Want to be Successful? Spend Time with Your Friends

Are you worried you aren’t successful? Don’t be! The greatest success one can have is found in their social network, and size doesn’t matter. According to a 75-year long study done by Harvard the path to success is spending time with friends. Take a moment out of your day today and send somebody you know a nice message.

If you don’t have a large group of friends, or don’t have a partner, don’t worry. A person only needs a few close relationships to be happy.

“It’s not just the number of friends you have,” Waldinger says, “and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship. It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”

It’s a reminder to carve out more time to connect with people who you enjoy being around, sure. But unlike landing a new job or buying a new car, you many not see changes to your mood overnight. “Relationships are messy and they’re complicated,” says Waldinger. Investments in them can take time to pay dividends.

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Solving Problems is the New Life Goal

It’s now February and those of you that decided to commit to a New Years resolution have probably given up on them, that’s ok. Trying is always the first step. One of the reasons you may have missed your resolution goal is because it was a goal. Instead of focussing on achieving a goal, you should focus on what problem you’re trying to solve and give it a hard think about the best way to go about solving it.

“Goals feel good to set, but they’re just a diversion,” he told me. “People face no consequence if they don’t reach their goal. So they forget it and set another one again and mess that one up, too.”

No, Kashey wanted to talk about problems. Too often, he said, we use goals to gloss over problems, pulling arbitrary benchmarks out of thin air — like losing 10 pounds or reading 30 books in a year — without pausing to consider whether hitting those benchmarks will improve our lives.

When we want to do or change something, a more productive framing, he said, is to ask ourselves, “What problem am I trying to solve?”

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Practicing Mindfulness Reduces Bias

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Mindfulness training can reduce the biases one has according to a new paper published today in Nature. The researchers had a control group which was given a bias test but received no mindfulness training, the other group got training and then tested. The results are clear: being mindful can reduce one’s bias.

In a study testing whether mindfulness decreases cognitive biases, respondents answered 22 standard cognitive bias questions to measure susceptibility to the endowment effect, overconfidence, mental accounting, anchoring, loss aversion, and 17 other biases, as well as the 14 questions of the Langer mindfulness survey (LMS), measuring the traits of novelty-seeking, novelty producing, and engagement. A portion of the respondents were randomly pre-assigned to a condition that induced mindfulness. On 19 of the 22 biases, those induced to be mindful were less likely to show the bias. They also scored higher on 11 of the 14 LMS questions. The method by which we induced mindfulness was unrelated to the context of the later questions, involving image comparisons and standard Langerian instructions to notice three new things. People can boost their decision-making abilities merely by increasing their mindfulness, with no need for meditation, psychological training, or statistical education.

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Stay Sane in Quarantine by Going Outside and Being Positive

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Many of us need to stay inside as much as possible to reduce the spread of COVID this winter, and with less sun and no end in sight of the pandemic staying positive can be hard. You can do it though!

We can learn from places that are cold and lack sunlight to see how they stay healthy both physically and mentally. In the Norwegian city of Tromsø they have some tips and tricks that we can all use.

But Tromsø regularly reports fewer cases of seasonal affective disorder per capita than much sunnier places. This recently piqued the interest of Kari Leibowitz, a health psychologist from Stanford University. She designed a survey called the “wintertime mindset scale,” which focused on Tromsø, plus two other Norwegian locales: Oslo, the nation’s capital, to the south, and Svalbard, home to one of the world largest populations of polar bears, to the north. Leibowitz asked locals a series of questions about the darkest days of the year, with particular emphasis on how the winter affected their mindset.

Leibowitz’s main takeaway from the study? The power of positive thinking. Norwegians employ techniques like “active coping,” “mental framing,” and “visualization” to get through tough winters. They’re still susceptible to anxiety and wind chill like everybody else, but they actively choose to view the polar night, and its surrounding months, as an opportunity. More northward Norwegians have more cause to embrace winter, because they’ve evolved to understand that they have no other choice. The most potent tool these locals have for getting through the winter isn’t hiding from it, but preparing for it, going out in it, naming it, seeing — with expectations kept low — if there might be some bright spots in all the darkness.

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Deleting Facebook Improves Your Health

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You’ve probably heard that Facebook is bad for you and shrugged it off thinking that it’s not a big deal. Turns out it is, and you really should get off of Facebook.

We all know how Facebook spies on use and profits from our secrets by selling our data. Tracking blockers and using privacy friendly browsers can help protect you from their spying.

It’s also now well known that Facebook harbours white nationalists and profits from cult-like groups (QAnon), and those too can be avoided. Facebooks real damage to your well being is more insidious than its attempt to promote radicalism and profiting from it. Facebook will make you feel awful because of what others post there.

The solution to make your life better: stop going to Facebook.

Is deleting your account too extreme? Start by limiting how often you go to the site, maybe just once a week or once a month. Definitely don’t post on the site.

“Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being,” the researchers wrote in a Harvard Business Review article. “These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year.” Yikes.

Why is too much Facebook bad for your emotional health? Previous research has shown that the social network creates a sort of false peer pressure. Since most people are cautious about posting negative or upsetting experiences on Facebook, the social network creates a misleading environment where everyone seems to be doing better and having more fun than you are. As the researchers put it, “Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison.”

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