Despite the fact that we are more connected than ever loneliness is still a problem in our society. Indeed, it’s such a problem that people are self-reporting that they are lonelier today than decades ago. What can we do about it? We can teach people how to better deal with feelings of loneliness in schools so when they become adults they will know how to grabble with it.
But Holt-Lunstad believes that loneliness-prevention education should not be limited to teaching students how to support others. She also believes that kids should learn early in life how to reframe their own negative responses to social situations. “We’ve all had a situation where you text someone and they don’t respond right away,” she says. “Instead of assuming they’re snubbing you, they’re blowing you off, all of these kinds of negative things that could in turn lead you to respond with nasty comments or become irritated, which is not going to elicit the sort of friendly response you want,” she says, “reframe it as, ‘Perhaps they’re driving.’ ‘Perhaps they’re in a meeting.’ If you’re interpreting others’ social signals as negative, how you behave towards them is more likely to mirror that.” The existing strategies for helping people repackage their thoughts in a more positive way could be easily adapted for a classroom setting.
When European explorers made first contact with peoples around the world both cultures changed. Unfortunately for those being contacted they were changed by a lot of diseases and exploitation (sadly the exploitation continues to this day). Europeans also ignored the long history of the peoples they met and devalued their oral traditions. A recent example of this in Canada is around the discovery of the HMS Terror.
Globally there are many stories that can be traced back to events thousands of years ago. It’s only now that the traditional sciences are listening to these stories because physical evidence can be found using modern techniques.
The extraordinary antiquity of such stories, which represent knowledge passed on largely orally, was not demonstrable until recently. This has allowed the full extent and implications of the longevity of the memories on which these stories are based to be appreciated. Another such oral history surrounds the Klamath people of Oregon, in the western U.S., who tell of a time when there was no Crater Lake, only a giant volcano towering over the landscape where the lake is today. As the story goes, the fractious volcano god, besotted with a local beauty, threatened the Klamath with fury and fire unless the woman acquiesced. But her people called upon their protector—a rival deity—who fought the volcano god, eventually causing his mountain home to collapse in on him and fill with water. For the next approximately 7,600 years, the Klamath taught each new generation the importance of avoiding Crater Lake lest they disturb the evil god within. With remarkable precision, geologists have determined that this is the time of the terminal eruption of the former volcano, Mount Mazama, and the creation of the landscape that exists today. The Klamath were there all along, and their memories of that ancient cataclysmic event have passed into global knowledge today.
Both the food and clothing industry produce tons of waste, waste which has traditionally been dumped into landfills. One company is taking food waste and mixing it with special bacteria to breakdown the food faster to create entirely new products. Another company is sourcing fabrics to create clothing, therefore diverting textiles from entering the stream of waste. Of course, the best way to deal with waste is not to produce any in the first place. Remember: reduce first, reuse second, and if you can’t accomplish the first two then recycle.
Beyond the cutting waste, there’s also the water consumption. “It takes 2,700 litres of water to make one new t-shirt — that’s the same amount the average person drinks over three years. We saw this as an incredible opportunity to make a difference.”
They canvassed local clothing designers and producers to collect gently used or unused textiles that would normally end up in waste streams. They then use the fabric to produce colourful children’s clothing.
While production has been on a small scale to date, Nudnik is poised to scale its operations, Lorusso says. “At a startup demo, we met someone who was going to work for their family business in Bangladesh and was interested in bringing sustainability to the industry.”
How we engage the world around literally shapes how our brains work; therefore changing how we interact with reality can alter how we think. As humans we create pathways in our brains both physically and mentally which gives us our heuristic approach to the world around us. We can alter our heuristics by exposing ourselves to new and unexpected situations. The more unique experiences we have the more connected our brains are; which means that we can process information in more interesting ways.
Right now, I need to put some coffee into my brain to get it working 😉
At its core, a thinking pattern is an implicit rule of thumb for the way we connect aspects of our reality. Given the complexity of this reality, the more diverse our trained thinking patterns are — and the better refined the associated triggers are — the more accurately we will be able to interact with information around us.
Because thinking patterns emerge from the mental habit loops we form as a response to experience, the only way to diversify them is to seek out new and conflicting encounters. We can do this through books, unfamiliar environments, or even hypothetical thought games.
When confronting a problem, or looking for creative inspiration, people get told “to sleep on it”. This turns out to be useful advice not just because it’s based on years of smart people saying that, but also because modern neuroscience research is proving it to be true. We can benefit a lot from sleeping more (on average people don’t get enough sleep) and dealing with complex issues is one more thing that sleep is good for.
Sleep, Walker suggests, is crucial to problem solving. When my students are stuck on a math problem, sleep on it is often the only wisdom I have to offer. This adage has served me well in the past and now, thanks to Walker’s research, it enjoys a strong neurological basis. Walker demonstrates that problem solving can seamlessly occur in the REM phase of sleep. It is in this critical stage of unconsciousness that we form novel connections between individual chunks of knowledge. In a REM sleep is where our ideas crystalize and recombine into new, creative thoughts. The link between sleep and inspiration is so pervasive that the phrase sleep on it exists in most languages.