RSSCategory: Psychology Cognition

Lack of human connectedness as the cause of “addiction”

January 22, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

This article at Huffpo argues that addiction cannot be found as internal chemical hooks, but rather as a symptom of human boredom and isolation:

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about the head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

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How to stop procrastinating

January 12, 2015 | By | Reply More

I don’t know whether I’m a typical procrastinator. I avoid unpleasant and difficult tasks by doing difficult tasks that I enjoy. I’m not a time-waster, but the effect is the same: I repeatedly struggle to get finished with projects that I deem to be the most important.

I paused my “modified” procrastinating for a moment and decided to post on this summary by Eric Barker, who consistently does a good job of posting on self-improvement topics.

The take home is this, but do check out the article, which is filled with useful links:

  • You don’t need more willpower. You need to build a solid habit that helps you get to work.
  • Getting started is the tricky part. Turn that habit into a “personal starting ritual.” It can even have some fun to it as long as it signals that in a few minutes, it’s time to get cranking.
  • The most powerful habits change how you see yourself. Think about what makes you feel like someone who gets things done and make that a part of your starting ritual.
  • Eat chocolate with friends. Maybe not literally, but it’s a good reminder that you need both rewards and a support network to build rock solid new habits.

Here’s one other excellent article by Eric Barker, along the same lines:
How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips. I do like the idea of scheduling EVERYTHING, and not simply making to-do lists. Point two of the list below is also golden.

  • To-Do Lists Are Evil. Schedule Everything.
  • Assume You’re Going Home at 5:30, Then Plan Your Day Backwards
  • Make A Plan For The Entire Week
  • Do Very Few Things, But Be Awesome At Them
  • Less Shallow Work, Focus On The Deep Stuff
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How to make better decisions

January 1, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

Eric Barker’s summary:

The five step process for making better decisions:
Maintain a feeling of control over your situation.
Emotional preparation. Consider how things could be worse.
Monitor your breathing.
Controlled empathy.
Ask “What advice would I give my best friend in this situation?”

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How to read people – Eric Barker summary

December 22, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

Eric Barker has yet another link-filled how-to article. This one offers strategies for reading people based on their behavior rather than their words.

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The Danger of Positive Thinking

December 4, 2014 | By | Reply More

From NYT:

My colleagues and I have since performed many follow-up studies, observing a range of people, including children and adults; residents of different countries (the United States and Germany); and people with various kinds of wishes — college students wanting a date, hip-replacement patients hoping to get back on their feet, graduate students looking for a job, schoolchildren wishing to get good grades. In each of these studies, the results have been clear: Fantasizing about happy outcomes — about smoothly attaining your wishes — didn’t help. Indeed, it hindered people from realizing their dreams.

Why doesn’t positive thinking work the way you might assume? As my colleagues and I have discovered, dreaming about the future calms you down, measurably reducing systolic blood pressure, but it also can drain you of the energy you need to take action in pursuit of your goals.

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Antidotes for regret

November 18, 2014 | By | Reply More

As one who is sometimes consumed by regret, I found this post by Eric Barker to be of great interest.

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The kind of people who persevere with the practice of law

November 13, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More

Conclusions like these do make me stop and think, given that I’ve survived the practice of law for more than 30 years.

Law firms seeking to hire lawyers more likely to stay in law practice should be forewarned: Lawyers with “higher levels of resilience, empathy, initiative and sociability” are more likely to leave law practice than those with lower levels of those traits.

That finding is from an online assessment of more than 1,400 people by Right Profile and JD Match that sought to improve hiring by matching lawyers’ practice areas with personality traits,

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Why Google doesn’t necessarily hire those who excel at college

November 11, 2014 | By | Reply More

What does Google look for in its new employees? This article explains. It’s not your typical high-grade college grad.

Megan McArdle argued recently that writers procrastinate “because they got too many A’s in English class.” Successful young graduates have been taught to rely on talent, which makes them unable to fail gracefully.

Google looks for the ability to step back and embrace other people’s ideas when they’re better. “It’s ‘intellectual humility.’ Without humility, you are unable to learn,” Bock says. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure.”

Related article: The research of Carol Dweck.

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Why there are not any civilizations without temples – Video featuring Jonathan Haidt

October 31, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More

Jonathan Haidt explains why there are not any civilizations without temples, starting at minute 14 of this video. This is the 2013 Boyarsky Lecture at Duke University. About 10,000 years we went from an almost instantaneous transition from hunter-gathers to Babylon. A huge part of our evolutionary development is this newly learned ability of humans to circling around sacred objects (religious and political objects are two dominant examples) in order to form teams. As we circle around, we generate a social energy that knits the social fabric, but also encourages Manichean thinking–us versus them, blinding us to our own faults and faulty thinking. No shades of gray are allowed when we are intensely groupish. This kind of groupish thinking is radically incompatible with scientific thinking. Science is squeezed out, replaced by sacred objects, groupishness and authoritarian obeisance.

At min 24, Haidt gets to the crux of his talk. Those of us who focus on the “care” (empathy) foundation of morality, often circle about it bonding with others like us, rejecting and denigrating the impulses and ideas that tend to drive those who are politically conservative.

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