I enjoyed this primer on super-stimuli by Gregory Ciotti, titled “Is Your Brain Truly Ready for Junk Food, Porn, or the Internet?” Super stimuli, featuring the work of Niko Tinbergen. He discovered that we can hijack animal’s instincts beyond their evolutionary purpose.
This is what it’s like to never have enough. It’s the autobiography of a Wall Street hedge fund trader, published in the NYT:
I noticed the vitriol that traders directed at the government for limiting bonuses after the crash. I heard the fury in their voices at the mention of higher taxes. These traders despised anything or anyone that threatened their bonuses. Ever see what a drug addict is like when he’s used up his junk? He’ll do anything — walk 20 miles in the snow, rob a grandma — to get a fix. Wall Street was like that. In the months before bonuses were handed out, the trading floor started to feel like a neighborhood in “The Wire” when the heroin runs out.
I’d always looked enviously at the people who earned more than I did; now, for the first time, I was embarrassed for them, and for me. I made in a single year more than my mom made her whole life. I knew that wasn’t fair; that wasn’t right. Yes, I was sharp, good with numbers. I had marketable talents. But in the end I didn’t really do anything. I was a derivatives trader, and it occurred to me the world would hardly change at all if credit derivatives ceased to exist. Not so nurse practitioners. What had seemed normal now seemed deeply distorted.
Here are twenty things mentally strong people don’t do. I do like this list- go to the article to read more. Many of these have to do with worrying about what others would think.
1. Dwelling On The Past
2. Remaining In Their Comfort Zone
3. Not Listening To The Opinions Of Others
4. Avoiding Change
5. Keeping A Closed Mind
6. Letting Others Make Decisions For Them
7. Getting Jealous Over The Successes Of Others
8. Thinking About The High Possibility Of Failure
9. Feeling Sorry For Themselves
10. Focusing On Their Weaknesses
11. Trying To Please People
12. Blaming Themselves For Things Outside Their Control
13. Being Impatient
14. Being Misunderstood
15. Feeling Like You’re Owed
16. Repeating Mistakes
17. Giving Into Their Fears
18. Acting Without Calculating
19. Refusing Help From Others
20. Throwing In The Towel
I just don’t know what to think when I hear of mega-fat people, those who grew while they were bed-ridden. This type of spectacle simply has to be enabled by others, because there’s no way these people can get to food on their own. These are stories of intense co-dependence. They have to be. The murder allegations here almost seem like a distraction to the main story.
I very much enjoyed Brene Brown’s TED talk on living whole-heartedly. She combines a humorous presentation with a deep and serious topic. At the outset, she recognized that “connection” is what life is all about, but shame (the fear that “I’m not X enough”) destroys this sense of connection. To allow connection, we need to take chances; we need to allow ourselves to be SEEN.
With this as the context, Brown set out to understand more about shame. It boils down to whether someone BELIEVES that they are worthy of love and belonging. The one thing that destroys a sense of love and connection is a fear that one is not worthy of love and belonging.
People with a sense of worthiness, the “whole-hearted,” have the courage to be imperfect. They have the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others (because you can’t do the latter without doing the former), They also develop their sense of connection as a result of being authentic. They believe that what makes them vulnerable is what makes them beautiful–these are people who are willing to do something where there are no guarantees. Vulnerability is the core of our sense of shame and fear, but it is also the “birthplace” of joy, of creativity, belonging and love.”
Brown’s research showed that many of us “numb” vulnerability through our many addictions and obsessions. We can’t selectively numb the bad emotions without also numbing the good emotions. Because we numb all of our emotions, we then instinctively feed our cravings through our destructive addictions. We compensate by trying to make uncertain things certain. We also compensate by blaming. We try to perfect ourselves and our children. We also pretend that what we do does not have an impact on other people. We don’t know how to say that we’re sorry and that we’ll make things right.
Brown’s advice: Don’t be afraid to be seen for the vulnerable people we are. We must learn to love with our whole hearts, even when there is no guarantee. We need to practice gratitude and “lean into joy.” Most important, we need to learn to recognize that “we are enough,” because we then stop screaming and start listening. “Only then can we be kinder and gentler to ourselves and the people around us.”
And then again, according to this article in Discover, they might not. Check the comments to see the counter-research, as well as ever-more skirmishes in the ongoing American culture-wars.
To the extent that graphic warnings don’t discourage smokers, I’ll rack this up as one of the many many many counter-intuitive things scientists have discovered about human beings.
I just watched an hour of the Academy Awards tonight, and I was impressed with the snippets of movies that were shown (though I haven’t seen any of the featured movies yet). I love movies. I’ve seen hundreds of movies in my life, I’d bet I’ve watched two or three movies per month over my 54 years of life. Many of them have inspired me. I’m glad we have the opportunity to watch well-crafted movies. I should add that I watch almost no live television.
I’m increasingly disturbed about the great number of Americans who know far more about the movies and television they watch than they know about the real world. They know more because they watch dozens of movies every month. They can talk for endless hours about movies, movie stars and even the gossip regarding movie stars. Most people I know have a far greater grasp about movies than they do about any of the big issues facing this country. Movies are as real to them as the world they actually live in.
The following statistics are from the Kaiser Foundation:
Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.
The Academy promotes movies as opportunities to escape, and movies function too well in that regard.
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I recently stumbled upon a book called The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It, by David Niven, PhD (2000). The book offers quite a bit of solid commonsense advice. For instance:
- Cultivate friendships,
- Turn off the TV (“TV reduces personal contentment “by about 5% for every hour a day we watch”),
- Get a good nights sleep, and
- Money does not buy happiness.
Fair enough. Interspersed with the good advice, however, is quite a bit of advice with which I am not impressed. For instance,
Chapter 8: Accept yourself-unconditionally.
Chapter 12: Have realistic expectations.
Chapter 16: Believe in yourself.
Chapter 23: Belong to a religion.
Chapter 26: Root for a home team (a sports team).
Chapter 34 It’s not what happened; it’s how you think about what happened.
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