Kids Taught to Think the World is Nice are More Successful

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Children raised with a positive world view are more successful than children raised with a negative one. A negative instruction about the world given to kids could be to distrust strangers despite the evidence that a child isn’t likely to be harmed by someone they don’t know. It turns out that over a lifetime primarily negative impressions of the world negatively impacts one’s measurable success in life. The lesson here is to be positive and show children the good in the world.

The world is a good place with good people, don’t believe the haters.

Primal world beliefs (‘primals’) are beliefs about the world’s basic character, such as the world is dangerous. This article investigates probabilistic assumptions about the value of negative primals (e.g., seeing the world as dangerous keeps me safe). We first show such assumptions are common. For example, among 185 parents, 53% preferred dangerous world beliefs for their children. We then searched for evidence consistent with these intuitions in 3 national samples and 3 local samples of undergraduates, immigrants (African and Korean), and professionals (car salespeople, lawyers, and cops;), examining correlations between primals and eight life outcomes within 48 occupations (total N=4,535) . As predicted, regardless of occupation, more negative primals were almost never associated with better outcomes. Instead, they predicted less success, less job and life satisfaction, worse health, dramatically less flourishing, more negative emotion, more depression, and increased suicide attempts. We discuss why assumptions about the value of negative primals are nevertheless widespread and implications for future research.

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Good Self Improvement Involves Psychic Suffering

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The self improvement industry is worth $10 billion dollars and rising. Greedy vultures flock to the industry to try to seperate people who are looking to better their lives from their money. Too many people are trying to make money rather than help others. Such a realization led one author to explore what industry “experts” get wrong. The hard truth about good self improvement exercises is that they won’t be fun, they’ll force you to question assumptions about you and the world you live in.

It took me a long time to accept the fact that just because something can be improved in my life, does not mean that it should be improved in my life.
The improvement is not the problem, it’s the WHY that’s motivating the improvement that matters. When one compulsively looks to improve oneself, without any greater cause or reason driving it other than self-aggrandizement, it leads to a life of immense self-preoccupation, a light and beneficent form of narcissism where one’s constant attention and focus is on oneself.
And ironically, this will probably make your life worse off

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Live in the Now, Plan for Your Future Self

There are many things that make one happy, but what if our fundamental approach is wrong? Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert looks into other ways of thinking about happiness and the overall take we have on our self.

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time. Hint: that’s not the case.

Be Optimistic by Learning About It

The book Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Dr. Martin Seligman is not new, but it is to me. For others who have not heard about it before, it looks like an uplifting read. The central thesis of the book is to essentially learn what a worthwhile life is for you and to un-learn the other things: learn optimism.

‘Happiness’ is a scientifically unwieldy notion, but there are three different forms of it if you can pursue. For the ‘Pleasant Life,’ you aim to have as much positive emotion as possible and learn the skills to amplify positive emotion. For the ‘Engaged Life,’ you identify your highest strengths and talents and recraft your life to use them as much as you can in work, love, friendship, parenting, and leisure. For the ‘Meaningful Life,’ you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.


Ultimately, Seligman points to optimism not only as a means to individual well-being, but also as a powerful aid in finding your purpose and contributing to the world:

Optimism is invaluable for the meaningful life. With a firm belief in a positive future you can throw yourself into the service of that which is larger than you are.

Read more about the book itself and see Brain Picking’s best books of 2011.

Play Tetris to Reduce Traumatic Flashbacks

Playing games is tons of fun and enterprising people are finding ways to better humanity through gameplay. I just found out that Tetris can be used to help people deal with traumatic experiences – cool!

Research tells us that there is a period of up to six hours after the trauma in which it is possible to interfere with the way that these traumatic memories are formed in the mind. During this time-frame, certain tasks can compete with the same brain channels that are needed to form the memory. This is because there are limits to our abilities in each channel: for example, it is difficult to hold a conversation while doing maths problems.

The Oxford team reasoned that recognising the shapes and moving the coloured building blocks around in Tetris competes with the images of trauma in the perceptual information channel. Consequently, the images of trauma (the flashbacks) are reduced. The team believe that this is not a simple case of distracting the mind with a computer game, as answering general knowledge questions in the Pub Quiz game increased flashbacks. The researchers believe that this verbal based game competes with remembering the contextual meaning of the trauma, so the visual memories in the perceptual channel are reinforced and the flashbacks are increased.

Read more at the University of Oxford.
Hat tip to Reddit.

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