Our Minds by Maria Popova How the disconnect between information and insight explains our dangerous self-righteousness. “Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind,” I wrote in reflecting on the 7 most important things I learned in 7 years of Brain Pickings. It’s a conundrum most of us grapple with — on the one hand, the awareness that personal growth means transcending our smaller selves as we reach for a more dimensional, intelligent, and enlightened understanding of the world, and on the other hand, the excruciating growing pains of evolving or completely abandoning our former, more inferior beliefs as we integrate new knowledge and insight into our comprehension of how life works. That discomfort, in fact, can be so intolerable that we often go to great lengths to disguise or deny our changing beliefs by paying less attention to information that contradicts our present convictions and more to that which confirms them. So where does this leave us? Donating = Loving
7 talks on how we make choices | Playlist Now playing Over the years, research has shown a counterintuitive fact about human nature: That sometimes, having too much choice makes us less happy. This may even be true when it comes to medical treatment. Baba Shiv shares a fascinating study that measures why choice opens the door to doubt, and suggests that ceding control — especially on life-or-death decisions — may be the best thing for us. (Filmed at TEDxStanford.)
How Traditional Parenting Is Harming Children ... And Benefiting Conservative Ideology Photo Credit: PathDoc/Shutterstock.com May 8, 2014 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. From The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Children and Parenting by Alfie Kohn. When you hear someone insist, “Children need more than intelligence to succeed,” the traits they’re encouraged to acquire, as I’ve mentioned, are more likely to include self-discipline than empathy. But what if it turned out that persistence or an inclination to delay gratification was mostly predicted by the situations in which people find themselves and the nature of the tasks they’re asked to perform? the ability to defer immediate gratification. Similarly, other experts have argued that it may make more sense to think of self-control in general as “a situational concept, not an individual trait” in light of the fact that any individual “will display different degrees of self-control in different situations.”
Tough Choices: How the poor spend money “It’s stress,” Halima Tinson says as she paces back and forth in front of a San Diego preschool. “But I want my husband to go to school. Because I know when he finishes, I won’t have to worry anymore.” Tinson is trying to get her three-year-old twins signed up for the Head Start program to free up time for her husband. The Tinson-Ricardos are just one of thousands of poor families in San Diego. Barely scraping by in deep poverty Halima Tinson had to take three buses to get from her job across town to the preschool in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego. “I just got my hours cut because my boss said I don’t have a car. “There’d be some times when we’d go without water for a whole week, maybe two weeks. Ricardo just climbed that same hill to get groceries for the family. But looking around the Tinson-Ricardo’s home, there are some signs of better times… or bad decisions. The Tinson-Ricardos have four kids living at home: Rickey Jr., 7, Isaiah, 5, Adora, 3, and Jonah, 3.
Why We Stay In Crappy Situations (And How To Get Out Of Them) Change sucks. That’s why we stay in bad relationships, eat at the same restaurants, and take the same path to work every day. Humans like comfort, even when that comfort is uncomfortable. We’re creatures of habit, and breaking habits causes everything from anxiety, to depression, to eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. For example, I spent nine years in a relationship when I should have left after five. But, as we all know, change doesn’t happen overnight. Sure, we have growth spurts brought on by moments of clarity and the desire to stop playing small. Often, we grow in waves, a cycle known as evolutionary catharsis. So how does this work? Right before we have a growth spurt, many of us have a temporary feeling of discomfort. 1. Some hallmarks of this technique include: yelling compulsive behaviors sickness 2. Features of this trait include: depression withdrawal loss of appetite 3. Distractions can take many forms, including: any form of addiction dissociation watching a lot of television
A Homeless Man and His BlackBerry Just becomes he doesn't have a home mean he doesn't deserve a life. I could tell he was different the moment he walked in the coffee shop. It wasn’t his appearance. He looked presentable, if a little rough around the edges, clutching an old BlackBerry to his barrel chest. It was how he moved: warily, shoulders hunched over and eyes darting. The body language would read as suspicious, if not for the flicker of fear and apprehension in his eyes — as if he was scared of being noticed, vigilant to his surroundings and desperately trying to blend in at the same time. He ordered a coffee, carefully counting out coins on the counter. Did someone have some cash jobs for him? Bert isn’t unsheltered. He made it clear: he hadn’t given up. It wasn’t easy to engage him in conversation. He made a joke about people acting as if poverty was an infectious disease. His phone, then, functions as an important conduit. E-mail and text is especially important. Yes — phones. I Want More Stuff Like This!
Do You Procrastinate? Maybe It's A Form Of Wisdom Procrastination can make us feel guilty, unproductive, riddled with failure. You know what it feels like and how it looks: Just one more round of checking social media. A spontaneous Netflix marathon. That closet that suddenly really needs to be organized. What if I told you that procrastination can be a form of wisdom? In an age of “instant” and “gotta-make-it-happen-now” productivity, our hesitation can (erroneously) be labeled as procrastination. Look, we all put things off. How can you actually benefit from your procrastination? 1. Are you hesitating because you doubt your abilities? 2. Ask yourself: What about these circumstances has me pausing? 3. Maybe you like the work you’re doing but not the client. Think about what you can change, quit, and delegate. When you examine your procrastination, you get clear. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com We're thrilled to present revitalize, a two-day summit with wellness experts from around the world. Go
The metamorphoses of the self-employed And so it continues. Yesterday’s labour market statistics showed that the self-employment figures are up once again. Close to 75,000 more people became self-employed in the last 3 months of this year, which means we’ve seen an increase of around 340,000 over the last 12 months alone. A report we published a few weeks ago takes a closer look at who these people are, why they’re starting up in business, and what being self-employed means to them personally. While we dug much deeper than most – for example, by creating a typology of self-employed ‘tribes’ – it still feels as though we only scratched the surface of this group. A common theme that came up time and again in our interviews with business owners was that it took around 2 years for their venture to finally ‘begin working’. But it is not just the business that changes, it is also the self-employed themselves. Not every business owner will experience metamorphoses like these, of course. How do we do this?
The Psychology of Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome the “OK Plateau” of Performance & Personal Growth by Maria Popova “When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend.” “Any sequence of mental action which has been frequently repeated tends to perpetuate itself,” William James wrote in his influential meditation on habit, ”so that we find ourselves automatically prompted to think, feel, or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, or do, under like circumstances.” As we’ve seen, one of the most insidious forms of such habitual autopilot — which evolved to help lighten our cognitive load yet is a double-edged sword that can also hurt us — is our mercilessly selective everyday attention, but the phenomenon is particularly perilous when it comes to learning new skills. In the 1960s, psychologists identified three stages that we pass through in the acquisition of new skills. Color restoration of archival Einstein photograph by Mads Madsen The Mozart family on tour: Leopold, Wolfgang, and Nannerl.
How Long It Takes to Form a New Habit by Maria Popova Why magic numbers always require a grain of empirical salt. “We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle proclaimed. “Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state,” William James wrote. But how, exactly, do we rewire our habits once they have congealed into daily routines? When he became interested in how long it takes for us to form or change a habit, psychologist Jeremy Dean found himself bombarded with the same magic answer from popular psychology websites and advice columns: 21 days. In a study carried out at University College London, 96 participants were asked to choose an everyday behavior that they wanted to turn into a habit. This notion of acting without thinking — known in science as “automaticity” — turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, to be a central driver of habits. It’s like trying to run up a hill that starts out steep and gradually levels off.
The science of willpower: Kelly McGonigal on sticking to resolutions It’s the second week in January and, at about this time, that resolution that seemed so reasonable a week ago — go to the gym every other day, read a book a week, only drink alcohol on weekends — is starting to seem very … hard. As you are teetering on the edge of abandoning it all together, Kelly McGonigal is here to help. This Stanford University psychologist — who shared last year how you can make stress your friend — wants you to know that you’re not having a hard time sticking to a resolution because you are a terrible person. Perhaps you’ve just formulated the wrong resolution. McGonigal has, for years, taught a course called “The Science of Willpower” through Stanford’s Continuing Studies program and, in 2011, she spun it into a book, The Willpower Instinct. The TED Blog spoke to McGonigal this week about how willpower is often misunderstood, and what we each can do to improve it. First question: why is willpower such a struggle? It’s a great question. Yes! Yes.
Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives By Maria Popova “If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve,” Debbie Millman counseled in one of the best commencement speeches ever given, urging: “Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities…” Far from Pollyanna platitude, this advice actually reflects what modern psychology knows about how belief systems about our own abilities and potential fuel our behavior and predict our success. One of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves, Dweck found in her research, has to do with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality. The consequences of believing that intelligence and personality can be developed rather than being immutably engrained traits, Dweck found in her two decades of research with both children and adults, are remarkable. For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.
William James on Habit by Maria Popova “We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar.” “We are what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle famously proclaimed. “Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I found this interesting not merely out of solipsism, as it somehow validated my having had the same breakfast day in and day out for nearly a decade (steel-cut oats, fat-free Greek yogurt, whey protein powder, seasonal fruit), but also because it isn’t a novel idea at all. When we look at living creatures from an outward point of view, one of the first things that strike us is that they are bundles of habits. James begins with a strictly scientific, physiological account of the brain and our coteries of ingrained information patterns, exploring the notion of neuroplasticity a century before it became a buzzword of modern popular neuroscience and offering this elegant definition: Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr
The Psychology of Self-Control by Maria Popova “Everyone’s self-control is a limited resource; it’s like muscle strength: the more we use it, the less remains in the tank, until we replenish it with rest.” Ever since psychology godfather William James first expounded the crucial role of habit in how we live and who we become, modern psychology has sought to figure out how we can rewire our bad habits, maximize our willpower, and use habits to optimize our productivity. And yet, if the market for self-help books and to-do apps and productivity tools is any indication, a great many of us still struggle with either understanding the psychology of habit and willpower or applying it to what really matters. In Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick (public library), psychologist Jeremy Dean illuminates an important common misconception about how willpower shapes our habits and behaviors: Donating = Loving Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. Share on Tumblr